You’re only as good as your last gig…

1 Comment

Well, the course is now at an end so it seems like a good idea to think about how useful I’ve found it. At the start of the course I didn’t really know what to expect – I’d heard about it via Jon Bounds and signed up before I had chance to convince myself to back out. It felt quite a scary thing to attempt, but something which would hopefully bring a lot of personal achievement for me.

I’ve written here before that my ambitions for the course didn’t really lie in wanting to become a stand-up comedian – it was more about trying to improve my self-confidence, trying to encourage myself to write more regularly, trying to get some experience of performing and speaking in public, and to a certain extent having a go at something which I write about, since I review comedy gigs and thought maybe it was time I saw what it felt like on the other side of the fence.

I think the most useful parts of the course for me were the exercises and games we did in class, which really helped to lessen some of the inhibitions I feel when faced with having to speak or perform in front of people, especially when it involves doing something a bit silly. To do well on the course I think you need to have an open mind, and be prepared to work hard and practice regularly. But being willing to put yourself in silly situations and not let it faze you is definitely important.

The other thing which has been very important, for me personally, has been the support, feedback and real sense of camaraderie from the other people on the course. This has been vital, and I think everyone genuinely wanted each other to succeed. Everyone was also very kind, especially with their positive feedback and constructive comments. I should also point out that maybe my joke which was most well-received (the Coventry/Primark gag at the top of the set) was originally cut from my act but reinstated due to popular demand, so clearly they know what’s funny.

Also, James Cook has been a very approachable and helpful tutor, both in class and also via email when I’ve wanted his opinion on material I’ve been working on. Reading his feedback on my performance at Saturday’s showcase was pleasing and validated what I’d been trying to achieve (I’m taking the Andy Zaltzman comparison as a compliment because that’s exactly the kind of thing I was going for and I’m a fan). I’m also glad that I was able to put a physical element and some exaggerated actions into the set, as a direct result of how we’d explored in class that bigger performances get bigger reactions, because they’re funnier – if that final part of the set had come earlier, I think I would’ve tried to introduce more of that physicality, and that’s certainly something that could be built up if I decided to do this again. Here’s an alternate recording of my set, made by James.

I think I also had a more developed appreciation of the finer details of performing stand-up – the bit in my set where I fall to my knees was rigorously rehearsed and done in such a way so that I bent into the fall and used my wallet – concealed in my back pocket – to slow down the pace of impact when my knees came into contact with the stage. If a future as a stunt man isn’t quite on the cards, it nevertheless gave me an insight into the kind of attention to detail which professionals will show in every tiny element of their set, doing whatever they can to get laughs and figuring out the best way to be able to achieve that practically.

I don’t think I’ve got into the habit of writing as regularly as I would’ve liked, simply because there were periods of intense creativity and bouts of doing nothing. I need to somehow find a balance so that I’m writing more often. However, I did get into the habit of carrying notebooks around with me and jotting down any kernels of ideas ready for further exploration, and there are quite a few jokes and ideas which have gone as yet unused or unexplored, simply because they didn’t really fit into that particular set. I think I’d be interested in performing stand-up again if I had some ideas and material which lent itself to stand-up rather than another format, but there are other writing projects which I want to try out first – a monologue, I’d like to have a go at writing comic fiction, scripts (across different types of media), possibly a play, and also some children’s fiction; not to mention trying to get Who’s Laughing Now revamped. And I think this course has taught me to think carefully about the best medium for your idea, and how you can make the idea fit that medium as well as how to tailor it to your audience.

The next stand-up comedy course at MAC runs from May through to July, again led by James Cook. For anyone who thinks they’d like to have a go, or just want to try something new, I’d recommend it because it’s been a really fulfilling and enjoyable experience for me. It’s hard work, but great fun too.


A cheery (festive) wave from stranded youngsters

Leave a comment

Well, that didn’t go very well did it. Despite best intentions this blog has been left to fester once more. However! I have just signed up to the MAC’s stand-up comedy course, which starts in January. It’s compered by the rather fine James Cook and should be fun – I first heard about it from Jon Bounds, who has blogged about his experience of the course.

When I found out there was another course coming up I decided to book a place… even though it’s something I thought I’d never do. As someone who loves and writes about comedy, I go to a lot of stand-up shows and review them but have never had a go myself. So I guess now it’s time to step outside of my comfort zone and take up position somewhere on the other side of the fence. Or should that be trench?

This is a bit of an experiment, which I aim to blog about during the twelve weeks of the course. I have no pretensions to be a stand-up comedian but 1) this is more of a confidence building exercise (although it could all end in tears – both mine and the audience’s) and 2) the idea is that it will force me to write more.

My interests lie more in moving into writing comic prose/fiction and scripts, so hopefully this course will help feed into other forms of writing, away from journalism.

Anyway, hopefully this blog will be updated with how I’m getting on and might prove useful for gathering together ideas, or just logging how well/badly things are going.

Util then, Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011. And wish me luck!

Hello, good evening and welcome…part deux

Leave a comment

If you’ve stumbled across this blog and have no idea who I am (and trust me, the About section won’t fill in many of the blanks) – it’s essentially a respository for thoughts and creative outpourings.

If you do know me then you may recognise the blog name or have it bookmarked…I’m not above a little recycling so you might remember its previous incarnation as a place for me to ruminate about all things entrepreneurial back in the days of studying for an MA. I was terrible at updating it. I’ve given it a bit of a makeover and am going to make a fresh start with it, so will try harder this time but I won’t hold my breath.

As a man who advertised washing powder door-to-door once said, keep watching the skies…