Interview: James Veitch turns Apple job into Genius Bar stand-up show

Ever thought about turning your day job into a stand-up routine fit for Edinburgh Festival Fringe? James Veitch did just that.

Last month we met the hilariously smart and tech-savvy comedian in Edinburgh to find out how (and why) he turned his old job as an Apple Store Genius into his latest stand-up routine.

“It’s for anyone who’s ever had a broken heart or a broken iPhone,” Veitch tells us, as he dishes the details on his Genius Bar show. Read the full interview here.

Hi James, so what is Genius Bar all about?

“It’s about a girl that broke up with me and how I tried to solve my relationship, and my life, through the same troubleshooting techniques that I learnt at the Apple Store as a Genius three or four years ago.”

Does being an Apple Genius rank as one of your favourite jobs ever?

“Yes it was great fun working at the Genius Bar. It was great fun because I got to solve problems. People would come to me and I got to work out what was wrong; I just got to chat to people. It was like working in an emergency room except there were fewer deaths. You could always replace the phone, you can’t replace the human body – well, not yet.”

James Veitch Ticketmaster interview

So how does the job satisfaction compare as a stand-up comedian?

“I was always making jokes, I was always faking phone calls to Steve Jobs, I was always trying to make people laugh and play practical jokes. You know, coming back with an iMac and saying ‘this is a replacement for your iPhone’; I did all sorts of things, it was great fun. [There was] a lot of thinking on your feet, that sort of stuff.”

What do you feel the difference is between using comedy like that in everyday situations to being a stand-up comedian?

“I think that’s probably the difference between being quite good at cards and being a professional poker player. You could take being quite good at cards as far as it can go but then at some point you have to actually knuckle down and really craft it.”

At what point in your career did you do that with comedy?

“About four years ago I started doing comedy and really writing jokes. I got good at it about two years ago I think – good enough to perform consistently [and] make people laugh – and I’m still getting better as we go.”

Is the progress something you feel in yourself or do you judge it based on audience feedback alone?

“As a comedian, the best I can hope for is to be as funny on stage as I am in real life. That just comes from being relaxed and confident. While you and I are chatting right now, I’m relaxed and I’m confident, but on stage there’s a lot more going on. Lose your confidence for a second and the audience can tell and that makes them nervous, and when they start becoming nervous you’re not in control. So all I can hope for is to get on stage enough times that I don’t care about whether they like me or not, whether the next thing I say is going to be funny immediately. Suddenly you find yourself being funny and the audience like you, they’re there to see you. They’re not there to see things you have written, they’re there to see how you say things and your view of the world.”

James Veitch Ticketmaster interview

Having a broken heart and a broken iPhone are both relatable topics, do you think either one is worse?

“One it feels like your life has disappeared into a vacuum and there’s nothing you can do to get it back and everything around it is shattered, and the other is when a girl breaks your heart…”

Is it hard to laugh at yourself and in this case, your own broken heart? 

“No I don’t think it’s hard to laugh at yourself, what I do find hardest is to not say things; that’s where meaning comes from. I want to open up my heart but if you declare too much it just becomes a bit of a soapbox. I think everyone watches art selfishly and everyone wants to find out how they feel about themselves.”

See more from James Veitch at @veitchtweets.