Qualified to know the value of a joke

18th August 2006 at 01:00
Born: 1974.

Job: Stand-up comedian.

Attended: Elm Park college, Stanmore; North London College in Holloway and Hendon College, 1990-91.

Qualifications: BTEC business and finance diploma.

"At the age of 16 or 17, it is easy not to take your studies too seriously, particularly when you are doing a subject that is going to be of little use to you in your professional career. So it would be fair to say that I found my time at college tough.

"I was at three colleges and never really settled down enough to enjoy the experience.

"Further education is a different place to be as a student. You move from being taught by teachers at school to being lectured by lecturers. It's not as personable.

"At the end of my life in education, I achieved a BA 2.1 in media. Along with that I have a business diploma.

"I'm not sure if it had any direct relevance to becoming a professional stand-up comedian but I'm sure it helped somewhere along the line. I can work out my jokes per pound rate, if that helps.

"While at Hendon College, I met a drama teacher who held a class at lunchtime. It lasted about two classes because I was the only student that attended.

"He advised me to take up stand-up comedy for some reason. I don't know why. He told me that he had tried but failed. I'd always wanted to do stand-up and a few years later I did and I am still performing.

"I do keep in touch with a friend, Sohail, whom I met at Elm Park College.

He is like a best friend ... he also happens to be my accountant.

"There was a fair bit of violence around at college too. Life was tough, man, there were some steaming gangs who would whip in off the street and mug students.

"At North London College you had to go through a metal detector and have a bag check. Security was high then. These days I think you need a passport to get in. But they all had good pool tables.

"College can make students a lot more independent and worldly. It's really up to them during that stage in their life, making it a definite transitional period.

"I planned to study media. It was difficult to move into this field, as I had no prior qualifications. This meant I spent a year doing a computer science degree then took a year out and made a short film. This helped me back onto my chosen subject.

"If I had my time at college again, I probably would have worked a little harder. But, more importantly, I would probably have chosen a different course. You only know this in hindsight. But it's always a learning curve contributing to your growth as a student and a person."

Paul Chowdhry was talking to Sheka Bhatia

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