From the crest of a slump to the crest of a wave

Greetings comedy lovers everywhere. It’s been a while since I’ve done a gig….Covid 19 restrictions are being gradually lifted here in the UK meaning we can sit inside at venues now rather than sitting freezing our whatsits off in the bitter English weather.

Online gigs are still continuing of course, and recently I’ve been taking part in a comedy workshop run by a promoter and fellow stand up colleague of mine. We had five attendees, online and in person, and I was the only one with any kind of experience (12 gigs so far). The others were totally new to this amazing experience.

We learnt all about joke writing and performance technique, and we all helped each other out to construct a routine that would be broadcast last night, Friday, 21st May.

The venue was the place I volunteer at in East London. And for the first time in 15 months, I was performing with a microphone, at a venue and in front of others in the room, allied to those online too.

Just to rewind a bit, I’ve been going through a rough spell mentally and I’ve been allowing certain things to get at me. Last night was a case in point. It usually takes 45-60 minutes travelling time by bus to the venue. Being autistic, I crave routine and order. Everything has to be on time and no hold ups.

It was a filthy evening, howling gales and driving rain not helping my mood. It was a long wait for a bus and when it arrived, it was somewhat full already. Then when another arrived within 30 seconds (a frequent occurrence in London), that got stopped short of it’s destination by an accident.

So the bus was full and the driver, who must have lived on the moon for the last 15 months and not realising that a pandemic is still ongoing, let still more people on that it was sardine like. My temper, already short, was now at boiling point. I had to sit and suffer for a while.

I had to think quickly. I took a detour and went via tube. That proved to be a good decision and I arrived, somewhat angry and bedraggled, 90 minutes after I set out.

I set up camp in the performance area and wrote out my script. The others had been practising and getting themselves ready. I could sense their nerves as they were new to this, but I was nervous too. I had to write my script out to concentrate my mind and take it away from the fraught journey I’d just undertaken.

There were 50 attendees and the standard of the acts was top draw once again. The newbies were staggeringly good….you wouldn’t know they were newbies. One guy had some nerves and a slight brain freeze (we’ve all been there) but recovered superbly and came out with some great material.

Then it was me……and any nerves I had soon disappeared. I was in the zone and away. Started off with some well rehearsed jokes and then finished with a routine about my one and only claim to fame….I went to school with David Beckham, the world famous footballer.

That sketch involved me as a phone a friend on Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Chris Tarrant as host. Out came the impressions of Becks and Tarrant and the laughter and applause was like stepping on to the podium at the Olympics and receiving the gold medal. All my anger and frustration of the last 7 days left me in a trice and I felt amazing.

Then we had a young lady with cerebral palsy whose self deprecating humour and ability to ad lib wowed the audience. That was the whole raison d’etre of the evening, to give disabled (whether mentally or physically or both) acts a chance to be creative and perform.

The second half saw some established acts take the stage and they were superb. In fact the whole evening was amazing and to stand there in front of a microphone and to display our skills is something money cannot buy.

It took me a while to go to sleep as the adrenaline was still going round…..I’m so looking forward to the next one, online on Wednesday. And I have another live gig in late June and in July. So much to look forward to, and proving that comedy is a real antidote to stress and strain. And how we’ve needed it in the last 15 months.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

Back to the beginning….

It’s been another difficult spell for me mentally, so a consequence of that is that I’ve withdrawn temporarily from the stand up comedy world. Not been in the best frame of mind. One gig had to be binned because I was struggling. Lockdown weariness I think it’s called.

But I thought it was time to return to the beginning, when I did my first live gig in January 2020. That night, I stood there as UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and it went really well.

I hadn’t done a complete impression set for a while so thought I would do so last night at another online gig where I made my debut just recently. I felt in the right frame of mind too, as a recent stressful event concluded to my satisfaction and I was ready to go.

I looked at the line up. I was on second to last. The standard was excellent as usual and I was a little nervous. I had the script and the Boris wig to hand, but…….

