Humour is my tool,” Kerry Herbert tells me. “I learnt the power of making a room laugh.” Herbert is a lady who knows all about humour: in 2015 she won a nationwide NatWest business award for best home-based business for her company Stand-Up Marketing, which provides PR services to the county’s top comedy talent. But she is also something of an anomaly in the business, being one of only a handful of comedy PRs who has experience as a successful comedian herself. It was, she tells me, a most unexpected, but invigorating career change – and its been a strange and eventful journey getting there.
“I’ve had so many different jobs,” she explains. “I’ve sold satellite dishes in Liverpool, worked on a travelling fair in Australia, worked in quality control in a knicker factory, you name it! I’m a great believer in doing a temp job as you learn something with every job you do.”
Herbert always loved books and after taking an English degree got an apprenticeship at publisher Harper Collins, where she worked in almost every department, ending up in marketing. The experience was invaluable – but then the recession struck and Herbert had to adapt very quickly to it.
“I found myself hitting 40 and my hours were reduced considerably. Things became very difficult. Then one night I was in a pub and someone told me I was funny and I discovered the whole secret world of stand-up comedy.”
Overcoming a terror of public speaking taught Herbert that if she could make people laugh she had them in the palm of her hand.
“My confidence was boosted when I made a roomful of strangers laugh on a training course. I then got my first stand-up gig and received a standing ovation. More gigs followed. I still get terribly nervous, but the more you do the better you get at it.”
Herbert took a comedy course and started going to a lot of gigs. This was in 2007 when there was a real hub of new acts in Brighton just trying things out. Herbert felt bolstered by this experimental, supportive community. How did she start putting her own act together?
“I discovered that where in a normal working job you had to present yourself in a certain way, in comedy you didn’t have to be likeable.”
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