Week three in the Big Brother house of comedy, see what I did there, a bit of a twist on the introduction of the Big Brother introduction from channel four. From the good old days when reality TV shows were actually about entertainment and not about the glorification of fame through humiliation and sadly people ending their lives due to pressure caused by publicity. (oh , a little bit of politics there to quote Ben Elton!).
So, back to the actual plot which is my journey in learning how to be a stand up comedian, or indeed not , as will be revealed on Sunday July 7th when I tread the boards at the very well known and highly regarded Glee club in Birmingham. Embarking on this journey has been quite honestly fascinating, making people laugh has always been of interest to me. Going right back to my childhood I always wanted to try and make people laugh, and being the new boy at 7 different schools around the UK, which was what I was back in the day. Especially as the proud owner of what was then known as a funny name, made you especially vulnerable to potential bullying and the like.
My tactic back then was simple, keep a low profile, watch and observe and find out who you want to hang out with, and equally important, who you do not want to hang out with. Interestingly I have employed exactly the same tactics at the Hare and Hounds Comedy club meetings, where a completely disparate group of some 35 individuals (although 2 weeks on down to 28) have met and been educated in the ways of comedy by a proper stand up comedian. It is always a tough one when you walk into a strange environment not knowing anyone, and want to try and sus out what is going on and at the same time keep a low profile if at all possible.
Interestingly given the differences in everyone present, and it truly is a massive mix of creed, age, religion, sex, and personality, the one common bond is simple. We are allowing ourselves to do willingly what probably 99.9% of most people would never actually want to do. Quite simply walk onto a stage of strangers and make them laugh, facing either the glory of a successful comedy routine, or the soul scarring humiliation of an epic fail, where no one responded and silence grew louder. So, begs the question why the hell put yourself through it in the first place, good question.
Obvious answer is the common cause, cancer research, and a very noble and right cause to pursue, but deeper than that is the bigger question of testing yourself, your confidence, your material, and your inner strength to be courageous enough to walk onto the stage and into the light. And even worse the fickle fate of public judgement and possibly ridicule and humiliation. And that is the biggest challenge, I genuinely believe that every single one of us are equal, no one wants to feel embarrassed or unwanted, it is the most basic of human conditions. However, the arena that is the Glee club will be that gladiatorial stage and we are mere actors in the spotlight for 5 minutes, then done. And as James pointed out last night, 5 minutes after you have exited the stage no one will remember who you are, or what you said. Such is the fickle nature of comedy and human judgement, unless of course you make a huge mess of it, then they might remember who you are for all the wrong reasons.
So, week by week I am learning more about what makes comedy and indeed a stand up comedian, having great stories and jokes is one thing but delivery and timing are something else. It truly is a craft and a skill that you simply have to learn, so that is what I will attempt to do. Keep you posted dear chums….