The MC, who did a superb job, caught me slightly unawares by cutting to me early. I was fiddling around getting my virtual background to work, when she said “Ian Fullbrook”. Aaaaargh. What a start. I got the background up, the wig on and the promoter then told me my sound was off. A fleeting thought that this will bomb horribly, but no.

After that slight problem, I settled in, the voice was good, the material was good and the laughter was sweet music once again. And boy did I need that pick me up. What did settle me down was the promoter involving me in his magic set at the start of the second half. He is a very accomplished magician and the banter between us had the audience in stitches….totally unplanned and unscripted but fantastic to be involved. His magic trick was a mind reading one and the end result had us all in raptures.

The after show saw some interesting discussion around mental health. I poured out my soul to the remaining audience about the problems I’ve been having. It was very therapeutic and good to get some kind and supportive words too.

This morning, the promoter got in touch and again, was very supportive and kind with his words about my set. Others have got in touch too and I feel lighter. The feeling when a stressful event ends is like nothing else. You feel so much better, as though you’re breathing in clean air. I have peace and quiet around me for the foreseeable future and I am so pleased.

So back on the comedy horse again and pleased to be doing so. Looking forward to performing live in front of an audience when these lockdown restrictions are further lifted here in the UK. Also the weather has been fabulous the last few days here in London so that is an enormous boost to the well being.

Take care.

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

The Big Step Up…..

I’ve done six gigs so far, two live in front of an audience and four since lockdown. I’ve been encouraged to try my hand at another online comedy gig here in the UK, and it took me some while to take the plunge.

And so to last night. I’ve been tuning into this particular one to get a feel of what is required and what the quality of the acts are like. It is a very slickly run production, and the acts are top quality.

Considering I fell into this stand up lark by accident a year ago, I cannot believe I’m performing on the same stage as some very fine acts. I think “Is this really happening?” Yes, it’s like some spectacular dream, and I haven’t woken up yet.

I was extremely nervous, but I took the time and trouble to practise the set yesterday afternoon. It worked well, and when it was time to get going, I tuned in and there I was – on third in the first half. The nerves were building. I had amazing support from a lot of my contemporaries but being a newish kind of audience, I still had those nagging self doubts.

And then, my name was up in lights…..I was on. I took the trouble to wear a nice black polo neck jumper and a joke just came into my head “Hi Ladies and Gents….I’ve just been delivering some Milk Tray chocolates…, just got back”.

That settled me in, the laughter was there and I was away. Tripped over a couple of punchlines, only slightly, nobody seemed to notice, but the material was sound and the jokes were hitting their target. This felt the most amazing feeling ever. Nothing can beat this when it goes well. The positive comments I was getting on the Zoom chat just blew me away.

I even threw in a brief impression of UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. That was well received and I hope to develop that further at future evenings.

The great feedback kept on rolling in afterwards and this morning from the promoter. Great compliment to say how well I did, considering that’s only my seventh gig in total. I also take part to learn from others, on how to do it, and how not to do it. I never stop listening and learning.

So I didn’t get a lot of sleep….as the adrenaline was still running round. This is one helluva feeling. And I want more of it!

Stay safe

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

A little bit of genius….

Hi. It’s the middle of winter here in the UK, and to complicate the lockdown, we’ve had some freezing weather to make us feel a bit more low…..until….

Every so often something happens or you see something that will stay with you for a very long time. Last night, I was an audience member for another online comedy gig (I’m performing next week….of which more later) and as usual the standard of the acts was extremely stratospheric!

A chap come on at the end of the first half, with jam jar bottom spectacles, train spotter look, and a train spotter voice. His stage name….Kevin the Nerd.

It was a harmless enough start, with some amusing stuff about Kevin working in the IT department of a zoo. But then the set took an unexpected and frankly, awe inspiringly funny turn.

