(Photo by Fung Wah Man. Taken at Knock2bag)
I don't want to pick a fight necessarily but the stand up boom in the UK has subsided, this industry properly sucks, I'm off and I wish it a fiery death...
Do I need to put a wink-face emoticon here?
Come late January-February 2015 I've decided to follow in the footsteps of Doug Stanhope and Neil Hamburger and peel off from the comedy club circuit. Only I'm willing to go one step further and tour absolutely anywhere but. Already we have booked a burrito bar, a zoo, a comic book shop and a dungeons and dragons café. Ultimately I want to do a gig in someone's lounge room.
(If this appeals to you feel free to go here and pledge.)
Because something is not quite right in the comedy clubs of the UK - increasingly I've had punters, who wanted to hear what I had to say, apologise to me on behalf of their fellow audience members because a stag do didn't know when to shut up or a drunk woman in the front row thought it was her place to insert herself into everything I was saying: agreeing or disagreeing loudly as she saw fit. Next year, when I hit the road, who doesn't find me is every bit as important who does.
I am aware that this is the UK and the British pride themselves on their sense of humour. A brag usually followed with a declaration so lacking in self-awareness that it couldn't possibly be coupled with well exercised funny bones: "I think it's because of our ability to laugh at ourselves" Oh how noble. Why thank you masser. We-sa all-sa glad the master race can laff at yo-selves.
Speaking as a comic on the international scene, I hate to shatter this illusion (Clearly I don't. I'd say it's fairly obvious I revel in doing so) but pretty much every country and culture on the planet wants to hear jokes at their expense- particularly from an outsider's point of view. They just don't consider it magnanimous or anything particularly special. But I am finding increasingly that UK audiences are willing to laugh at only themselves.
Clearly we live in the age of the "selfie" both figuratively and literally. If people feel it's "their" night out and they don't immediately see themselves in what you're doing or saying not only do they not laugh but they're more than a little outraged.
Personally I've always thought the aim of this art form was to find a voice and point of view not normally heard. Ultimately I like to leave people thinking, "I never looked at it that way" or, at the very least, "My sides hurt, that guy made nonsense sound viable". Not, "Yes. I do that. I think that. I feel that. My partner does that. Me me me" And yet last time I checked, it's supposed to be our act. The audience doesn't get to feature in it from start to finish - the Rolling Stones wouldn't sound better if I played base.
Additionally, it is nothing short of staggering what people deem controversial in the age of the "selfie": completely unwilling to dig through even the most wafer thin layer of face value to uncover the simplest of subtext. There are die-hard comedy fans that enjoy the mental arithmetic of digging and there are comedy goers who work hard all week and (perhaps rightfully) want a night off.
In the latter environment comedians don't find a voice, they just learn to do what works. Leaving true fans of the art unsatisfied and frustrated. Certainly there is a need for casual fans to unwind and I learned long ago not to resent anywhere I don't belong. Just move on.
Because, in comedy, when the going gets tough, the tough run and hide.
Tour dates already booked can be found here (With more to come).
And if you like the sound of this and think you might have the right place (50-80 seaters, the quirkier the better) in your town email: firstname.lastname@example.org