Words & Photography: Owen James Vincent
Carly Smallman is someone we need in our lives right now during this stressful time. She is a comedian based in South East London who has been around for years telling jokes, creating funny songs, being on our TV screens and also performing at big venues such as Hammersmith Apollo.
We did a small photoshoot with her and then we sat down to discuss how important the creative industry is, her comedy club she's created with her best friend, Alyssa and we took her down memory lane from when she did her first ever stand up gig!
Hey Carly! Thanks for talking to ReVamp Magazine. The pandemic has been difficult for the creative industry, what have you learnt during that time?
I have learnt that I don't like doing stand up comedy on Zoom [laughs]. When the pandemic first happened, I felt like everything came crashing down, I thought I picked the wrong job, I've should of picked a job that could survive the pandemic. Also we were told we weren't essential that was really hurtful because when you've worked really hard in your career and people telling you you're not essential, it's not nice. I've had people coming up to me after shows saying "Your show really spoke to me! I felt really awful before I saw you and now I feel really great" so I think that is essential. I think the main thing I've learned is that what I want to do going forward is I want to make things because I like it! During the pandemic when your career doesn't exist you start doing whatever you want, so I started doing comedy with tarot cards, it's so niche, it probably won't make me any money but it's really fun and I've got a good following from it.
Do you remember doing your first stand up show? What was it like?
Oh of course I do! I was so scared! It's funny because I didn't want to do stand up. I had friends who were comedians and they were improvising stuff in a group. I did some stuff with a guy called Rob Broderick who was in a Abandoman and is very successful now, I played music for him as part of that act. I made friends with comedians who I thought were all mad, there's no chance. A lady approached me and asked me to do something at her club in Surrey and I just written this song about fancying your brother [laughs]. Back then, let's just say I was problematic [laughs], so I did the song, I barely remember the gig because it went by in a flash. The build up was so scary I felt like I was going to pee my pants, I was that scared but once it was done, people laughed, people clapped, I went off stage, it became an addiction because I wanted to do it again and see if I could do it a lot better and see if I can be funnier.
You got your own chain of comedy clubs for new parents that you do with your friend Alyssa. How did this all start?
I have been doing really well with my comedy career, I've been on the tele loads, I've been doing huge shows and then my boyfriend at the time dumped me. I ended up moving back to Beckenham. Alyssa is one of my friends and she use to run cabaret nights when I was younger, we haven't seen each other for a few years but when I moved back in to the area, she contacted me to go for a drink. We were sitting in the beer garden and her daughter was in the pram and we were having a glass of wine in the middle of the day.
She said "Thanks for coming out, there really isn't anything for Mum's to do in the day like this, it's all baby groups" and she actually came up with the idea of doing comedy shows in the day for new parents and they can bring their babies along. It avoids the problems of organising a night out when you have a newborn, when you've got a new born baby you want to be with them all the time. So we came up with the idea but we didn't do it until a couple of years later. The whole idea was to make a night out during the day, a party vibe, we play out loud 90's pop and the comedians come along and tell their grown up jokes, so the parents can enjoy a comedy show without going out on a Friday night. So we made sure it was a judgement free zone, where they can feed their baby, change their baby and being part of the 'Bring Your Own Baby' team no one minds, people feed with their boobs out and just have a laugh. It started at a pub in Beckenham and then we just grew and grew! You can find out all about it on the website!
If you weren't a comedian what do you think you'll be doing instead?
What I want to be doing would be different to what I would be doing [laughs]. I was very academic in school, I would read all the time, get ridiculous high grades all the way across, so I would probably be doing something incredibly boring [laughs]. I worked in an office once and I would sit in my car and cry because the thought of going in there just filled me with dread. I'm not cut out for office life! But what would I like to be doing if I wasn't a comedian? It would be a dog walker, I want to walk dogs, get a big place outside London and have a doggy day care. It's not very glamorous and I'm sure you've had a lot of people coming up with glam answers. I love animals, I've got my lovely dog Indie and I would just love spending my time hanging around dogs!
You started to do tarot reading, what made you get in to that?
I got in to tarot reading because I love symbolism, illustrations and seeing how people communicate through pictures. I like watching witchy things like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. My friend, Sarah and I would do comedy tarot reading on our Instagram live where we would read out people's cards. So, now we do tarot readings for various comedians!
Lastly, what does the future look like for Carly Smallman?
For me I'm focusing on shifting a lot of quality work, my writing and what makes me happy than what's expected. I've written a short film that we are hopefully getting made. In the meantime using my stand up comedy and 'Bring Your Own Baby' to pay the bills while to pursue bigger goals that are new because if you're doing something you love like telling jokes for years, your goals start to shift and then you think what else is out there? So I think I will be producing good quality comedy and if that doesn't work out I'll just be a dog walker [laughs].
Check out Carly's 'Bring Your Own Baby' comedy shows here.