Interview: Ray Bradshaw

Words: Ian C Douglas
Thursday 15 February 2024
reading time: min, words

With the Doppelginger tour coming to Nottingham in March, Ian C Douglas sat down with Ray Bradshaw to learn more about this red-letter day...


A big Left Lion welcome to Ray and let's dive straight in. What can we expect from your forthcoming show at Just The Tonic?

I'm trying to find the person in the world that looks most like me. So, bald and bearded ginger people. It's taken over my life.

So, is that why the show’s called Doppelginger?

Yeah, I'm constantly being told I look like people. Like I've got a very generic look. If you're balding, and ginger, people think you look like lots of different people. So, I thought, let's try to meet my doppelgingers. The idea stemmed from the 2016 Melbourne Comedy Festival, where a girl came up to me and she was like, what are you doing tomorrow? And I was like, well, I've got a girlfriend. Thank you very much. She was like, no, I'm not hitting on you. There's a ginger pride rally happening tomorrow.

So, I went along to Federation Square in Melbourne, and there was 600 ginger people. Then about eight months ago, I found my first grey hair. And I was like, I better do it now if I'm going to do it. So that's how it started and it's absolutely snowballed. Last week, I did a gig to 21 bald ginger people and no one else. That was my entire audience. We did that in a Sunday afternoon, and then there were two tropical storms. I think we angered the gods! And people have got really on board, actually I got a couple of submissions from Nottingham today. It's a website, they fill out a form, it comes to me and I try to always meet as many of my kind as possible.

Do you think gingers get a raw deal?

Well, I personally didn't. I think I was an anomaly. Because I played for a football team at school with five of our team ginger. Because it was Scotland or there's like an amorous milkman. Other kids related because there were five of us, it was like strength and numbers.

Also, the biggest thing that defined me at school was that my mom and dad were deaf. And I grew up learning sign language. Whereas other people may only have ginger as a defining feature. I think it's much easier to slag a ginger person rather than somebody else. And we don't have enough sexy role models, just Ed Sheeran and the Weasley brothers!

Will you be signing in BSL?

This tour is slightly different to the other ones. I did those all in sign language. My mum and dad are deaf. But performing and speaking in two languages is a challenge so this time I'm paying a BSL interpreter to deal with that. And I can have a little bit more fun.

what I enjoy is asking the audience niche questions

Has becoming a father yourself changed your comedy?

It's made me more tired. So tired! But I think my wee boy made me appreciate everything more, and condense everything. I'm very much more family orientated. So, any day off, I have to come home, even if it's a six-hour drive, just because I want to be there.

In terms of changing my comedy, it's made me accept that I'm not young anymore. Because I'm 35. In Scottish terms that's midlife. I think it's made me more aware of that. And what I’m like on stage, I’m very much the same off stage. I don't think a lot of comedians are, they have a persona on stage. So, fatherhood has not in particular changed my comedy, but I really like it. Except my boy makes me feel so old! We were at the soft play a few weeks ago. And we're playing hide and seek and he found me straightaway. And I was like, did you cheat? And he's like, no, I heard your knees crack.

Has it changed the way you look at your parents?

Definitely. It's made me really appreciate how hard my mom and dad must have worked in terms of our language skills. Signing was the only language to communicate with my dad. Yeah, I think it definitely makes you realise how much they do, but also how much they've achieved in their life. Like my mom retired, well, technically retired eight years ago, now she's back volunteering, working five days a week. She teaches people how to lip read. She helps deaf people research their family tree. She does all these different projects, just to help other people. So that kind of selflessness you notice.

Do you get hecklers?

Well, I don't get hecklers per se but what I enjoy is asking the audience niche questions. I've got a metal arm after breaking my arm pretty badly a few years ago. I've got two plates and eight pins. And I ask people if they've also got metal plates. The stories we would get! In Bristol, there was a woman who'd recently got chickens. She didn't want to step on any of her chickens, so she stepped over it and grabbed the fence. She forgot because she had chickens, it was an electric fence she got installed the day before. She electrocuted herself, fell over the chicken and broke her ankle. I think that's much more enjoyable say, than heckling. Which doesn't seem to happen anymore.

What's the secret is a good stand-up comedy?

I think just being affable. I tell stories about my life or tell stories about other people's lives in the room and things like that. There's no point if they don't like you. Fair enough, if you're someone like, Frankie Boyle. We're very different personas. I'm like the sorbet before he comes out. He doesn't care if people like him or hate him, because it's not his style, it’s his joke writing and stuff like that. Whereas my style is, if people like me, it goes that way. So, I think that's the secret and also constantly developing. Never rest on your laurels. I've been self-employed for a long time.

The pandemic taught us all that. Like I was writing football columns, I was doing radio, I was doing gym gigs, doing gigs in people's gardens. If I hadn't done all that, I would have really, really, struggled. My son was six months old. And comedy clubs in Scotland shut for 15 months. While in England, it was three or four and they would open for a bit and then shut. So weirdly, I could come to Liverpool and do a gig, but I couldn't get any on my doorstep. It was all odd. All that stuff taught me that you can't just put all your eggs in one basket.  And now my calendar is always so varied. And I enjoy that. Because I would probably lose my mind if I did the same thing over and over again.


What advice would you give any Left Lion readers aspiring to be a stand-up comedian?

Write, write, write, write as much as you can, and be arrogant. Because when you do stand-up at the start, you need to think you're one of the funniest people in the room. And I think as well, being able to do stand-up or performance or journalism or whatever you do, you don't feel like you're working because it is such an enjoyable gig. I host football radio, I am a huge football fan. I do gigs around the country, I get to travel the world. I am in such a lovely position. So, if you can get into that, never take it for granted. But my main advice at the start, if you're aspiring comic, go watch comedy. Go see different styles. I have certain comics, if I'm on with them, I will go out and watch them every time even if I've gigged them 60 times. Because they just made me laugh. They've got funny bones and or weird style. So, watch as much as you can.

Many thanks for your time Ray, any final words?

Just that I love Nottingham. Last year I did the Glee for one show and the Playhouse for another. And I've just loved it.

The Doppelginger Tour comes to Just the Tonic on Thursday March 28th 2024. 

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