Into London this afternoon to perform 20 minutes of stand up at a conference for people who work in insurance.
I don't do too many corporate gigs (though today was my second in a month) and would happily do a few more, but I wouldn't like to do loads more. They're usually a bit tough because you're playing to an audience who might not even be expecting comedy, who will have wildly varying views about what constitutes comedy and are often a bit drunk.
This time, at least, it was 5.15pm and everyone was sober, but the large hall was half empty and it had been a long day and I wasn't entirely sure this crowd would be up for 20 minutes about my testicles. But in the call I'd had with the organisers last week I offered to write a set about insurance and said they wouldn't want to hear about cancer, but they seemed to think that would be a good idea. And I thought there would be a little bit of crossover. It did allow me to joke that 3 years ago I'd had testicular cancer, doing my usual joke of "don't worry, I survived" with the additional topper of "You didn't have to pay out." I could also talk about the guy who emailed me to say he'd had his mortgage paid out when he got testicular cancer because he'd had that as part of his deal - even though testicular cancer was unlikely to kill him, the policy paid out . "You keep that quiet, don't you?" I told the delegates. I had checked my policy, but I had no such clause but the other day I met a lady who had had cancer and listened to my Ball Back podcast and checked up with her mortgage advisor and had indeed got her mortgage paid off. It had obviously made her life much easier at a very difficult time and it's so lovely that my stupid attempts at comedy have helped someone in that way. Be nicer if I'd had my mortgage paid off too, but I will content myself with having been lucky enough to have a less serious cancer and being able to cash in by doing jokes about it.
I wasn't really sure how any of this was going down. It wasn't getting nothing, but it wasn't getting much and people seemed a bit confused about why a man was talking so much bollocks. But I got some decent laughs and a bit of enjoyable pushback when I praised the NHS before adding that some of the people in the room were trying to destroy it and asked if during Covid, they stood on their doorsteps booing. You have to take the piss a bit at these things, but it's a delicate balancing act. It wasn't the best gig in my life, even if I was on what would amount to a phenomenal hourly rate, though as I pointed out I did need to earn some money back after the excess I have to pay on my car insurance for being a comedy. As David Baddiel questions that policy "Do you think I'm going to drive in a funny way?"
No idea if it was a triumph or a disaster, but probably landed somewhere between those two parameters. I am like Marmite - people either love me or hate me or are ambivalent about me or don't know anything about me or have an opinion somewhere on a sliding scale. Sorry, don't know why I specified Marmite. I am like anything.
I am doing some early radio interviews in the morning, so rather than get home at 8pm once the kids were in bed and leave the house at 5.30am before they are awake I decided to stay in a hotel tonight. I wanted central, but cheap, so selected a Z hotel on the Strand which promised a room without a window that was very small, but still had a bed, a toilet and a shower (it was still £160 as well but that was about half the price of anywhere else). I actually really liked this, for the solo traveller who just needs to sleep, it's perfect. I am not sure I'd like to share it with someone else, not least because the toilet is as close to being in the room as is possible without travelling to Swansea. But it was everything I needed - a good size bed with a TV on the wall at the end, a tiny desk, a metre square of floor space. I worried it would be too noisy, but the people (or maybe solo person) having quite vigorous sex nearby were polite or un turned on enough to not make any noise beyond the motions of their body and after they (plural or singular) had noiselessly completed there wasn't too much external noise.
The only downside was that I banged my shins on the shower cubicle when I got out of bed. I wouldn't mind staying at hotels like this on tour though. Absolutely adequate for my needs.
As I was on the Strand and had an evening to kill I also bought a ticket to see Six, a musical about the wives of King Henry VIII reimagined as the Spice Girls (a bit reminiscent of the even more brilliant Girls 5 Eva) which someone had recommended and it was fun and more importantly nice and short (a running time of about 70 minutes). Twenty years ago the idea of a night alone (either out or in) would have filled me with dread and depression, but I am now very happy with my own company. It felt quite decadent to have a night on the town alone and I was less than 3 minutes from my bed room (literally basically a room that was a bed).
I should have gone and had a nice dinner somewhere rather than picking up a Pret baguette, but apart from that it was a good night out, paid for (out of my earnings) by some insurance people who had heard more about testicles than they were expecting. I did ask them if they got free insurance from their job but they didn't. So what's the point of doing it?