Okay. Which option would you pick if you had to choose between 1. Doing stand-up comedy for the first time in front of an audience of almost a hundred people or 2. Shooting yourself in the head? Yeah, I chose number two as well, but no one had a fucking gun.
The single most common thing people say to me when they find out I do stand-up is, "You're so brave!" I'm not. I'm really not. The fact is, if I had been William Wallace, I would have said to my army, "This is the plan: we hide behind these trees until the English get fed up freezing their bollocks off and go home."
Still think I'm fearless because I get up in front of strangers and try to make them laugh? Get this: I first thought I'd like to do stand-up when I saw Ben Elton on TV combining two of my favourite things - comedy and politics. I was 15 and I thought, I could do that (no offence, Ben). Then after plucking up the courage for two decades, I finally did my first gig. You read it right. TWO DECADES.
You might be wondering why I decided to go into stand-up comedy at all if I were so afraid of it. The answer is simple. I was more afraid of NOT going into it. That is, I was more afraid of not doing what I wanted to do in life, of letting my fears get the better of me, of playing it safe and of sharing my deathbed with a stack of unfulfilled ambitions. Life is not like school. If you get to the end and there's stuff you haven't done, you can't put your hand up and say, "Miss, the dog ate my homework" and get an extra few days. The time is now.
If there's one thing I've learned in the last 20 years - and other than the keyboard shortcuts for 'copy' and 'paste', it probably is just this one thing - it's that if you don't do it, it won't happen. That seems obvious, but these words are being written by a woman who has just entered her third decade of secretly thinking Albert Broccoli (yes, I know he's dead, trust me, this is not the most unrealistic part of this sentence) might see me walking around Birkenhead and declare, "That woman is a goddess! She would be perfect on the arm of 007. Also, I will speak to HarperCollins and arrange for them to publish her book." (In these last few years, I've imagined him spotting me on stage, because Bond girls are renowned for their short legs and ability to make people laugh.) My point is that dreams rarely just come true. You have to take action to move in their direction. For example, I've actually written the book now.
Being a writer was my initial dream and doing stand-up is an extension of it. Taking my words to a live audience is awesome. I'm glad there were no firearms available at that first gig because I've now had the opportunity to gig hundreds of times since and I love doing it, even in Wigan where I get confused looks from audience members who have never seen a woman on stage without a pole.
It was completely by accident that my first ever gig was on 8 March 2010 - International Women's Day. This year the theme for International Women's Day is 'Make it Happen'. So join me and we'll take steps to do just that. For my part, I'll be working on some new material. Then I'll go out and walk around Birkenhead. Just in case.