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Showbiz Interview

Nathan Caton comedy interview: 'I'm more Radio 4 than MTV Base'

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Nathan Caton
Nathan Caton may not be a household name just yet, but that's likely to change before the end of 2012. An architecture student-turned-stand-up, Nathan popped up on Mock The Week last year and kicks off a Radio 4 show later this month.

He's currently on the road touring new show Get Rich or Die Cryin', so we got on the phone to talk to him all about comedy, characters, and how a hip young funnyman ended up writing for Cbeebies smash Rastamouse.

What's your new tour all about?
"It's a collection of stories about my family... the things they do in my life. And how I'm not quite the cool, slick person that I make out to be. Hence the name, Get Rich or Die Cryin'.

"I was gonna call it Get Rich or Die Tryin', like 50 Cent, but then my brother was like, 'You're too soft, you're not gangsta enough. Call it Cryin' instead of Tryin'!"

Is it a critique of gangsta culture?
"Yeah, I do kind of ridicule the whole hip-hop, gangsta stuff. I also portray how I'm not quite gangsta myself. I'm more Radio 4 than MTV Base."



Speaking of Radio 4, how have you adapted your Edinburgh show Can't Tell Me Nothin' for the station?
"In my set I talk about my family a lot and I do impressions. It's just about bringing those characters to life, giving them more depth. And just translating that character onto a radio format."

Why isn't radio as big with comics these days?
"Comedy is so massive on television at the moment - that's taken away the attention from radio comedy. I think radio comedy still is a massive thing. The Radio 4 audience is still a big one.

"When I did the stand-up recording for my Radio 4 show, the venue was sold out; there was a couple of hundred people, so it's still big. But because comedy's so massive, television takes away some of the spotlight."

Will you still do radio if you're on TV loads and selling millions of DVDs?
"Oh yeah, definitely. I'll still be doing the radio stuff, I'll still be doing the stand-up gigs, because that's what's got me to that stage in the first place. It's still my bread and butter."

How did you come to write for Rastamouse?
"It all came about when I did a pilot for Paramount a couple of years ago [The Nathan Caton Show]. One of the producers on there went on to collaborate with the writers of [the] Rastamouse [books].

"He mentioned that they were going to be making a Cbeebies series and asked if I was interested in writing some stuff. A lot of the writers that they had there were a bit older, so the they wanted a younger input, and obviously I'm from a West Indian background so knew the lingo and vibe."



What happened then?
"I met the writers of the books and it all just went from there. The next thing I know they asked me to write an episode for them, it got picked up and it got approved by the BBC and they included that. The next series comes out soon and I'm going to be writing one of the stories again for it."

What do you think about the criticism the show got for its patois and depiction of Rasta culture?
"I would say don't take it too seriously - it is what it is, which is a kids TV show. It's light-hearted fun. I heard some radio debate where they were criticising Rastamouse for the way he was talking or something he was doing, but it's a kids TV show.

"Kids aren't going to be watching and saying, 'Oh my god, what is he saying?' They just watch it to have fun and enjoy it. That's what people should do. Take it for what it is - just light-hearted entertainment."

Will you be doing more character stuff from your pilot like MC Tyree in future?
"Yes. The MC Tyree character I did a few YouTube videos of after the TV show. I wanted to include them in my Radio 4 series but there was limited time. Character is something that I definitely want to do.

"MC Tryee I'm definitely going to be working on again. I've got another character who's like my West Indian grandma in the programme Supernanny. Character's definitely something that's going to be there."



How did you feel about doing Mock The Week, given the stories about the rough edit?
"Initially I was bricking myself - absolutely nervous. A popular TV show on primetime, I didn't want to flop. It was alright. I'd heard the stories before - that it's a nightmare to get yourself heard, to get your jokes across and everyone shouts you down, but I manage to get my stuff out there.

"I knew most of the comedians there - Micky Flanagan I know from the comedy circuit. Andy Parsons I've met various times. Hugh Dennis I've met on The Now Show. It helped me along. Dara O Briain was lovely. He's like the orchestrator stopping traffic."

So it went well.
"It was cool. It was a lot of fun. It was scary. I remember sitting there thinking I need to get my first joke out. When I got my first joke out and heard the laugh I was like, 'OK, cool'. It was like doing stand-up comedy for the first time all over again - just waiting for the first laugh."

Do you enjoy doing panel shows in general?
"Yeah, definitely, I do enjoy it. I wanna get on more panel shows. I'll try to get on Mock The Week again. And get on stuff like 8 Out of 10 Cats. I think panel shows are fun. It's so popular at the moment that it's hard not to be caught up in it."

You were named Chortle's 'Student Comic Of The Year' a while back - did that give you any pressure?
"I wouldn't say pressure but it definitely got me noticed. People would go, 'Oh, OK, you've got a bit of credibility about you'. It gave me something to have on my CV to back me up if people thought I wasn't funny!"

Has your family finally accepted that you're not going back to architecture?
"I'd say 98%... and the 2% that's not is my grandma! She's from a different generation where work's going into an office where you work from 9-6 or whatever.

"When I first started she couldn't stand the fact that I was doing comedy, 'cos to her comedy's just a hobby. Now, she does consider it work, but every now and again she'll drop architecture into the conversation to remind me that I've got it... but I'm a comedian now."

Nathan Caton is on the road with Get Rich Or Die Cryin'. Tickets are available now.
The six-part Can't Tell Me Nothin' begins on February 22 at 11.15pm on BBC Radio 4.

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