Learning to juggle the revelation that led to stand-up comedy for John Mawer

An occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk by Katie Scott.

By Katie Scott
Thursday, 25th July 2019, 7:01 pm
John Mawer. Picture by Katie Scott
John Mawer. Picture by Katie Scott

For someone who has performed countless comedy stand-up acts, John Mawer is a most unassuming and modest man.

Well known throughout Coquetdale as the Director of the CADS’ (Coquetdale Amateur Dramatics) annual pantomime, John’s creative background is compelling.

Born in Plymouth in 1974, John and his family moved around quite a lot for his father’s work as a marine architect in the merchant navy. In his free time John loved listening to radio comedy shows, making all kinds of models, and role-playing games.

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When John taught himself to juggle, it was a revelation to realise that skills can be learned; they are not necessarily innate. “It feels like luck, then you realise it is skill,” he said.

John studied ElectroMechanical engineering at Aston University. This period was formative. Not the degree learning – but the social side.

“I felt like this was the year I was born into life,” he said.

John had discovered improvisation and stand-up comedy. It was a time of great inventiveness and when he was asked, in his second year, to write the pantomime for the new intake of freshers, he recalls: “It felt like the most powerful work I have done in my life, I loved it!’.

John had found his talent; this led to a life of compering and performing stand-up.

Moving to London after graduating he found lucrative work in computer technology. But it was the weekends and evenings that John lived for.

He developed his stand-up routines and was in great demand. Over the next 20+ years John’s career in building websites brought in a steady income allowing him to develop his comedic knowledge and skills.

Forming different partnerships and groups, performing and teaching improvisation at corporate workshops, helping TV execs devise new programme ideas. He even performed at an after party for the Brit Awards.

His ‘day job’ took him to America to work for 8 years, a great opportunity, but he missed his life of comedy and performance.

In 2015 John and his wife (local author, Kirsty McKay) and children settled in Coquetdale. Here he found the Newcastle based Improvisation group: The Suggestibles, of which he is now a member. Kirsty saw an advert, asking for help with the annual local pantomime. John’s creative career turned full circle.

From his first attempts at creativity at university, writing panto, here he was, in Coquetdale, writing panto again. And he couldn’t be happier.

“I love to make people laugh,” he said.

Catch John at the Improv Festival from July 27 to August 4.