Comedy On Prescription
People tell me I’m delusional – I can’t see it myself. Let me explain.
My name’s Ged and a long time ago (May 2015) in a land far away (Widnes to be precise), I signed up to a course which had a very serious purpose. Teaching the basics of stand-up comedy and making people laugh. The wise, semi-scatological sage overseeing this boot camp of the foolish was Sam Avery – he of a toffee based allegiance. He took a group of us on a journey of self-discovery which involved laughter, unexpected silences and the revelation that it was indeed possible to make other people laugh.
Personally, I can think of nothing scarier than two things. Getting all Zen with spiders (especially the big hairy goat-eating mothers) or standing on a stage and attempting to produce laughter for the pleasure of other human beings. The fact that I saw it through to the bitter end is something that gave me an immense fillip and sense of achievement. Why? Because it gave my ego a boost and gave me a very straightforward way of improving my self-confidence. If I could survive the seemingly un-survivable terror of attempting stand-up and want to do it again, then that could only mean one of two things. Either I was delusional or those people who laughed at me were equally so.
Which is where I came in.
As a 50 year old, writing begging letters to comedy venues and suffering the crushing disappointment of not quite “beating the gong” at various glory-holes of amusement, I am under no illusions as to why I am doing it. It is not for money or fame (stop laughing!). Quite simply, I will do it until I stop being scared of it. That for me will be a measure of my regaining some self-confidence – a quality I have been estranged from for some time.
I popped my comedic cherry at The Comedy Store in Manchester, which on the night, was also doubling up as a Wild West saloon re-enactment location. To say that I was nervous would be to devalue the potency of that word. Truthfully, I was less nervous when I once had to undergo a life-saving tracheotomy performed on me without any initial anaesthetic. I don’t remember, on that occasion, gripping a microphone that was shaking so violently that it kept hitting my chin and subjecting the 200+ audience to a series of pops and whines.
But before I could return to my still warm seat, something very special happened. People laughed. Big. Several times. This was such a shock that it halted me in my tracks for an eternity (of about 3 seconds) ensuring that hoped for glories would have to remain for another day. But, I am getting better and, I hope, less nervous. I think that everybody believes on some level, that they know the way to a comedic Promised Land. Convincing other people to share in that delusion is another thing entirely.
The Comedy Trust (and Sam Avery in particular) have given me a little map, compass and instruction to “go forth and discover for myself”. So thanks for that Sam.
I believe it was John Donne who said “No man is an island”. Well he obviously had never been to the TT Races. Right, how long was that? 4.59 mins? Oh B******s!