Sunday, 4 September 2011
I've made a huge mistake
In a moment of drunken fury and at-least-five-years-out-of-date Dave Gorman-esque whimsy, I have accepted a challenge.
To become a stand-up comedian. A successful one. In 12 months.
It’s this man’s fault - look at him. Look at his face. Study it. Look at his red leather chair. Study that. Where did that come from? Props cupboard probably. Forget about the chair, stop obsessing about the chair. It’s the man on it that’s important and that man is popular telly gigglemonger Dan Clark, best known for his successful BBC sitcom How Not To Live Your Life.
For almost utterly spurious reasons, I have always used Mr Clark and his show as a yardstick for shit TV comedy. Now, it’s pretty low-rent stuff but it’s by no means the highest teetering pile of dogshit in Shitville (that honour goes to Susan Nickson’s beyond deplorable Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps dynasty) but my distaste for it has resulted in an unhealthy fixation with Dan Clark.
Clark is, in all honesty, pretty inoffensive and has never done anything to me. However, I am not the kind of man to let that get in the way of my pre-packed opinion of anyone. In my head he had become a symbol of the very worst kind of cynical, sterile, bottom-feeding comedy. The kind of comedy consumed by the worst kind of people. The kind of people who would include James Corden on their fantasy dinner party invite list (even if you’re allowed dead people - I know!).
And then, to top off my unreasonable and unquenchable Clark-fury, I saw that he was doing a short run of stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Festival this year.
I was INCANDESCENT (with rage). Oh, sure, I don’t give a toss if some crappy, lowest common denominator sitcom (the BBC‘s signature dish) is successful. Sitcoms, schmitcoms. But stand-up comedy is sacred. It‘s better, purer. ‘Dan Clark’, reasoned I in a calm and rational and emotionally mature manner, ‘should not be ALLOWED to do stand-up comedy.’
I muttered and chuntered (and occasionally defaced posters-ed) my way around Edinburgh, telling anyone who was interested (mainly flyerers and the Japanese) that Dan Clark was probably the antichrist or something and that his best joke would be about finding out that you could wash towels now he’s moved in with this girlfriend. Through a friend of a friend, Dan heard about my displeasure at his show. A text message was waved in front of my face.
‘Tell your friend Chris to actually see my show before he tells everyone it’s shit’. Ah. Ah hah. Now. This, Dan, is wrong on two counts. One, I reserve the right to slag anything off without having seen/read/heard/heard of it. I haven’t, for instance, seen The Inbetweeners Movie and I can tell you right now it’s utter bollocks. And, Two, by the time you sent that text, your show had finished. Hah! So, I win, right?
One evening last week, I was drunkenly boring the ears off of my friend Gareth on the subject of Dan Clark. Gareth was unhelpful and just muttered some frankly ridiculous things like ‘that’s a bit harsh’, and ‘you can’t just say things like that’ and ‘that’s just not true, or physically possible’.
Clark, he argued cowardly, is an extremely successful comedy writer. He should be given some credit, he continued BORINGLY, for easily selling out three nights in a 320 seat venue. He also gathered some very good reviews, talked Gareth with his lying mouth, which is extremely impressive since this is his first ever attempt at stand-up.
‘But he’s rubbish’ I spouted with utter conviction despite a total lack of evidence, ‘and even I’M funnier than him.’
But, said the increasingly belligerent Gareth, at least he’s doing it. He’s up there, putting himself onstage, giving it a go. You’re not. You couldn’t sell out three nights at the Edinburgh Festival.
No you couldn’t.
‘But I could.’
Well. Then. Do it.
Gareth should know better. It’s basically bear baiting.
So, here it is then. I have 12 months until the end of next year’s Festival, by which point I will have had to sell out three nights of stand-up comedy in Edinburgh. In any venue. By hook or by crook. I am frightened. Someone hold me.
There you have it folks. So far, so very Danny Wallace. The only difference being that I don’t have a book deal. Oh, and I’m also not very funny when I do talking. And I hate talking in front of groups of people. And I get stage fright at the Post Office.
But I’ll still be better than John Bishop.
This blog will chronicle my attempts to learn the art of stand up comedy - expect loud gutteral sobs and a lot of swearing. I wrote another blog once, in which I attempted to find love in 6 months, something promised to me by a well known online dating site. If you have read that then you will be well-used to the sound of my deafening, flapping failure. Expect it to be louder this time. And flappier.
So, I need to write some comedy, secure some gigs and work out how to be a stand-up comedian. Quite soon. I will also accept the first gig I am offered, even if that is tomorrow and I haven’t written any material. I do this for YOU.
But first. What the heck is this stand up comedy lark about? I know so little about it, I don't even know whether to hyphenate the words or not. Stand up? Stand-up? Standup? Fear not, I’ve been doing some bloody research, haven‘t I? I’M LIKE THE COOK REPORT. BUT NOT AS FUNNY.
Can the great and good of the world of comedy assist a fledgling like me, as I ponder penning my first funnies? Mel Brooks, he was funny, he did funny stuff. Ha ha. He says that ‘tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die’. Well, I can’t exactly do that on stage, fucking thanks, Mel. Charlie Chaplin is equally unrealistic - ‘All you need to make comedy is a park, a pretty girl and a policeman’. That’s how you make a skin flick, Chuck, but cheers anyway.
‘Funny’man and famed manic depressive Robin Williams believes that comedy is ‘acting out optimism’, which explains Patch Adams. John Cleese reckons comedy should be mean-spirited (I think I can do that), Moliere saw it as a tool for correcting vice in others (I think I can do that), whereas V. S. Naipaul feels that comedy comes from ‘deep hysteria’ (I can definitely do that). But then Naipaul also thinks that women are made from MDF, so who knows what to think.
In ocean of comedic advice, I’ll leave the last word to Roy Chubby Brown - ‘I can fart into the mic and people will love it’. Ah.
In next week’s blog I’ll be talking (talking? No, writing. Can I say talking though? I can, I WILL) talking about advice given to new stand-ups and securing your first gigs.
Anyone know any jokes?