The future is always daunting. With graduation looming, the concept of what the future may hold, or what your future career might be is terrifying. Wessex Scene have caught up with some intriguing people with extremely intriguing careers to prove that you can really be anything you want to be. Your degree really isn’t the be all and end all in the real world, so be inspired and take from this what you will.
Introducing Dan Attfield – a software engineer by day, comedy improviser by night. He plays guitar for two different groups: Abandoman and The RH Experience. Residing in North London, this talented 30 year old plays monthly shows and continues to tour. With Portugal, Reading and Leeds and Edinburgh Festival in his repertoire for this year alone, his career certainly offers exciting opportunities.
Dan describes his improv career as stand up comedy or freestyle hip hop. His first introduction to playing music started off at Applemore College in Southampton where he was offered free music lessons. Realising the clarinet wasn’t for him he took up guitar instead. Dan was finally able to play what he listened to – 90s Rock (e.g. Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana), Classic Rock and Blues. Dan described his first electric guitar.
I picked up an electric guitar which, I think, my mum bought from Argos for my brother; a crumby little 40 quid guitar. One of the first songs I learned was Polly by Nirvana
Comedy didn’t kick off until university. Whilst Dan studied German and Russian academically, he got into a sales job after graduation. Emphasising that he’d been programming since he was 7 or 8, Dan knew that programming was what he really wanted to do. Since taking up both software engineering and comedy, Dan decided multitasking was the best way forward.
I thought it would be good to combine all of my interests in as many ways as I can. Doing what I do was the best opportunity for that cause there are so many different scenes, so many different things going on and you can learn a lot from some really cool people
Dan clearly met some very cool people. He met the RH Experience (Luke Spillane, Tom Webster and Conor Jatter) through getting involved with Hoopla improvisation, taking part in workshops and going to club nights. After a few jam sessions, they decided to start working together permanently. It was through one thing which led to the other and, having seen Abandoman perform in Edinburgh, Dan was invited along to jam with them.
Dan is influenced by those around him. He named some of the creators of Austentatious – an improvised Jane Austen Novel, a group called the Pioneers and the lead in Abandoman, Rob Broderick.
The guy is a wizard, I don’t know how he does what he does. The guy has been free-styling since he was 9 years old and he’s incredible. Getting to go on stage with that guy everyday is really inspiring.
So what is gained from such a career? He enjoys how ephemeral it all this. It feeds a short attention span. The desire to travel and meet new people is also satisfied with gigs in Ireland, at universities and at festivals such as Glastonbury and Bestival. Dan praises the people he meets with enthusiasm.
Everyone is really appreciative of the art form. It’s really awesome to meet other people who are creating stuff
If you’re interested in getting in to comedy and musical improvisation, Dan gives some very good advice. Go to workshops, go to drama clubs. If you can, go to London where the improv scene has really blown up. Dan recommended Meetup.com if you want to find like-minded people in your area. He also suggests reading books: namely Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier.
Finally, the Wessex Scene wondered if anything ever goes wrong.
Obviously with the nature of the whole improv thing, stuff goes wrong all the time and you kind of see that as very much a gift. You try and make the most of it. There are so many people that you meet and they’re all such characters. I remember one particular night we were at the underbelly festival on the Southbank in London. Having just done a song called ‘F*** the Police’ by NWA, Rob realised there were two policeman in the front row, both of which were significantly larger than everyone in the band. It was all in good spirits of course.