Thursday, 31 December 2015

GSOH: Year Goggles

It's strange what a difference 365 days can make. Somehow I ended up running and hosting two comedy nights; performing at the Edinburgh Festival and getting my own 12-part television series. That's not supposed to happen to an open spot comedian in the space of a year.

My terrible Chris Tarrant impersonation on The A-Z Of Tiswas
Okay, let's rewind a bit. I was someone who did stand-up comedy very occasionally. At this point in 2014, it had been almost two years since I last stepped behind a mic to tell jokes.

Oh, and another thing - GSOH - this new strand of my blog that deals with my comedy work, is meant to be entirely honest about my tragedies as well as my triumphs. After all, a detailed review of a comic failing, can, perversely, end up making the reader smile. Nobody ever chuckled at someone showing off their 52-bedroom gold-plated  mansion, so I'll try to keep it light on any anecdotes of having "smashed it last night".

Three point turn

A lot of my professional life is spent in marketing, stating the good features of products and grabbing the reader with concise points to win them over.I think this is described by the layman as "making something sound more interesting and exciting than it actually is", and I'm guilty of doing just in the opening paragraph.

Let's just go over those three aren't-I-great points at the top of the blog entry with a bit of detail and reason.
  • Running and hosting two comedy nights. Absolutely true, I've got two monthly comedy nights in the east midlands, though there are people much younger than me doing a heck of a lot more.
  • Performing at the Edinburgh Festival. This happened this year, but unlike most comedians, I didn't book a few weeks, or even a single week. In fact, I didn't book a single venue for myself and spent only one night there. I performed my ten-minute set twice on the same night, on 'showcase' gigs, where a resident comedian introduces a bill of acts. Yes, my approach to Edinburgh is very much toe-dipping. Comics can spend up to five grand on rent, food and venue costs, ending up playing to three people and a dog most nights.
  • My own 12-part television series. Okay, this is largely based on material from Tiswas - the cult 70s-80s Saturday morning kids' show. I put together clips from Tiswas footage to a couple of theme that fits the 'A-Z' format. I get to voice it over with my own script. I've even put together fresh graphics and animation, plus it's my choice of music to illustrate certain scenes. And yes, I've taken turns in being front of camera, just for a silly link here and there, nothing that last more than 10 seconds. The resulting programme - The A-Z Of Tiswas - was a five-minute segment that aired weekly as part of a TV station's magazine-style round-up. The channel is one of those Jeremy-Hunt-instigated 'local TV' outposts. You can't pick it up if you're outside Birmingham or the Black Country, but it is viewable online. I suspect the viewing audience was minuscule.
So there you go, I am still an open spot act, albeit with some lucky breaks. The two comedy nights give me adequate pay, not exactly beer money but not enough to quit the day job. There are people more talented than I, who aren't doing as well. And plenty doing better.

2015 has been a blast, travelling hundreds of miles around the UK just to shout obscenities about the Prime Minister into a microphone. I've made a lot of great friends, had some superb gigs and a handful of duff ones. I'll be going into detail on these things as this blog continues...

1: Before you think I'm a complete bastard for being part of the advertising brigade, consider that the audience in that role is almost exclusively IT-focused. There's no point in trying to lie to technology experts, you'll get found out. I dare say it's probably the only part of the marketing industry where there's honesty. Plus, I'm a really shit liar, so it suits me as a day job.

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