Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the British Comedy Awards. Having missed my opportunity to do so two years in a row previously, I was naturally excited to be in a room surrounded by my favourite British comics, the CIA bloke out of Homeland and gallons of free booze. Hosted this year at Fountain Studios in Wembley, best known for being the home of X Factor, my brother and I sat in excitement as the awards kicked off realising we were in the same room as The Thick of It's Peter Capaldi, Darth Maul himself aka Peter Serafinowicz and of course, the mighty Steve Coogan.
In-between adverts, we table-hopped, saying "hello" between those we knew before, hoping that Sacha Baron Cohen would still be dressed as Ali G at the after-party for potentially amazing photo opportunities. Having been lucky enough to gatecrash quite a few awards ceremonies before, albeit mainly music ones, I knew that the real fun should lie in the after-party. It's when the cameras are switched off, and the booze runs deep within the veins of the room.
Previous award ceremonies have seen me embroiled in a punch-up with a Scottish indie band, throwing burgers at magazine editors and even waiting with a band member as he picks up drugs, in turn, missing his band winning an award. You see, music industry bashes are rock n roll for a reason: everybody gives a fuck, or disnae give a fuck. Those who do give a fuck are music managers, PRs, journalists. Those who don't are usually the ones who are being heralded that evening.
So you'd think, a comedy awards, featuring the biggest names in the UK would be somewhat similar. There is an old adage that most comedians secretly want to be rock stars. Of course, the only real relation to rock stars they have is that they're both partial to being complete narcissists and perform on a stage. However, where a musician may cover another musicians track as a homage to their talent, the comedy world is so embittered that the back-scratching is one of the most oddest I've ever witnessed.
There are certain comedians who haven't been fazed by public adoration, and can take a compliment or high praise without screwing their face up and sticking their head back into their tortoise shell, scared that it's all one big set-up. However, for the majority of them, it's truly baffling to watch as they're told how funny someone thinks they are. Musicians generally find themselves up their own arses, but they're allowed to - the nature of the industry has bred a certain arrogance and pompousness.
Comedians should not be cocks. They are meant to be speaking for the people, saying the things that we're afraid to, but also allowing us to relate to them, thanks to their brilliantly observed take on life. We relate to them just like we relate to a band's first album, because they all draw from the same feelings and frustrations we suffer on a daily basis. We feel we know them, because they've exposed their souls to us on-stage, usually revealing intimate and embarrassing details of their private lives, allowing us to feel endeared.
The after-party begun, and the cocktails were unleashed on the crème de la crème of British comedy. Except rather than see a surge for the bogs as bands queue impatiently to rack up lines of gak (this is a good thing, I may add), instead I witnessed networking at it's most serious - almost as if I had found myself attending the Chicken Cottage Awards by accident. I found myself getting in trouble for gatecrashing serious conversations with my friends talking to loveable comedians everywhere I went.
It's as if nobody could turn it off, even just for one night. Either that, or they're far more professional. I imagine it would be weird if at the NME Awards aftershow, all the bands just started sing-offs or jamming out together, but I didn't expect what I saw last week, as comedians all stood stone-faced opposite each other, hobnobbing with producers rather than chasing potential groupies around the room.
Accidentally, I'd hijacked conversations with friends talking to the likes of Vic Reeves and Kayvan Novak and accused of being a lairy little cunt. Why? Because in my head, my sozzled little head, you expect these guys to be the fucking kings of verbal sparring. You expect them to take your stupidly-composed-witticisms and silence you in a sharp, well-calculated swipe of a put-down. What I actually got was overly-excused looks of being interrupted, as if they were both deep in conversation discussing the loss of a dearly-loved one.
If ever was a shortage of paranoia, if ever that feeling needed to be bottled up for scientific use, then all you'd need to do is plonk the comedy industry into a laboratory and you'd have enough supplies to last an eternity. I don't watch anything on television that doesn't make me laugh - it's the greatest emotion I know, but to see so many likable characters act in such an emotionally unstable and acultish fashion really has ruined my wide-eyed love of the industry.Maybe it was the heat of the moment, the intensity of an entire industry feeling uncertainty that concocted the lack of fun. Or perhaps comedians are just more fun to hang out with on their own.
Either way, it was an honour to be stood, annoyingly, amongst them.