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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Comedy Competitions - Serious Fun or Self Harm

(N.B.This article was written before I plunged into blog world for gigglebeats – the N.E. online comedy review website)

Competitions are a grim business. Comedy competitions can be hell. They are not compulsory. Why put yourself through the mangle? Well – if you’re me – there are worse things to do with your mid life crisis (possibly). They are expensive and time consuming if you live outside London – and some people do! They are emotionally draining. In the last eighteen months I’ve done three nationals. The first was a New Act of the Year set up. I blagged my way into it, got a big positive reaction and decided to do it again if I got the chance. My heat at Theatre Royal Stratford, London was just three weeks after my first proper stand-up comedy set. Prior to that I’d been gigging for fifteen months in a jumble of venues from exclusively performance poetry slots to variety nights, festivals, fill-ins for band nights, fundraisers and after-dinner entertainment plus one or two other things I’d rather forget. One reason for turning to competitions was its not easy getting comedy clubs to take a punt on what I do. They heard the ‘p’ word and switched off or reacted as if I’d said I ate babies for breakfast.

Unable to shake the notion that customers might like their evening of genital gags punctuated with a bit of sketch-style, character-based comedy poetry, I entered two more national comps this year. The upshot? Quarter-finals (Laughing Horse) and finalist status (Funny’s Funny) with a Leicester Square gig sharing a platform with the fab Andi Oshi. Being a finalist also brings the offer of PROPER INDOORS gigs at 2012 Edinburgh Fringe. My first Ed Fest experience, 2010, was in the pissing rain gigging outside St Giles Cathedral with 12 soggy punters enduring. 2011 was performances in a café stairwell while blokes delivered crates of beer round me (at least it was dry) - so this is a result or sorts however bizarre the journey.

The most gushing enthusiasts for what I do are the younger members of the audience which is problematic. Older ones are complimentary in a verbal pat-on-the-back kind of way but the young ‘uns want to ‘follow you on twitter’ (I don’t tweet, sorry) or ‘read your blog’ (er… I don’t blog) or ‘get your website’ (I don’t have one, I’m really sorry) or ‘face-book you’ I don’t have a facebook page… OK – you get the pattern that is emerging here. It’s tempting to freak them out by admitting I don’t have internet access at home, I don’t have TV, and I use a carrier pigeon of a mobile. But I don’t’ want to be cruel to the youngsters or shock them. I do realise that, below a certain generation, only being present in the real world is death. I briefly had a website last year but couldn’t organise updating. The plan is to get a basic one soon just so the bairns can see that I actually exist in cyber space and am therefore real.

A mate of mine put one of my pieces Shirley Temple Jesus on u-tube a while back but it’s not a comedy gig and I’m not ‘doing comedy’ however, it gives a flavour. For the little ones it’s a bit hopeless because most of them don’t know who Shirley Temple was, though some of them recognise the other name...

as a result of the Funny's funny comp I will be performing at Free Sisters the week of 13th August :)


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