I made my stand-up debut on 9 December 2011. A date I will remember for as long as Alzheimer's allows me. It wasn't something I had considered doing until, perhaps, the last year or so, which is actually surprising when I think about it. You see, I've always thought of myself as being funny, and I've always been a show off. So why hadn't I tried stand-up before now?
I couldn't tell you the difference between a baritone and a Toblerone, but still I have got up on a karaoke night and murdered a selection of songs with my own brand of singing.
Perhaps it is because people expect to hear bad singers at karaoke occasionally, but if someone stands on a stage and says that they are funny, then, by God they had better make that audience laugh. Karaoke singers are not expected to write their own songs either, but comedians don't get the luxury of doing cover versions or tribute acts. Singers, for the most part, know if they sound good or not. Stand-ups never really know if other people will find, what they have been laughing at in their own heads, funny until they say it out loud in front of an audience. So maybe it isn't surprising that there are many more people willing to sing down a microphone than there are prepared to tell jokes into it.
The catalyst in helping me make the decision to eventually stand on stage, and say, "my name is Alex Mclean and I'm a comedian," was undoubtedly the often maligned Twitter.
I joined Twitter to follow people, and hopefully get some advice with regard to publishing my first novel. But I discovered lots of people who were tweeting one liners and puns at a fantastic rate. So I started to do a few of my own, and I slowly grew into it. I became friends with people who were taking that plunge and doing stand up. To a man (and lady) they all talked of the buzz they got, the rush of adrenaline as they got on stage and the feeling of pride when people laughed at the joke they had dreamed up while travelling to work, or falling asleep at night.
So I said I would do it, and they said to go for it, and I said I would.
And then one of them called my bluff and asked me to appear at a comedy night he was organising. As I said earlier, I'm a show off, so I couldn't say no to an offer like that.
I wrote my material, and practiced it. I rewrote it, and practiced it again. And again, and again. And then the night arrived where I would make my stand, so to speak. And instantly on arriving, and seeing my name on the poster as a comedy act, I knew what my friends had been talking about. Already I was gushing with pride.
Then the show started. I was due on third, with one more act following me to close the first half of the show. I was happy with my place in the running order. It was an ideal place to put the only act making his debut, until the show started, and a football team on its Christmas night out reared its very ugly head. They were there with the sole intention of being rowdy hecklers. The first two acts failed to overcome them, and were sadly run over by them despite some good material being crushed by the noise.
And then it was me. But the MC decided to take me out the firing line, and put a more experienced act on instead. The right decision, as he ignored them, and like any spoilt child who gets ignored, they just got up and left. This left me to get on stage midway through the second half. I was introduced as someone making his stand up debut, and there was a sharp intake of breath which almost pulled the Christmas tinsel off the windows. But I wasn't to be put off. I understood their apprehension. I after all had been worrying myself sick about this for days. But I got up there, and slowly I got into it, and so did they. And they laughed, and they even clapped once or twice.
Sure, some of my stuff didn't work as well as I had hoped, but some worked better than I had anticipated. And having watched it back, I have a lot to work on, but get this, they laughed. And I have been bitten by the bug of stand up.
I already have booked myself five more appearances, and I am writing and practicing and writing and practicing. And hopefully I'll get a little better every time I get on a stage, because I want that buzz to continue to feel the way it did that night.