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Wednesday 30th June 2010

How has half of this year already gone? Time is flying by just stupidly quickly. I hate you time. Slow down a bit and give us a chance to sit back in our high-backed arm-chairs and watch the women dance.
I hardly have time to clean my semi circular toilet mat.
AIOTM (AIOTM) seemed to catch up with me this evening as I headed down to Leicester Square for another preview in an underground bar. I knew i was headlining, but was surprised to find out when I got there that ex Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik was also on the bill. On Monday on AIOTM (AIOTM) I had been slagging him off for his arrogance on the Wright Stuff and advising listeners to punch him in the face and now I was going to be in the same, very small room with him.
It was unlikely that he had heard the show (though my guess is he regularly Googles himself so might see this - Hello Lembit) but I still felt a little awkward. I felt in quite a difficult position even so. Should I say hello and have a chat? I am not sure I would have done so if he was just a regular open spot and so it felt weird to go and say hello to this new comedian just because he had been in the papers and at least one Cheeky Girl. Plus I would have felt a bit hypocritical being friendly to his face, when I had been encouraging people to punch it just hours before.
Usually I would give at least an encouraging smile to a fellow act, though sometimes with a newer comedian there is the worry they might be a bit crazy or clingy or odd or just nervous or shy, so there is a tendency to keep one's distance, or remain in a world of your own (and with a preview to prepare for I had plenty to think of). But I also felt uneasy about Opik's motives. I am not sure he really wants to be a comedian. It all feels a bit like a publicity stunt and from what I have seen the aura of over confidence that he gives off puts me off him a bit. As it turned out the only real opportunity I got to engage with him was when I was coming out of the toilet and he was coming in. He gave a slightly stilted greeting and I responded but kept walking. I didn't want to end up talking to him in the loo. Maybe I would say hello after he'd been on stage.
It seems he is trying out new material at every gig he does, which probably isn't the best idea for a rookie comedian and given this was only his fourth or fifth time on stage he was doing OK. He didn't have many actual gags and seemed to easily distract himself, abandoning one subject that he hadn't really seemed to have made a joke about, in order to talk to someone in the crowd. It wasn't a very funny set and he maybe has an elevated idea of his own fame/self. "As you may or may not know, I have a Segway" he told us. I would be surprised if many people knew this. It seemed odd that he thought we might. But also might have been worth explaining what he meant by that, as I would think a lot of people wouldn't know and also they might have thought he was referring to his material, which was full of segways. The joke wasn't about his Segway anyway, so there was no need to mention it. It was about someone stopping him whilst he rode it and ended in a failed punchline about the person being Nick Clegg. It wasn't great. Most people would not be under such a spotlight in their fourth gig, though. Then again most people wouldn't be inviting the attention in the same way.
It was quite a tough audience - not that many people and they weren't massive laughers. I struggled a bit, I thought, to keep them engaged. It was my least successful preview yet. Opik has the confidence to keep talking and obviously people are interested enough in who he is to give him a chance. I'd prefer to see him talking more openly about his life as a politician, being in the public eye, dating micro-celebs. But he is still a politician and still spinning stuff (he talks apparently about having a residency in a West End comedy club, which without denigrating this rather lovely venue, makes it sound a lot grander than it is - he is doing weekly spots in a small bar near Leicester Square tube) and he has half an eye on his desire to stand for London Mayor, so he can't give us any truthful analysis of politics or his life (if he has the self-awareness to do so, which I am not sure he has). I don't think he will be doing comedy in six months, not because he wouldn't be good enough (he might be) but because I don't think he wants to be a comedian. I was glad I hadn't chatted to him. I would happily have given advice to anyone I felt was genuinely interested in the job, but I felt suspicious of this interloper.
Strange to bump into him so soon after I had joked about him, but the danger is that if you talk to and befriend the people you should be joking about that you lose your edge and don't feel right about saying what you think. I didn't comment on his act and he didn't comment on mine (though he was at the bar with his friends and I don't think he could see me anyway) and we departed without conversing, beyond our awkward exchange in the toilets. This is how it should be. I am suspicious of the comedians who seem to want to get famous so they can become friends with celebrities (not that Opik really counts as that) and feel that having rock star and TV star friends somehow vindicates their existence. Comedians must dwell on the fringes of society, hating everyone, most especially themselves.
I am doing well in this regard.

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