Kevin transmorphed into a small puppet and proceeded to tell us about his love life. Along comes a female puppet, and this proceeds until from stage left, comes a crocodile to eat up the female. Cue gales of laughter from the audience. The giggles had already started for me, and they were to multiply….

If that wasn’t enough, Kevin met another female puppet and there then followed a sex scene which was sheer joy from a comedy point of view. The bit that got me was the fact the female puppet was sitting on Kevin’s face during the intercourse….by this time the laughter had built up to such a crescendo you just wouldn’t believe.

Absolute genius. I will nominate it as one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, so original, so dark and so cleverly done. If it is topped this year, I want to be there. Everybody was breathless, sides aching from the laughter and really how do you follow that? Not easy.

Once again, a superb night and I’m so glad I’ve joined up to watch and perform. On that note, I’ve been accepted to perform next week. I can’t hope to match Kevin the Nerd, but I’m determined to give it a good go. Just need to get down to business and write my set. The whole ambience and atmosphere of the night is a sheer joy, and that is down to the promoter and his MC’s for engendering that.

I cannot wait to get on stage next week, but take a bow, Kevin the Nerd!

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

Who needs medication when you can have laughter?

It’s been a tough few months for me personally. The depths of winter, the cold, dark days and the continuation of Covid 19 lockdown here in London has led to a downturn in my well being. I was not communicating with friends, family or stand up comedy colleagues. I wanted to wallow and keep out of the way.

Even earlier this week, I felt pretty abject. But all of a sudden, like a switch being flicked, I feel better again. And so that leads onto the latest online stand up comedy gig that I did last night.

This particular night is regularly frequented by me, and I had a fresh lot of material to try out. During the day, the anxieties and the panic were overtaking me, and I was even considering withdrawing from the event. But in the end, I was glad I took part.

The audience was about 40 strong, and the other acts were enormously strong and enormously good. I had to match that quality…..and all the anxieties stopped once I began.

I was thrown a bit of a curve ball by the host! I wanted to do a Donald Trump impression right at the end of my set (topical, keep it fresh!) and I was all prepared for that, when suddenly, the host said that Trump was to open my set! Eeeeek!!! So I had to think quickly. The wig was more or less plonked on my head along with the Make America Great Again (some mistake surely?) baseball hat and I had to get into the impression quickly.

And with that improvisation, I was away. The audience were laughing away and I was eased into the set. The rest of the set were jokes, interspersed with the occasional bit of observation, and again, the audience were laughing away. I was even interacting with them, I felt that confident and that good.

Got a lot of excellent feedback and it’s always nice to get that validation off the other acts. One of the acts, an American lady who now lives in London, said that my Trump impersonation was spot on. Blimey! The adrenaline was running round me and the whole night was a tremendous buzz. Nothing can take away the sound of people laughing with me, rather than at me.

Took me a long while to get to sleep, and I feel very good this morning! As I’ve mentioned before, this stand up comedy was something I fell into by complete accident. Not a path I would ever have chosen. But how it’s kept me going through some very low moments these last 12 months.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Yours in comedy

Stay safe

Ian L. Fullbrook

Salvaging something from the wreckage……

As we all no doubt too aware, 2020 has been a shocking year. Covid 19 continues to be an ever present danger and in the UK, restrictions are tighter than ever in an effort to combat it’s already virulent spread.

The run up to Christmas has been very traumatic, with the final curve ball being thrown by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who did a U turn and scrapped the Christmas plans that were already in place. Of course, a lot of people were angry, upset, disappointed but what I’m seeing and hearing today is that people are making the most of the day.

I, for one, cannot see my partner as she has to shield, and the idea of seeing my immediate family (six of them) has to be shelved for this year. For all that, I don’t feel too bad as I’ve been in contact with a fair few people already today. Two friends popped round yesterday with seasons greetings and a gift each. Today, another friend is popping round with a Christmas dinner. The kindness that has been shown is something that I will always treasure. Seeing my sister tomorrow for a Boxing Day catch up.

