Lessons in life from funny man

ROB Rouse has got into trouble for blowing his own trumpet.

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Rob Rouse may have been a latecomer to comedy but he's fast building an army of fans
Rob Rouse may have been a latecomer to comedy but he's fast building an army of fans

Not that the affable comic, who headlines the Stand next Monday, is an egomaniac.

He's talking about a series of tongue in cheek trumpet lessons that he posts on his website and YouTube, where he plays a piece of music with less than perfect accuracy.

"I got a very, very aggressive response from an American guy on YouTube, who had a profile picture of an American footballer smashing into someone," says Rob.

"He was basically saying shut up, you suck at playing the trumpet, so I'm thinking of doing a spoken word response to him and seeing if I can wind him up any further.

"I think I'll say, 'thanks very much for his feedback and that maybe he's brought out some issues within himself that he needs looking at'. Or maybe I'll just play the Star Spangled Banner-"

Rob's music might not be meeting with universal praise, but his comedy style has certainly been a success.

He's a regular on a variety of TV panel game shows, is one of the most popular touring stand-ups around and has dabbled in acting and script writing.

He's bringing his new show, Life Sentences, to the Stand, and he believes this routine features more personal material, inspired by the birth of his daughter.

"It's very frank and I think it's very funny," he explains.

"I've just tried to write stand-up from my guts, there's no story or 'what's this all about' kind of element.

"The idea came around after the birth of my daughter. Inevitably, it made me look at the world much more through feminine eyes, much more than before. It gave me a new angle of thought."

Comedy may not be new to Rob anymore, but he came to it surprisingly late.

While many comics cut their teeth on the circuit from their teens onward, it took Rob until his mid-20s before he hit upon the idea of having a go at stand-up, giving up on his previous career as a geography teacher.

Yet Rob doesn't think that coming to comedy late hindered him at all

"I don't think it matters what age you do it at, as stand-up is not a normal thing for a human being to do," he explains.

"It's normal for humans to make jokes and hold court with each other, but not in a professional setting. There's a confidence that comes with maturity and we all grow up at different rates.

"When I started I was a very young 24, if I'm honest, and I used to hide behind a fairly mental act. My act is now a lot more of me being me, rather than hiding behind weirdness."

He's seen the rise of recent Scottish comics first hand, too, having supported Kevin Bridges, inset, in the past. And there's another Scottish comedian that looms large as an influence, too.

"I gigged with Kevin before he rose up into the stratosphere, and he's brilliant," says Rob.

"Frankie Boyle really makes me laugh, and Billy Connolly was one of the first people that made me switch on to stand-up."

Something that raises the otherwise laid back comic's anger, however, have been the recent education changes proposed by the Coalition Government.

As a former teacher Rob isn't convinced the changes will work, while he's unhappy that a revamp of exams was announced just as results for pupils were coming out.

"I, ultimately think that this Government seem totally out of touch with the majority of people's lives," he says.

"I find that distasteful and disgusting – they're harking on about getting more taxes from people and yet have Philip Green [Topshop owner and multi-billionaire tax avoider] as an advisor.

"It's a bit maddening, and it's a bit disrespectful to announce about the exams just after kids worked hard to get through them.

"Even if expert advice suggested that we need to change the way kids learned, and there's progressive thought in there, that's a good thing, but the way they presented it to kids who'd sat their exams was really unpleasant and crass.

"Plus, Education Secretary Michael Gove looks like he's constantly blowing a raspberry-"

n Rob Rouse plays the Stand on Monday, tickets £12 from www.thestand.co.uk

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