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Julian Dutton: ‘There’s no substitute for working and gaining experience’

Julian Dutton has starred in a host of BBC Radio 4 comedy shows and begun doing European tours for the British Council. Photo: Robert Nesbitt Julian Dutton has starred in a host of BBC Radio 4 comedy shows and begun doing European tours for the British Council. Photo: Robert Nesbitt

Julian Dutton opens in Do You Think That’s Wise? – the Life and Times of John Le Mesurier at the Bath Comedy Festival from March 30-31, then touring, including a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

My first job was an international stage tour of The Importance of Being Earnest and The Taming of the Shrew – in France, the Netherlands and Germany. It was run by the British Council – the aim of the company was to take “classics of the British stage” to Europe. I don’t think I had an agent so when I saw the ad in The Stage I applied for an audition directly to the producer.

I auditioned somewhere in Kentish Town – I think it was in the old church that used to be the Drama Centre. It was all great fun. I never used to get nervous and I still don’t. It was a four-month tour playing wonderful theatres across Europe and we were playing in repertory so it offered good experience of switching
roles night by night. I was bowled over by the reception from audiences and by the quality of the theatres – even the smallest towns in the remotest places seemed to have fabulous theatres.

I made loads of friends and I think the key to success when starting out is making contacts and friends. I also learned a key skill when performing comedy – and that’s to learn how to ride a laugh and sharpen timing in order to achieve that laugh. Those skills apply whether you are performing stand-up comedy or a comedy play.

I would advise a beginner to do anything and everything in order to gain experience – even generate your own work, stage your own play, put on your own show. There’s no substitute for working and gaining experience.

CV: Julian Dutton

Age: 53
Training: RADA summer school
Theatre includes: Absent Friends (national tour), The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (West Queen’s Theatre), The Candidate (New End Theatre Hampstead), European tours of Taming of the Shrew, The Importance of Being Earnest
TV includes: Pompidou, The Big Impression, Time Gentlemen Please, Ronni Ancona and Co, Friday Night Armistice, Scoop
Other credits: Own comedy shows on BBC Radio 4 including Truly, Madly, Bletchley, The Harpoon and Polyoaks. National comedy tours supporting Harry Hill, Al Murray and Jenny Eclair
Agent: RBM Comedy

Julian Dutton was talking to John Byrne

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