In answer to your question, it’s March 8th.
A long trip to Falmouth today to give a truncated performance of Lord of the Dance Settee (I could only do an hour rather than the full 90 minutes because I was on with two other acts) and to do a talk to students at the University about my fascinating career. I was being held up as a warning to the youngsters not to take the path that I had taken. They still had a chance to escape. Last time I did one of these events I ended up marrying the girlfriend and then impregnating of the man who had invited me (not during the actual lecture to be fair). Today’s organiser had sensibly made sure his partner was in Bedford. He was still taking a risk. I have a vendetta to take revenge on all University lecturers after having that fight with the one in Liverpool.
The long day was made a little more difficult by the fact that I had picked up a cold over the weekend. Our friends’ five-year-old had had a cough and had not quite mastered putting her hand over her face when she coughed (sweetly managing to do it only after her virus had been projected into the room). It isn’t too debilitating a disease, but it’s not the kind of thing you’d want to have if you were going to be talking for two hours. I suspect that this kind of thing is going to happen quite a lot when I have my own disease ridden child.
The folk at Falmouth University were very friendly and welcoming and I droned on about podcasting and how artistic vision was more important than money and the mixed blessings of being relatively unknown as a writer. I don’t know how interesting it was to the students, but I was very glad to have the opportunity to pass on my experience. Most of them were studying film and television, which in itself is something of a privilege. As I decried my own technical ineptitude the lecturer said that maybe I should come and do the film making course so I could learn to edit. And it made me wish that I had done something like that instead of history. As much as my University years were a solid grounding in acting and comedy, given I spent nearly all my time writing sketches and appearing in plays and very little time doing any academic work, it would have been more useful in the long run if I had studied television and film. I had had a hankering to go to drama school, though not sure I would ever have gone through with that, but my parents sensibly steered me towards academia. And I can’t blame them for that, as in the 1980s the idea of a boy from Somerset making it in show business would have seemed like a pipe dream. But I think I’ve known that this is what I wanted to do ever since I was 4 and dressed up as a clown and did puppet shows for my mum and grandma and then when I wrote about the Men of Phise and the Thriling Three.
Of course if I hadn’t gone to the University I did then I would not have met Stewart Lee or Emma Kennedy or any of the other people with whom I would shape our futures. But maybe I should learn how to do the technical side of filming and recording and editing, if only to save some money and make my future internet ideas more of a possibility.
I feel like the internet as a medium for comedy has probably come about ten years late for me to properly capitalise on it, but for the people I was talking to, still in their twenties and full of energy and ideas and hope, who knows what can be achieved?
Although it was unusual and maybe unnecessary for me to be doing my show on a bill with other comedians tonight, it was fun to see the other comics. Ray Peacock was in fine form both on and off stage, making me laugh heartily about his various health problems and his return to Fubar radio. He’s an excellent comedian and you should see him live if you get the chance. Urgh, I feel weird being nice about him. Pretend I never said that. He’s a prick.
Also I don’t think he had really realised where Falmouth was when he took the gig and had foolishly driven there and had to drive back straight after his set. I was glad to have taken the sensible, if time consuming, option of train and hotel.
Given the unusual nature of the gig and the fact that the audience weren’t necessarily going to be familiar with my work I decided to do a few old one-liners (or at least shorter jokes) at the top of the show. The last time I had done this was at Wakefield and weirdly exactly the same thing happened. As I did the “I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire” gag, someone shouted “Bollocks” referencing the youtube heckler clip. It’s weird that this has happened twice within the space of a month when I can’t remember it ever having happened before, so why now, some six or seven years after it was uploaded? It might be a funny thing to do if the clip was more well known, but of course to everyone else in the audience it just looks like someone is having a go and ends up derailing a joke just before the punchline and thus ruining it. And I am in the strange position of knowing that the person shouting “Bollocks” is undoubtedly a fan (as indeed he turned out to be when he inevitably turned up for an autograph at the end).
But it may be a sign that it's time to stop doing this old material (even to an audience that clearly have never heard it) and come up with something new. A few of my reliable old gags have been with me so long that the changing moral compass of my audience and the different life I now lead mean that they might not be quite appropriate. So maybe God is telling me to bin them, in His usual mysterious way - weird he's upset by these ones and not the religious gags though.
In Wakefield I had done a good job of turning it to my advantage, but tonight a bit tired and ill and grumpy it meant that the show started a little off kilter. But luckily it didn’t throw me too much and although I was feeling increasingly lousy and snotty as the hour went by, this crowd, who by nature of where they live have probably not seen a great deal of live comedy, seemed to stay with my esoteric and unusual routines. It was fun doing the International Women’s Day routine on International Man’s Day though I slightly derailed myself by saying “It’s today” and then forgetting how the rest of the bit was meant to go.
The audience were very nice afterwards and I was glad I had made the effort to come this far. It’s hard to justify on a financial level as I will end up travelling for two days to entertain just over 100 people. But as I increasingly realise it’s quality not quantity that matters and the West Country people are my people (even the strange breed of creature that lives this far south west).
The real question is when will there be an International Men’s Day that doesn’t coincide with World Toilet Day?
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