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Richard Blackwood on climbing the comedic ranks

RESPECT: Richard Blackwood has kept his feet on the ground

IT’S IMPORTANT to salute those that come before you. Sharing a tale of why he will always honour those who blazed a trail before him, Richard Blackwood spoke to The Voice candidly about climbing the comedic ranks.

“The black circuit has its stages of developing new stars. When Slim and I started, our pioneers were Curtis Walker, Ishmael Thomas, Geoff Shuman, Leo Chester, Jefferson and Whitfield, and Roy Diamond and Felix Dexter.

“They were the people that we aspired to be like. I remember the first time I had to follow Curtis and he is a doctor when it comes to stand up, he is surgical, that’s the best way for me to describe it. When he goes on stage, if you can follow that.

“We were outside of London and he had to shoot off so he had to go on before me and I remember he tore this place down. And then he said to me, ‘gotta go, have a good one’. He didn’t mean it in a bad way but he had another gig, he was double booked. “My friend at the time looked at me and said ‘yo, he’s not even on stage anymore and the crowd are still laughing’.

“I was called to go on and the audience was still laughing. Back then I didn’t know how to go on stage and continue to ride that emotion, now I could ride off the joke, but if you don’t know how to do that you could lose the crowd. “I did it and got off afterwards for my friend to tell me I was a true veteran because the show was over before I had got on, but I dug deep to get something.

“That’s what the circuit was like, it produced real comedians that had to know their craft. I learned a lot that night.”

Saluting another legendary contributor to the black British comedy scene, Blackwood recalls the time he was given the best advice he’s received.

He enthused: “Years and years ago I was at the St Matthews church in Brixton where they used to have comedy nights, I’d just done The Real McCoy and Blouse and Skirts, my name was buzzing and the circuits it was definitely buzzing.

“I remember Leo Chester was standing there with the Nation Of Islam and he pulled me to one side and said, ‘Richard, I’m watching you and there is a lot of things happening for you, I’ve got one piece of advice, never believe your own hype, do you understand what I am saying to you?’. I said I did and he told me I would be fine.

“What he probably doesn’t know is that until this day I adhere to that because he knew I was going to take off, he could feel I was about to go and he was like, ‘you’re going to go to a place where a lot of us haven’t been, so it’s going to be very hard to gauge what’s reality and what’s not, but if within yourself you understand that people didn’t care before you got here, you will be fine’.”

This article originally appeared in the Windrush 70 souvenir edition of The Voice. The coveted issue has been reprinted and is now available for purchase again. Find out how to get your copy here.

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