Stand-up comedian, circus performer, podcaster, Mr Gay England finalist – with Aaron Twitchen the list goes on and on…
If it wasn’t documented or filmed, you’d think Aaron Twitchen was a fantasist. Largely thanks to his strategy of saying ‘Yes’ to everything, along with a big injection of talent and energy, he has an eclectic CV.
A comedy gig while swinging 20 metres in the air on silks you say? No problem for Aaron. In his show, Curtains at Edinburgh Festival in 2017 he did just that – and he’s done it a few times since. We asked him if stand-up isn’t scary enough without the jeopardy of breaking a few limbs? Aaron explains: “Everyone assumes stand-up is scary, but people don’t understand how arrogant and self-obsessed comedians are! I just like talking about myself.” Aaron’s not sure whether it was the best, worst or stupidest idea he’s had, but he’s still looking for ways to combine silks with stand-up.
Aaron is about to perform at Birmingham Comedy Festival which kicks off this month, but no circus stuff is planned. Or is it? When we spoke, he wasn’t sure which material he’d be performing, so who knows. He says he has loads of material, but he’s not 100 per cent decided and moots the idea of hanging the material on the wall of the venue and asking audience members to chuck a dart at it to decide which he’ll perform. We think he’s joking, but the organisers might want to check their insurance! Aaron says: “Basically it will be me just wanging on.”
Thanks to his yes mentality, Aaron ended up in an acting and writing workshop with Brum’s Barbara Nice which we imagine was hysterical and also landed a job in physical theatre as a circus performer by telling a little, well quite big actually, lie.
He says: “I did that thing in an audition where if someone asks you if you can do random things, just say yes. So, I said I had circus skills. I got the job and had six weeks to learn.” It turns out Birmingham is practically the capital of circus skills training – there’s Circus Mash in King’s Heath, Rogue Play in Digbeth, Diamonds, and so on. Who knew? It all came good and he’s a natural although he does confess, almost as though it’s a negative, that he is disciplined, so you can bet he put in the hard graft too.
ON THE ROAD
Weirdly, a skill from his childhood got Aaron through the toughest part of stand-up – the travelling. Aaron remembers: “As a county long distance runner I travelled the country and the biggest hurdle to stand-up in the beginning is the travelling. I was used to it. Schlepping four hours up the motorway to perform to 10 people and travel back again isn’t the dream.” It was fun though. Aaron says there was a bunch of comedians in Brum starting out together and they used to bundle in a car and head to Bristol for comedy night on a Thursday and he made some great mates.
When Covid lockdowns stopped live performance, stand-up came to a screeching halt. Aaron found he quite liked the glacial pace of life although no circus training for four months wasn’t great. “I spent a few months hanging from door frames and setting up equipment in a tree.” Lockdown also gave Aaron an opportunity to launch a podcast, Matter of Pride: A Comedy Education of Gay History which breaks down some of the modern issues affecting queer culture in a well-informed, thoughtful series with enough comedy to keep it typically light and bright.
Aaron’s long-term ambition is to ‘keep being funny’ – a decent goal for a comedian! Go see.