Monday, 19 September 2011

Staring down the barrel of a fucking idiot


And so it begins.

I write this on Monday evening. By Friday I will have performed my first five minutes of stand up comedy.

How can I describe the terror I’m feeling?

You know that feeling when you suddenly realise that not only have you agreed to perform stand up comedy for the next 12 months, despite having the stage presence and sense of humour of Lib Dem gerbil Sarah Teather, but also that you literally are about to perform your first stand up set within the next 48 hours despite not having written enough material or even practised the little you have actually written and that you have no idea how you’re going open your set or how you’re going to say any of the words not that you’ll actually REMEMBER the words and sweet shitting Jesus Christ what the hell are you doing and you’re just hugely aware that it’s going to be the worst and longest five minutes of your short and uninteresting life and you want to die? That feeling?

Well.

That.

Despite the terror, despite the disturbing and irresponsible lack of material, I am going to be attending comedy gigs all this week, each of which have several ‘open mic’ spots for any chump who turns up. Some require you to pay, some demand you bring friends, others will ask you to flyer for their event in return for a spot. None of them guarantee you a go but with any luck (wrrrrrrrheeelllpppmeeeee) I’ll get on this week. Failing that, I’ll get to know what kind of gigs these mirth/meat markets are.

People keep telling me I need to get onstage as quickly as possible, that it’s like ‘ripping off a plaster’. Like ripping off a plaster, a plaster that is attached my heart and lungs, then ripping off all my hair and clothes and then standing in the window of the flagship Topshop on Oxford Circus on a Saturday afternoon with my sweat-smeared scrotum pressed against the glass for passers-by to point at and then crying and then crying and then crying and then crying.

Anyway. As well as deciding on (or, writing) my material over the next couple of days, I also need to decide what kind of comedian I am going to be.

Using strictly controlled double-blind testing, I have come with the following, scientifically nut-tight list.

1) Ranty/Angry
You know the ones. They’re so ANGRY. About EVERYTHING. Even little things. Hell, ESPECIALLY little things. They shout. And it’s funny cos they’re soooooooo cross. Life is a constant chore, and everything is against them. This is very tempting for me as a) I am not the cheeriest. And b) it’s relatively easy to do/easy to fall into.

Firstly, it’s perfect for structure (‘Here’s a few things that piss me off….. And ANOTHER thing that winds me up’) and easy-ish to get laughs. You can be genuine angry (‘what the hell is it with Nick Clegg!?’) or faux angry (‘what the hell is it with croutons?!’). But you can stomp off all that nervous energy and, if the material falls flat, compensate by flapping your arms about and becoming angrier.

Reasons I might do it - easy fall-back; I’m grumpy most of the time anyway; shouting is fun and my therapist said I should let off some steam.

Reasons I might not - can be a comedic turn-off for audiences; could be a substitute for actual jokes; can be a sexual turn-off for audiences.

2) Observational
Those little curious squirrels of life. They’re always noticing things. And they’re so curious about these things. And the thing about these things is that you’ve noticed these things too it’s just you’ve never noticed that you’ve noticed them until Mr Funny comes along and says ‘have you ever noticed…?’ and you hoot ‘YES! Yes I have!’ You have, haven’t you? AHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA.

AHAHAHAHAAHAAAAAAAA.

AHAHAHAAHAAAAA. AHAHAHAHAHAHA. AHAHAHAHAAAAAAA. HHHHHHAAHHAHAAAA. HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA. HHAHAHAAAAAAA. HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAA. AHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA. HAH. HA. HA. AHA. Ha.

Reasons I might do it - easy for most audiences to relate to; a whole world/life of material.

Reasons I might not - haven’t really noticed anything.

3) High energy/octane
Ooh! They’re a bundle of nerves, talking at 100mph, jumping about, firing off ideas and thoughts at breakneck speed. They sweat. They pant. Their eyes bulge like two pickled onions trying to fight their way out of a bowling ball. They are irritating cocks, generally.

Reasons I might do it - nerves may make this an unavoidable default option; fun to watch onstage; audience can at least admire your stamina if not your jokes.

Reasons I might not - may render me incomprehensible; may forget where I am; may start crying.

4) Controversial
OH NO HE DIDN’T! Ooh, yeah, they’re the guy or gal who ‘goes there’. Previously very popular with male stand ups (‘rape!’ ho ho), controversialism seems to be the current trend of new-ish female comics (‘rape!’ ho ho).

Obviously, if you’re not funny then this can lead to trouble. If the material falls flat you’re more likely to be greeted with a series of grimace-y ‘oohs’ and slow head-shakes, than a series of he-went-there! shrieks.

Of course, if you’re dead clever and that, you can always peddle the popular ironic-controversial material (‘rape! Only kidding!’ ho ho).

Reasons I might do it - might make me look cutting edge and clever; an element of danger; rape! (ho ho)

Reasons I might not - Frankie Boyle; every other new comedian.

5) Surreal
Oohhh! Ooorrr, errrr, woo, jam and dogs and that. And little talking monkeys driving U-boats in a sea of custard. How did he even thank of that!?

Cripes, this dude’s mad. And he’s treating us to a little safari through his krayzee imadgernayshun. He’s probably bi-polar. But bi-polar in a fun way. I knew a girl like that once. I mean, most girls cry after sex with me, but with her I could pretend it was something else. (see 4)

Reasons I might do it - you can let your imagination run wild; people will think you’re fun and/or bi-polar.

Reasons I might not - don't want to; that's it really.

6) Downbeat/depressed
For this Sad Sack, life is rubbish. Everything is shit. He doesn’t even want you laughing at his jokes. Your laughter, in fact, is just making it worse. And, for some reason, that makes you laugh more. This morose, glass-half-full-but-half-full-of-shit chap is miserable but lovable. The comedy equivalent of an ‘I woke up this morning’ blues standard.

Reasons I might do it - a downbeat personality would help measure and control material; I could pretend not to care about the lack of laughter; instead of material I could just sum up any random day from the last eight years of my life.

Reasons I might not - too close to home.

7) Shit
Whether through lack of experience, nerves or a genuine dearth of comic timing and not-utter-shit material, this hapless comic is a car crash. The only thing worse than watching this poor fool is being him. This is the kind of comedian that even runs out of sympathy laughs, almost as quickly as he runs out of jokes and confidence.

If this comedian was a character in a John Steinbeck novel, he’d voluntarily walk down to the Salinas river, convince himself to think of rabbits and alfalfa, and shoot his own poor, dumb brains out.

Reasons I might do this - ah, who am I kidding? Pass me the shotgun.


Wish me luck.

See you on the other side.

1 comment:

  1. I vote for option number 1 or 2..all others are annoying!

    ReplyDelete