Learning the Ropes


We caught up with comedian and life-long wrestling fan Carl Hutchinson to discuss ‘Learning The Ropes’, his new solo comedy show about realising a boyhood dream and becoming a professional wrestler. What we found out was that we can expect a lot of laughs, deep philosophical questions, and proof that Rampage Brown is as mean as you think!

 carl hutchinson

Hi Carl, how’re you? I understand you’ve had a busy day?


Yeah, I’m just goosed of my wrestling training at the moment, they’ve really upped it at NGW in Birtley because I’ve had a few gigs. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been in the Middle East, so when I came back they were like, “Yeah. We’re doing proper fucking warm-ups now!” Let’s see, what did I do… I went for a swim, did a load of sit-ups and a load of weights just to warm up, like. Then when I go to the wrestling you go in, to start off you do 100 squats, then 50 press-ups, then they get you to lie down and get up, but you got to get up on your side as you would in the ring. And you gotta do that until they tell you to stop.


Jesus, that sounds…


* laughs * No wait, THEN you get in the ring and you jog on the spot, take a load of back bumps, get up as quickly as you can and when the guy yells “GO!” there’s a sequence where he whips you into the corner and you have to vault, and another guy runs under your legs, y’know? And you do 10 drills of those each. * laughs * AND YOU’RE NOT DONE THEN! You get out, you lock up, then go down and do a burpee. Lock up, burpee, lock up, burpee. And then you have to pick the guy up that you’re working with – who’s hopefully the same weight – and just walk up and down the gym with him until they tell you to stop. All of these drills are until they tell you to stop. And finally there’s just a load of box jumps. I was nearly – I say nearly I WAS sick four times.


Mate, that sounds rough! Sounds like something out of Louis Theroux’s ‘Weird Weekends’ trip to the WCW Power Plant.


* laughs * Yeah with Sarge! The difference is I didn’t fucking quit! I’ve seen enough of those things to know you just can’t quit, so I got me sorry arse up and did it all again today. As much as I can do! So yeah, I’m fucking knackered!


Well, if there’s one thing wrestling has taught me it’s that there’s a lot more honour in passing out than there is tapping out!


There ya gan! Well, yeah that’s the long answer to how I’m doing like, sorry about that!


No problem, so who’s the head trainer keeping you on your toes?


That’ll be Rampage Brown. And let me tell you, he doesn’t take any shit like. If other people want to stop he’ll just pick ‘em up and make them do the press-ups himself. Last week I was being sick in the toilets, and I didn’t see this but Rampage was just over the other side looking at us, and he said “Carl, when you’ve finished fucking about we can get back to work, alright?” * laughs * I’ve just spent ten days in Dubai, in the sun drinking beer, and now I’m in a manky gym doing this!


Well, it sounds like you’re suffering for your art!


Well yeah that’s it, it’s all for the show and after that it’s all for the documentary, that’s the long-term plan.


So the show’s called ‘Learning The Ropes’ tell us a bit about it.


It’s a bit a mad show really, my love of wrestling is actually discovered in the show so there’s a reason to talk about it. I was reading this book about Archimedes and – I don’t want to go all the way in to it but basically – He’s the guy who first said “Eureka!”, but the guy who actually told the story, a guy called Vitruvius, told it 200 years later. I thought “that takes some balls that, getting famous for something someone else did 200 years ago!” It’s the equivalent of me doing that to someone who died in 1815. So during the show I find this guy called Johann Peter Salomon, a famous German composer. Now he’s best remembered for bringing Hyden – another, more famous German composer – to England and it turns out that even on his tombstone it says “He brought Hayden to England”. And I thought, its such a shame that everything else he did in his career is overshadowed by that. So that got me thinking if I died tomorrow, what would be my legacy? So far I just do stand up and watching wrestling in my spare time.


So that lets me talk about my childhood, and lets me ‘come out’ as a wrestling fan. But there are two things people say when you tell them you’re a wrestling fan: It’s fake, and it’s gay. So I have to spend a bit of time defending wrestling and explaining why I like it. Once I’ve done that I explain that you can only be a fan of something so long until you have to try it yourself, so that leads us in to talking about what I’ve been getting up to at NGW. So although the training is a big part of the show, it’s not the only part. I’m really excited to be doing it.


