Brighton. So near and yet so far. Especially on a Friday afternoon. It has never been easy driving to this town from West London and I can't take the train as I have too much stuff to transport, so even though my gig was at 9.30pm I set off at 3pm in the hope that I would avoid the rush hour.
I did not avoid the rush hour.
Or at least I got so snarled up in traffic that by six o clock I was still 30 miles away from my goal. And though I had felt like having a little sleep when I was crawling along the M25 it wasn't too horrendous. It's just remarkable that it's so impossible to get to this place that seems so close. I could practically have got to Manchester in the time this was taking!
I have done the Brighton comedy festival a few times. Having gradually worked my way up from the studio space to a decent sized venue over the first three years they suddenly stopped booking me. Then when they added me back to the roster last year I was back in the small venue. It seems a shame as I have a sizeable following in Brighton (or at least a bigger following than the 230 that this room holds), but hopefully I will be bumped up to a bigger room next time (if there is a next time).
I had a very good time with this crowd though. It was late on a Friday and there was a risk that a long-winded assessment of Hamlet's soliloquy might not be the best thing for an audience who might have had a few drinks. But luckily this smart crowd were up for it (the drinking only meant that a few of them needed the loo during the 65 minute set). I had to drop a few bits to bring the show in on time, though risked upsetting a few bladders by risking one more routine than I'd done in Edinburgh.
I knew the drive home wouldn't be as epic, but was keen to get going as we have an early flight in the morning (I am taking my wife to Vienna for her birthday - we like to celebrate in ice cream based places so it was Venice - home of the Cornetto- for our honeymoon and this weekend we are planning to eat our weight in Vienetta, whilst singing. "This means nothing to me", we are funny). But I got waylaid by Richard Vranch who was just about to get aboard a tour bus that was parked in front of my car. Unbelievably the Paul Merton Impro Chums have a rock star bus that they travel round the country in. What a fabulous and wonderful idea. Richard showed me round: they have beds, an area with tables and a lounge at the back, plus a fridge full of booze, shelves of snacks and a loo. Apparenly they'd previously had one used by Tom Jones where the lounge area at the back could be turned into a massive leather bed. I wouldn't have felt very comfortable sitting in there knowing what had probably gone on in there beforehand.
I was pretty jealous and after my driving experience of earlier did say how lovely it would be to have something like this and how I was missing having a tour manager to drive. Paul Merton suggested I hire one, then drive it myself, perhaps leaving it on cruise control on the motorways so I could pop back and sit at the back. It would be terrific to have the camaraderie of a team of fellow performers on tour, let alone the bus to relax in. And of course that would save on hotels. But there's a quiet tragic dignity to driving around alone, doing your bit and then fucking off again. I am going to have a tour manager for some of the tougher bits of the upcoming tour. Details are here (though just had a date added at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool on 20th February and will be doing the Kings Theatre, Cheddar on 27th Feb).
We made a trailer for the mysterious new project Meaning of Life. It's a new internet only stand up show about all the big subjects. In the first one I will be interviewing Marcus Chown about the creation of the Universe and doing stand up about where we all came from. It will (hopefully) be all new material. For now I am just trying to persuade you to buy tickets to the recording - only £10, get them here - but I will let you know how you can download/support this project when we've got a better idea ourselves! This one is going to take a lot of time and money to create so we can't give it out for free (unless someone wants to sponsor the project), but I might put the full interview out as a free audio podcast for those of you who resent giving me money.