4044 (only 400 entries until 4444 - very excited about that)
It was my final Nine Lessons and Carols For Godless People tonight. I've enjoyed playing this gig over the last few Christmases and it's sad to see it go (there are two more shows over the weekend, though they're sold out I believe and I am not in them). I can understand Robin Ince's desire to move on, as it's more interesting to try out something different rather than going over the same ground. Like him I prefer to leave things before they start to feel stale and whilst they're still hopefully firing on all cylinders. Having said that I will miss having the opportunity to play to such smart and polite audiences in the week before Christmas, as well as to hang out with the other acts eating chocolates and drinking wine. This is pretty much the only gig I do now that I will allow myself a drink beforehand. My set is only seven minutes long and it seems appropriate to be a little bit merry and it's unlikely that I am going to be severely heckled and so don't need to be quite as on the ball as I would at some gigs. But it's still a weird feeling to have lost that slight edge and be a little bit out of control. I am only talking about having a glass or two of wine (though also had a beer tonight) and I think many people think that a small amount of booze would loosen you up and eradicate the nerves, but, for me at least, comedy and alcohol is a dangerous mix. Tonight I felt that my timing was very slightly off and there were a couple of weird stumbles and mispronunciations. These might have happened if I was stone cold sober, but with my brain slightly addled little cracks like this can make you think the whole thing is going to fall apart.
I've done gigs where I am properly pissed and as long as that's the point and everyone is in on the joke that is funny in its own way. But whilst comedy is all about losing control, it's perhaps a controlled lack of control and drinking is not always the right way to go. Even if you do come up with a fantastic adlib due to your crapulousness the chances are that you will forget it.
I had a warm glow from the red wine tonight and I don't think my tipsiness would have been apparent. It wasn't my best ever gig at this event and didn't get as good a response as the same material had on Wednesday. But I still felt happy to have been a part of this and a little sad that I wouldn't be back in the green room next December chatting to some scientist or musician or comic.
Well done to Robin Ince though and good luck with whatever comes next. He's a fine example of a comedian who just gets on with stuff himself. Some comics sit back and bitterly complain that they can't get on due to some clique or prejudice or other impediment (none of them ever consider that it might be because they're no good- but that's not the comedian way), but in the modern world there is little excuse for this any more. You can produce your own podcast, film your own TV show, put on your own hour long set or showcase, publish your own book. The only barrier, if you're as good as you think you are, is your own laziness. Robin is a man who can never be called lazy and who is producing work for its own sake (this 9 Lessons gig would not really work in the same way on TV - though I think they did once film it) and on his own terms. He has got some radio work off the back of all of this, but he's still out constantly touring and putting together new shows. To be honest he works a bit too hard and should probably slow down a bit, but he should be an inspiration to others. You can do it if you want and if you aren't driven by the desire to be famous or rich or on TV. Though if you work hard you will probably eventually be all of those things. Or realise that none of them matter. It's not going to fall into your lap and it's going to require some work and some sacrifices on your part, but I don't think any wannabe comedian or creative person can really sit back now and blame others for their lack of success. For a few that has been a useful get out - I would be an amazing performer or writer, but no one has recognised my genius so what can I do? Nowadays you can't really say this any more. It might not be fair in terms of who goes on to be massive on TV and in the public consciousness (though again, this is such a difficult thing to achieve that it is very rare that the person involved doesn't deserve it on some level), but in this instance Robin has created something that will be loved and remembered by the people who've seen it and performed in it. And there's a gap left for someone else to do something just as exciting and experimental next year now!
Talking of creating your own high art, I recorded a frame of Christmas snooker with all the Mes down in my basement this afternoon. You can listen to it at the British Comedy Guide or subscribe on iTunes. We're 41 frames in and I've been doing this for over two years now. How long will it continue? Until I die motherfuckers. Think you've got the balls to join me? This is your cue to try.
Don't forget you can buy Me1 Vs Me2 (and RHLSTP) merch at cottoncart.com.
And here's this week's Metro column. Happy Christmas.