Imogen Usherwood talks to Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin, recent Durham alumnus and stand up poet, ahead of his show, Don’t Bother, coming to Durham on Sunday.

Bróccan Tyzack-Carlin graduated from Durham in 2017, and now works as a comedian and spoken word poet. He was the Winner of Manchester Word War 2018, and a Hammer and Tongue National Finalist 2019 for his poetry. This Sunday 16th February will be one of the last performances of his debut solo show, Don’t Bother, as Tyzack-Carlin brings an hour of stand up poetry to the Assembly Rooms Theatre, his old stomping ground from his DST days.

What is Don’t Bother?

Don’t Bother is an hour of stand-up comedy with poems in it. It’s very dumb and silly and stupid but also EXTREMELY smart and intelligent and witty. It’s won awards and stuff and people have written reviews saying how stupid and smart it is as well, so that is literal scientific proof that it is all these things. But most importantly, it’s a show for The People. I wrote this for The People and The People alone and that’s why I included a seven minute-long existential rant poem from the perspective of Queen Elizabeth II inside the arse of a pantomime horse. Comedy is all about community and being accessible and that’s something I strive for.

Why is it called Don’t Bother?

Well, when I was writing the show I realised that what I was actually trying to do was retroactively stitch together lots of separate ideas and themes that didn’t necessarily fit. I tried to find something that tied it all up really nicely and realised that that thing didn’t exist – I decided it would be better if I didn’t bother. So I called it Don’t Bother and it started taking shape as something that parodied the very idea of having to have some sort of consistent narrative or theme to justify the existence of a comedy show. It’s a show that is about nothing. Or is it (if you could put a winky emoji here that would be great)

Has the show changed much since you started performing it?

I think so, mainly in the performance itself. I’ve done this show over fifty times now, and it’s impossible to do something that many times without keeping it fun for yourself. Improvising and changing things up and adding new lines here and there. I think the show is the best its ever been because the state it’s in now is the product of things I’ve been trying and testing out for two years. Things have been cut, but that was only to allow more room for flexibility in the performance so if I wanted to piss about with something (for maybe too long) I could.

How did Durham set you up for your comedy career?

I graduated from Durham having spent my final year in the Durham Revue – I knew I wanted to continue writing and performing, but didn’t know what form that would take. At the risk of sounding like a personal statement’s opening paragraph, I’ve liked poetry since I was Un Petit Kid. I realised I hadn’t written poetry since I was about twelve years old so started doing that to fill my evenings. Eventually I decided they might be decent enough to share so went to an open mic in Bury, and they asked me back to headline the next month’s gig. So I had to create a 20 minute set, having written about four poems in total. I decided to pad out my set with jokes and stories between the poems. I kind of became a stand-up poet out of necessity, and I’m extremely glad that that happened. I was then asked to perform some longer sets and eventually was offered an hour long slot at a fringe festival for which I wrote Don’t Bother and it all kind of snowballed from there. My style has now evolved to be about 60% stand up 40% poems, with the poems essentially serving as the punchlines to my routines. But yeah, the spoken-word scene is great and it’s full of some ridiculously ridiculously talented and funny people. Big shout out to Chris and Keri Moriarty at Just Write Speaks in Bury for giving me my original platform.

What was your time like at Durham? What did you get involved with in DST?

It was HELL. Next question.

Jokes. It was sound. Loads of fun. Good times. Good pals. Lebaneat. I did a lot more DST than degree. I didn’t really do anything until The Addams Family in second year with DULOG, and we took that to NSDF so that was a huge treat and I won an award for that – and yes, I’m still not going to let it go four years later. I worked almost exclusively with Pitch Productions in third year but also was in the Durham Revue which was a whole load of laughs.

What’s it like coming back to Durham to perform now?

I really enjoy performing in Durham. One of my first headline slots was Castle Comedy Cabaret back in 2018 and a lot of the stuff in this show was first tried out there. It’s great fun to share my stand-up and spoken word with a new wave of people at Durham because, when I was there, there wasn’t really a scene for either of those things. I think things are a lot better now. People seem much more willing to put themselves out there.

Why should students bother (pun intended, sorry) to come and watch on Sunday?

It’s WON a NATIONAL award for Best Spoken Word Show you cowards and it has been NOMINATED for REGIONAL comedy awards. It really is a very strange and funny show and I don’t think there’ll be anything else like it in the DST calendar so you might as well give it a watch. On a selfish note, it’s one of the last times I’ll ever be performing the show and it’d be great to give it a nice send off in the theatre where my comedy was staged for the first time. I do very much like Durham.


Don’t Bother will be performed at the Assembly Rooms Theatre on the 16th February 2020 at 7:30pm. Tickets available here.

Image: Bróccan Tyzack-Carlin