Though he left England more than a dozen years ago, Dallas-based comedian Steve Hirst still has what most Americans would consider a strong accent. His countrymen disagree. “Whenever I go into the pubs in England they’re like ‘Look the Yank’s here. Get him a pint of Bud Light!’”
Having been here so long, he has moved away from telling jokes about the differences between the U.S. and Great Britain.
“I start by letting them know I’m English,” he explains. “Otherwise, through the whole show, people think I’m Australian. ‘He’s Scottish,’ ‘No, he’s Irish.’ I get that out of the way so they know that it’s done. Then I can talk about regular things in America. With the English accent it sounds different, but I’m talking about things they can relate to. I think that it surprises them that I get it (all) because they don’t know I’ve been over here for 12 years.”
Hirst does miss England at times, but feels quite at home in America. “I’m more Americanized now,” he says. “I’ve accepted the way things are here, and I enjoy them. I like America as a country. I think it’s a good country, and I like Americans. I think, in general, Americans are nice people. The media kind of portrays them not to be, but they’re actually, dead, dead honestly … friendlier than most other countries I’ve been to.”
His son Owen lives here, too, another reason Hirst’s gone Yank. “(He’s) named after Michael Owen who scored a hat-trick against the Germans to knock them out of the World Cup in 2002,” he says. “It was actually a … (qualifying) match, but he’s still a hero. I said to my wife, ‘We have to call him Owen or Beckham.’ She goes, ‘I think Owen’s a better first name.’”
Hirst originally came to the U.S. to work at a day camp in Upstate New York for people with disabilities. On a day off he auditioned for a slot at a drama school, and wound up being awarded a full scholarship. After graduation he bartended, and then decided to try stand-up because, “I got fired form every job I ever had.” He soon found steady work hosting karaoke competitions as Austin Powers. “A lot of bars picked it up,” he recalls. “It was just hard doing Austin Powers for four hours, every week in the same places.” But, he was able to parlay that success into a gig emceeing at a Ft. Worth comedy club. “I just threw the Austin Powers in at the end as my closing bit and it was so strong, it just moved me up the ranks real quick. Very lucky.”
These days Hirst doesn’t do much in the way of impressions, though his newest bit runs along those lines.
“I’m working on a new bit about the Blue Man Group,” he says. “(It’s) going to be interesting. I might have that ready for San Antonio, I don’t know yet.” He’s still trying to work out the logistics. “I like doing props. The problem is when you have to put your props together the way you want it, you have to make the props or adapt them to how you want, and that’s difficult. But I’ve got about 85 percent of it done, so I’ve just got the one last thing to do. If I can pull this off, then I can be showing it to the people in San Antonio.”
While he is looking forward to unleashing his new Blue Man Group skit, Hirst says his favorite part of the act right now is one about ghosts. “Every ghost has an English accent in America in the horror movies,” he observes. “This leads me to believe that ghosts don’t exist because there’d be different types. Then I do a redneck ghost, a Chinese ghost, a black ghost, a Mexican ghost. That `part is` always the gauge of me doing well, that one joke.”
Hirst is still interested in acting, but his focus for now remains firmly on stand-up.
“With the economy struggling as much as it is you’re pretty much going to take all the work you can get,” he says. “You really don’t want to be turning down `live` dates for an audition you might not get.” •
8:30pm showtime, 10:45pm Fri & Sat
The Rivercenter Comedy Club
849 E. Commerce