Smart, quick, funny, different, original was how Simon Cowell described Micky P. Kerr’s final performance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2018. He’s bringing all that to Komedia in Bath on 3 April as he embarks on a huge national tour. Melissa Blease asks him about his BGT journey and his particular brand of comedy
Micky P. Kerr is one of those fortunate people who have an innate gift of being endearingly charismatic from the get-go; naturally affable and gently sharp, he has a way of making you want to smile even if he’s not trying to make you laugh. Little wonder, then, that Micky, his guitar and his super-quick wit made it all the way through to the Britain’s Got Talent final last year.
“I was belly laughing – ugly laughing! – all the way through your act,” Alesha Dixon told him, after his final moment in the BGT spotlight. “Everything that comes out of your mouth is hilarious,” Amanda Holden declared. “I absolutely love you!” David Walliams spluttered. As for Simon Cowell: “you’re so smart, so quick, so funny, so different, so original,” he proclaimed. “You absolutely nailed it!” So, Micky had all the judges eating out of the palm of his hand all the way along his BGT journey? Erm… maybe not quite.
“I was turned down in the first audition,” says Micky, talking to me in advance of his visit to Komedia, Bath next month. “But it was my own fault, really. I made a joke about a bag for life, and everyone ended up laughing at Simon a little bit too much for not knowing what a bag for life was. I pushed it a bit too far. I drove home really disappointed – I mean, what had I been thinking, pissing the main guy off? And then about a week later I got a private message from David Walliams on Twitter, saying he was going to sort it out – and he did! About a month later I got a call from the BGT producers saying they’d changed their minds. Without David – who is a genuinely nice guy who I’ve kept in touch with – none of this would be happening.”
By ‘this’, Micky means the huge national tour he’s about to embark on (Z-list Celebrity? – one can only assume that the title is ironic), followed by a headline stint at the Edinburgh Festival, the hordes of fans he’s more than happy to give selfie time to… and the fact that still being a primary school teacher for a couple of days a week might soon become completely untenable; yup, away from the bright lights, Micky P. Kerr is still just ‘Sir’ to many children. “The day job isn’t too far removed from my on-stage life, really,” he says. “There’s quite a crossover: teaching is just a presenting gig but with a different age demographic – quite a lot of teachers end up dabbling in stand-up. But when I went back to the classroom after doing BGT, it was as though the kids were all suddenly a bit scared of me even though I’d been teaching them for two years – it was weird! But after a few weeks it all died down and they were back to normal again, and I was just back to being Mr Kerr. The kids I don’t teach are far more excited to see me than my lot are!” And it’s not just kids who are excited to see him.
Just under 11-million people watched the Britain’s Got Talent 2018 final, in which Micky and fellow funny man Robert White were pipped to the post by a third comedian, Lost Voice Guy. Other acts in the final included acrobats the Giang Brothers, dance act DVJ, a choir and several singers; the lineup was, all told, quite a mixed bag, all of whom were supremely talented in very different ways. “It was kind of a little bit stressful to be up against so much talent including other comedians in the same show, but we were all coming at comedy from different angles really, so you don’t tend to compare yourself,” says Micky. “Then there were the dancers doing their thing, and the weird acrobats doing theirs, and the singers doing theirs – you just have to chill, and focus on your own act and try and be the very best at what you’re trying to do.”
The day job isn’t too far removed from my on-stage life. There’s quite a crossover: teaching is just a presenting gig but with a different age demographic
A tough gig indeed. Did he know what kind of stress he was letting himself in for when he first applied for the show? “Various producers had asked me to audition five times before I did it,” he says, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the BGT process that may come as a surprise to many people. “I finally gave in because when I did my first Edinburgh show, I saw 2017 BGT finalist Jonny Awsum sell out his whole run while I was dashing around handing out flyers and trying to pull an audience. I thought, if that’s the power of BGT I may as well give it go. I knew they’d ask me again last year, so when they did, I was straight in.”
While the public BGT open auditions are still an integral part of the whole BGT TV bandwagon, things have changed since the show was first established back in 2007. “They’ve stopped focusing on the ‘so bad it’s good’ build-up of acts that lead to the big shows because of our increasing awareness of mental health issues,” says Micky. “Okay, so some of the acts we’ve seen auditioning for BGT down the years may have made for some very funny TV moments, but what the actual person might have been going through when they auditioned – let alone what they went through afterwards – really wasn’t healthy entertainment. These days, the show simply looks for – and supports – people who can go on and do well; they’ve got scouts everywhere, all the time, looking for all sorts of weird and wonderful acts.” And Micky’s act, it seems, ticked both of those boxes, with a hefty dollop of hilarious tying the bundle together.
Now that Micky – who’s been on and off the live music and comedy circuit since 2005 – is officially on the brink of huge commercial success in his field, might there be any downside to having to be funny on a full time basis? “Being a comedian is the same as doing any other job,” he says.
“If you’re feeling a bit down or you’re not having a good day, you still have to go into work and switch on, whatever it is that you do. And you don’t need to be in a good mood to make people laugh; you just have to have good material and present it well. Stand up is as much a science as it is an art; you get used to knowing what will work well, and what won’t work well, and then you just get on and do your job.”
When it comes to inspiration for doing that job, Micky cites New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords and Billy Bailey among his personal heroes (“a lot of musical comedians are a bit twee and there’s not that many good ones around, but Bill Bailey and the Conchords are up there with the greats.”) He’s grateful to his mum and his Aunty Karen for supporting him through the BGT process (“they got to meet Ant and Dec, who are just so lovely – honestly, they’re genuinely really lovely people”), and is massively excited about welcoming his second child to Kerr world. And if you too are keen to meet daddy Kerr, rest assured he’s looking forward to meeting you, too.
“My hands were slightly tied regarding what material I could use for BGT,” he says. “There’s a lot more to what I do when I’m not so, shall we say, restricted. I’m really looking forward to unleashing myself on the Bath audience.” I guess we have been warned… n
The Micky P Kerr: Z-List Celebrity tour comes to Komedia, Bath on 3 April; komedia.co.uk/bath