I suppose if you just advertise the show as being about a guy wanting to become a wrestler you might turn some people off.


Exactly, and it’s not just about that, its more about being as big a fan of something as you possibly can and y’know, it’s not uncommon for people who love football to want to be footballer, so I guess I’m just doing my bit. And talking of football, when people say wrestling’s fake, I say “Well it’s no different from your player going down in the box with no contact, but still 50,000 people scream for a penalty!”, we all know the deal!


Personally I always say “Do you like Star Wars? Same thing!”


I always talk about the soap opera aspect of it too. Take Kane and the Undertaker, they’ve been with each other, against each other… they’re the Mitchell brothers! Steve and Lloyd from Corrie just sit around in a taxi rank all day drinking beer, one’s black one’s white – that’s just the APA isn’t it? Nick from Corrie was played be three different actors, that’s just Doink the Clown! I’m only gonna get the chance to do wrestling stand-up show once so you night as well have some fun with it!


* laughs * I like that, those are some pretty specific wrestling references for your average crowd! Maybe among your wrestling mates you can get them to throw you any wrestler to you can try and include them in the show?


Hey, if I can reference Bull Buchanan in the show I can get anyone in!


So we’ve heard about the physical aspects of your wrestling training, what about your gimmick? Have you got that sorted? Are you cutting promos?


Oh yeah, the gimmick will feature in the show, and the best storylines always have that hint of reality in them. Jerry Jarrett always went on record saying “If you tell the truth about A, B, C and D, you can have a bit of fun with E”, so the whole gimmick is: Mick Foley, Roddy Piper, Jim Cornette, Bret Hart, Shawn Micheals have all left wrestling and have started doing live comedy, or Q&As, or having successful UK speaking tours. My angle is, speaking as a guy who’s trying to make it as a comedian and seeing all these washed up old wrestlers coming over and stealing a living from stand-up comedians: fuck this! I want to be the first stand-up to get in to wrestling. I want to hurt as many people as I can so there are no more wrestlers transitioning in to comedy.


I love the sound of that! It sounds like you’re set up for a super-feud with Calling Spots Hall of Famer, Jim Smallman from PROGRESS!


* laughs * That’d be great! I’m really good friends with Jim so we could sort that out! He actually put me in contact with Rampage at NGW!


I thought there’s no way two wrestling-loving comedians wouldn’t know each other! It must be a pretty similar thing to wrestling where people in comedy all sort of know each other?


Oh God yeah, the best time is at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, because it’s in August, which means SummerSlam! So for the first three weeks everyone’s worried about their shows and that but on the Friday before you’ll remember, “Oh shit! It’s SummerSlam!” The last two SummerSlams I got to watch with Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana because I was on their show the night of the PPV, so managed to just go back to their house and watch it with them, which was awesome!


But that’s not the only wrestler-related Edinburgh Festival experience you’ve had, tell me about the time you supported Mick Foley!


Oh God, that was a dream come true mate, honestly. It was all down to Chris Brooker, another comedian who’s responsible for people like Regal and Foley coming over to do tours. He was the first one to take a chance on it, and I remember at the time, I just got a text saying “Do you want to support Mick Foley?” and I was like, “OF COURSE!” So Chris knew how many of us were in to wrestling, Jim Smallman, Brendon Burns, and made sure we all got at least two shows supporting Mick.


When I first met Mick we shared a bottle of lager and a shot of whisky each before we went on stage, and he was sat RIGHT to the side of me as I was doing me stand up, and he seemed to be enjoying it so I thought, right, I’m gonna do some wrestling material now, this is the only time I’ll be able to do it! So I do this bit about Kane pulling the door off at Hell in a Cell – “no wait it was Badd Blood ’97, that’s back when you had matches that needed pay-per-views, not pay-per-views that needed matches!”


I was a bit worried about how long I’ve been on like, and I just hear Foley from stage left shouting “Stay on, I’m enjoying it!”, so I said “Mick Foley’s just told me to stay on – SO I’M STAYING FUCKIN’ ON!”


I bet that was an experience! Well Carl, thanks very much for speaking with us, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Good luck with the show!


Thanks a lot mate!

You can catch Carl in Edinburgh this August at The Stand, for more information go to www.carlhutchinson.net and follow him on Twitter @CPHutchinson.


By Matt Hardy