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Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp

Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp is a festival of ideas, knowledge, stories, books & adventures.

I have been a comedian for more than 30 years. I travel the world doing comedy. I almost drowned in Thailand, got maced in Paris and had my own Late Night Talkshow in the Netherlands. Whenever I can I will share my adventures with you on this Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp podcast.

Apr 11, 2014

This episode was recorded in London.

Very often in interviews I have said that getting in with London was the key to me getting in with all of these world wide comedy circuits, specifically me getting in with the Comedy Store. My guest today is Don Ward, the owner of the Comedy Store.

Since its opening in 1979 it has single handedly changed the British comedy scene from tired old pub comedians doing Mother in law jokes to the champions league of powerful original comedy that it is today. It is now an established institution of British comedy because every British comedy legend of the past 30 years has performed there. Don Ward is the visionary who made this work and who has witnessed the development and rise of these now household names, French & Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Eddie Izzard, Ben Elton, Jimmy Carr, Harry Hill and on and on.

The first time I ever did a set at the Comedy Store was in 1994. Then again in 1998 which led to me playing there regularly in 1999. In 2000 the Comedy Store started managing me for Europe while I lived in Amsterdam. You could say I had life by the balls back then and I was most certainly spoiled by being under the loving umbrella of the Comedy Store. Don Ward always treated me like a king and I always enjoyed speaking with him about comedy. I love and respect the man dearly. I love him like a relative in fact. Then I fucked up....

I've been working on writing a book the past few years and I will go into more details there because in the story of my life Don Ward and the Comedy Store is an important chapter. The truth of the matter was that I was partying too much in London after shows and I frightened myself enough to decided to take a break on the place for a while when I moved back to the US in 2004. 

I should have communicated with Don better about what was going on in my life. I owed him that. I owed him the respect her deserves so I wish I had been more honest with him. Needless to say feelings got hurt and it took me many years to mop up the mess that I had made. 

I missed London and all my friends there so I just started going back a few years ago. One of my main reasons to go back was to set things right with Don Ward and apologize to him for me being such a schmuck. Last year when I was in London I went into Don's office and had the heart to heart talk with him. I told him since my Dad and my sister died I now see that the most important thing in life is the relationships you have with people. I told him how important he is to me, how I appreciated him treating me like a king and that I was ashamed and sorry over how I had disappeared on him. He could have rightfully told me to fuck off. Thankfully he welcomed me back to the Comedy Store and told me how that is all water under the bridge now. 

This episode is very important to me because it was recorded between shows on Saturday February 22, 2014, the first weekend I have performed there in ten years. This episode is the end of a circle that took me ten years to get around to the other side of because of my mistake.

Never turn your back on the people who give you love and respect. 

Don Ward is a living legend in the world of comedy because he has seen it all and presented the greatest comedians the world has every known. One day the British government will put a historical marker in front of the Comedy Store but until then we have the wealth of knowledge living in the museum of Don's mind. 

This episode is very important to me because it is with someone I love and respect and that was crucial to my development as a world wide performer. It is my pleasure to present to you now, the one and only Don Ward.