The Diary: Big-time beckons as Shaun goes solo

Shaun Doane ready to take his first steps into the world of stand up comedy
Shaun Doane ready to take his first steps into the world of stand up comedy
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BIG Shaun Doane, lead singer and lyrical lynchpin with Sheffield’s much-loved ukulele band the Everly Pregnant Brothers, knew he was getting famous when a fan stopped him at work. He’s a training funeral director.

“This guy said: ‘It’s you, isn’t it?’” recalls the 6 ft 5 giant. “I said: ‘It is but, er, you should perhaps concentrate on the service’.”

He may, it seems, be about to get even more well known.

Next month, the 44-year-old will take to the stage not with his seven-man comedy band who, over the last four years, have played everywhere from The Lyceum to City Hall to the toilet roof of The Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island.

Rather, he will make his debut as a stand-up comedian and live talk-show host.

The father-of-one will compare Big Shaun’s Laughing Lock In at The Greystones pub. He will do his own routine before introducing and interviewing three guests in a kind of live fire-side chat.

“If you think of a Sheffield version of Jonathan Ross, it should be a bit like that,” explains Shaun of Heeley. “Only without Jonathan Ross.”

The first of the monthly nights - on December 5 - will see comics Christian Reilly and Craig Murray as well as music journalist JoJo Smith join him on the sofa.

“Well...” he hesitates, “I say a sofa. It’ll probably be a couple of pub seats.”

Either way, the evening already promises to be a success. It’s being organised by Toby Foster - the man behind Sheffield’s Last Laugh Comedy Club - and after he announced it on Twitter last week, it sold 40 tickets almost instantly. “Shaun’s already a star,” notes Toby.

This, it seems, is true. When The Diary meets him at The Washington pub (he’s come straight from John Fairest Funeral Directors in Wadsley Bridge), a fan spots him. “I love your band, man,” he says. “No Oven No Pie!”

There’s little doubt the Everly Pregnant Brothers have become something of a Sheffield phenomenon. The band formed four years ago to play a one off show at Art In The Gardens but since then have released three albums and sold out every major city venue they’ve played. There are rumours they’re thinking of playing the Arena. “Just rumours,” says Shaun. “For now.”

Their USP is taking classic songs and giving them a Sheffield-influenced lyrical makeover. Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry becomes No Oven No Pie. The album Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones inspired Exile On West Street.

“If I wanted to sound like a tortured artist, I’d say it took weeks to come up with new words,” says Shaun. “But it doesn’t. Once an idea comes into my head, it normally takes 10 minutes.

“Why is it so popular? I think it makes people smile because it’s stuff they can relate to. The songs are funny because they’re true.”

Now, he’s hoping he can convert his onstage banter with EPB audiences into stand up laughs.

“I like to entertain people,” he shruggs. “Being on stage is where I’m happiest. I just hope people like the format. I think it has the potential to be big, especially if we get some good guests.”

Not, he says, that it will interfere with the day job.

“People think being a funeral director is morbid,” he admits. “But it’s not. I do it because I love people and I love to help them. You know, I’d love for this chat show to become so big it went on TV - but, even then, if someone asked I’d probably still do a funeral for them.”

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