I was very excited to see that the names of the comedians appearing on Live at the Apollo were being announced today. I could scarcely wait to click on the link and see if this was going to be my year. Surely it had to be. After 27 years in the business and ten years back on the circuit and fourteen solo tours, it must be my turn to show the UK what I can do on the premiere TV stand up show.
So imagine my fury when I saw that not only had my hard work not been rewarded, but that the list was just packed with women posing as comedians and ethnics. Out of the eighteen comedians there are three women posing as comedians and three ethnics and only twelve white males (and one of them is from Canada or somewhere). It’s political correctness gone mad. I admit that the women posing as comedians have been posing as comedians for so long, working undercover, that they have somehow become top rate comedians, but that’s only due to the ludicrous opportunities they are given (like taking up one sixth of the places on a stand-up show, when women make up something like one ninth of the population - check that before publishing - and ethnics make up about 60% of the population thanks to our open door immigration policy and so it's ridiculous that they get one sixth of the spots - no wait, they should get way more by that logic. I've confused myself with my poorly thought out views based on guessed bits of evidence). Also they have used hard work, rather than natural white male talent like I have, which is hardly fair. One of the bills even has a woman and an ethnic and only one white man on it. At least on the others the white men will be able to win the crowd back, but how is poor Jon Richardson going to cope?
Where are the over 45 year old comedians? There’s only Simon Evans and possibly Russell Kane (oh sorry, no, he’s 34 as is made very clear on wikipedia, god knows what kind of life he must have led to look so ravaged). Where are the comedians born in Yorkshire and then raised in the South West? Where are the comedians who aren’t really very good at stand up and for whom Live at the Apollo would not be their natural audience? All prejudiced against and effectively censored.
I’ve just noticed that coincidentally I fit into all those categories, but I wasn’t complaining on behalf of myself there. But on behalf of social injustice and prejucide against white, middle-aged, Kings of Wessex Old Boys.
Of course, I am just being satirical (in such an obvious way that surely I should be asked on Mock the Week pretty soon, but I can’t get on there due to it being swamped with ethnics and women posing as comedians and bald people). Comedy is safely in the hands of the patriarchy, don’t worry.
But seriously, come on, it’s ridiculous that I’ve never been on. What’s that all about? When will people start campaigning about this clear bias? It can’t be that I am too shit or that I am working in a profession with huge competition of talented people trying to get very limited opportunities. Someone is to blame and it’s not me or luck. I just want to be on the telly, please let me be on the telly.
Who needs telly, when you can travel the country and perform for very select audiences who can then go to all their friends and act out your routines for them? Not me. I wouldn’t even go on Live at the Apollo if they paid me. Or definitely unless they paid me. I might be prepared to pay them a small amount. Or give Ian Apollo a hand job for the opportunity. Back to the Sheffield Comedy Festival today for what is it, maybe the sixth year running now? I sold 276 tickets, which I think is a little bit down on last year and certainly less than the glory days of four years ago (where I might have even nearly sold out the room - it’s got a capacity of 466), but if I could do as well as that everywhere I went I would be very happy indeed. And I get a properly lovely and comedy literate crowd here who even laughed at my Andrew Lawrence joke, which I’d tossed in as an aside for my own amusement (if you don’t know what I am talking about, then this will make a lot more sense of this entry). And given that Noel Fielding was playing the bigger room in the same venue I was relieved to get anyone at all. It turned out he’d sold about 1200 of his 2500 tickets so as I pointed out the audience proportionately I had done much better than him. They cheered this a bit too much, really, to the extent that I felt patronised, but I was glad to have their support. Fielding tours in two massive buses (he has other people in his show, it’s not like one is for Him1 and the other for Him2), whilst I was in a hire car with just my new tour manager George and a Christmas tree costume and sombrero which I can rarely actually use as most venues aren’t suitable for my finale. It must be fun touring with a big crew of people, but I don’t envy Fielding his success. If you allow bitterness and jealousy to overcome you in this business then you end up ranting like an egotistical maniac on social media. I’m not saying I’ve never done that to some degree and it’s scary to think that lack of interest might end your career. But I don’t think I would have swapped tonight. The audience I have built up over 14 years of solo touring might not fill the big venues and only half fill the medium venues, but they get what I am doing and they are also really great people. Maybe If I had been on Live at the Apollo the venue would be full, but would the other 200 people be as cool/uncool as the ones who’ve followed my work for years? Would they be patient enough to let me try out a show like this one, which is a bit more thoughtful and less rude than the 15 minute set that I would do on TV?
Even if it does all crumble and end, I am proud of what I have achieved in the last decade and even though this year has given me a few gut punches, I appreciate how fucking amazing it is that I can make a living at this fucking wondrous job, doing exactly the stuff that I want to do. I may not have as many people in at Loughborough and Lancaster in the next two days, but when I stop and think about it I can’t believe that anyone would pay to come and watch me talk. You’re only competing against yourself in this job. And nobody to the same extent as I am. I am glad that the success of newer acts like Pascoe, Widdecombe and Ryan delights me, rather than makes my insides knot up in envy. Ultimately I prefer comedy as an art form to my own success, so I don’t think I will end up full of anger, selling my DVDs in Woolworths, dressed up as a moon on a stick, cursing those who have destroyed my career with their political correct nonsense.
But there’s still time.
The audio James Acaster RHLSTP is now up on the British Comedy Guide and iTunes