I’ve been very timid about trying out stuff for my new show, “Happy Now?” I have been doing lots of gigs in clubs with bigger audiences and it seems a bit disrespectful to read half-worked out stuff off of bits of paper to them. Plus as I have so much other material to get up to speed the temptation is to just run in some of the other 17 or so hours of stand up that I will have needed to master in the next seven weeks.
But tonight at a small charity gig for Oxfam in Islington I decided to take the plunge properly and did about 30 minutes of new stuff and although it’s rough as fuck most of it had some value and the kind charity audience laughed at nearly all of it. So I feel like I am on the way with this. I have no idea if I have let myself in for a month and a half of Hell or whether this is going to be a mini-celebration of my solo career with a carnival atmosphere. I listened to Hitler Moustache on the way to the gig. This is going to be one of the harder shows to do as it’s very dense and very much a story. I was surprised by how serious much of it is and I thought the script was a little flabby in places (or maybe it was just a nervy performance - I remember the audience being a little odd and reticent). That might be a tough weekend with Headmaster’s Son being the day before. I think those might be the shows that are harder to remember. Currently my favourite shows menage a un, Headmaster’s Son and What is Love Anyway? are the ones that are selling the slowest. I think it’s fair to say that this is going to be a niche little Herring festival for the Die Hard fans (who will be disappointed as there is only one mention of Die Hard in all 12 shows as far as I recall and that’s just berating them for turning up at Michael Jackson’s house - why do they keep coming to places where they aren’t wanted?)
I recorded a podcast to publicise the run today. Jimmy Carr had suggested I filmed the whole thing for a documentary, but I don’t want to turn the project into an Edinburgh style money pit (even as it stands I will make a modest profit from the run - probably not enough to justify the work involved, but better than a kick in the teeth). I think the general lack of interest in my 12 years of work would make it quite a revealing insight into the life of the jobbing comedian.
But I can probably document the highs and lows just as well in audio. I will include some pre-show and post-show analysis and some memories of the original runs of the shows and clips of things going wrong. And perhaps I will release a download of the shows themselves for a modest fee.
I’d love it if these shows sold out and were acclaimed, of course, but I think I am doing this for myself as much as anything else (I can’t really remember what motivated me to try this in the first place, as it seems insane, but maybe that’s it). I think I need to say goodbye to the past before I can embrace the future. Or maybe I wrap up these shows in a tight bow and then leave it all behind. It's a journey for me to discover if these shows were any good and I was underrated or if everyone pretty much got it right and I was just sort of OK all along. Which is all right by me. Punk's Not Dead is the only thing I've gone back to that I think deserved more attention than it got. By the middle of September I will know what it’s about. And I am genuinely thrilled to be doing these shows again, whether to small audiences or big, both have their positives.
My daughter was very chatty this evening just before bed, obviously just talking a load of gobbledygook which effectively satirises the conversations of the adults she hears going on around her. But she did seem to be repeating the word “da da” over and over again. Perhaps she doesn’t know what it means or perhaps she is a fan of avant grade art, but it’s lovely to hear her say it, even if she doesn’t understand what she’s saying. It’s enough fun just having a nonsense conversation with her, so am really looking forward to the real thing. She seems to have forgiven me for banging her face against the bath, or has just forgotten about it. If I bump her head again then the amnesia will lift, so I’d better be very careful. Or maybe she’s just getting ready to dob me into the authorities. Who hurt you Phoebe? Da da da da da da da.
And the audio version of a rather extraordinary RHLSTP with Johnny Vegas is finally up on the British Comedy Guide and iTunes. Tell your friends. Or keep all this secret. It will make the documentary better.