So, I’m making the best of the wreckage that lays all around us. I’m in regular touch with my stand up comedy colleagues, and am grateful for their support over the last year. We should all be thankful for getting through to today and to be with family members, and to have your health and sanity, which has been put to the test in 2020.

Cannot wait to start performing stand up again in 2021, so all that remains for me is to wish you all a Happy Christmas, keep smiling and laughing if you can, and above all, stay safe.

With love from

Ian L. Fullbrook

Time for a freshen up…..

It’s been a month since my last online stand up comedy gig and to be honest, last month didn’t go as well as planned. I did a Donald Trump impression and though it was respectable, it didn’t get the reaction I was hoping for.

So, time to freshen things up a little. I then decided to write a comedy routine where I just do jokes instead of an impression. It was a little bit of a risk, but I think it was a risk worth taking. Nothing ventured and all that.

And so on to last night. Another top quality line up of acts and little old me. If you said to me this time last year that I would be welcomed into the stand up comedy world with open arms, I would have said that you have taken leave of your senses.

However, one year on, and here we are. The jokes went well, they hit the spot perfectly and the audience, and one or two of the other acts liked the set. I was really pleased with how it went. The calculated gamble paid off. The seven or eight minutes passed by in a pure adrenaline rush.

With the quality of the other acts on show, I feel very flattered to be included in such high company. Things are moving forward, albeit slowly, and that next gig in front of a live audience is approaching. I can’t wait for that to happen, and I’m sure my fellow acts would agree.

I felt as though I made some enormous strides last night. By rolling the dice, the act went well. I don’t just want to be known as an impressionist, I need some other avenues to explore. And last night was a great start.

Yours in comedy.

Ian L. Fullbrook

Some shameless self promotion!!!

It’s been a tough year for a host of reasons. But I aim to end it on a good note.

I saw an advert on Facebook for an impressionist to do a few voices for a possible sketch to be recorded in London next month. As you know, I can impersonate a few people, like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Alan Carr, Chris Tarrant, Julian Clary to name but a few.

I’m slowly (very slowly) being recognised for doing a few silly voices so I recorded a short promo video in order to see if I can get that gig recording that sketch. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That would improve my mental well being, which has suffered a lot this year, like most people. So I’m playing to my strengths. I’ve included the video here…..hope you like it.

Yours in comedy.

Ian L. Fullbrook

Shed no tiers for the new lockdown measures…..

Hi folks. My location, London, along with the neighbouring county, Essex have been placed into Tier 2 Covid-19 measures, meaning that I’ll be on my own for a while, unable to mix with others in their houses or to meet them in a pub or restaurant.

Nothing much comedic in that paragraph you may think, and you would be right. But this “temporary” lockdown will give me a chance to design another set for my next online performance. As you may remember, the last gig didn’t go so well, so I’m going to try something different. Just me, no silly voices, no wigs, trying to be funny without resorting to mimicry.

Hopefully it’ll work, because there needs to be an improvement. A change is as good as a rest so they say, so I’ve drafted a set to perform and I’ll add or subtract material as I see fit. Worth a go, as I don’t want to be known as a one trick pony.

But on the subject of mimicry, a couple of stand up colleagues want to do a sketch with me, with me as Boris Johnson, and of course his strategy for dealing with Covid-19. That’s something to look forward to. Live gigs in front of an audience is looking distant at this stage. Online it has to be for the time being. If this “temporary” lockdown turns things around then all well and good. Sadly, I won’t be able to mix with those nearest and dearest to me. Everything comes to an end, and let’s all hope Covid-19 does one and sods off quick. It’s been a depressing year, and those feelings won’t disappear before year end.

Still, got to keep busy on the comedy front, and looking forward to performing my brand new set soon. Then I may go back to impressions. Trying to control the controllables.

For now, keep smiling

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

A Comedians Podcast

Hello. Yesterday evening I took part in a podcast with several of my stand up partners in crime. It was World Mental Health Day of course and the podcast was part of a series of online events that one of my places I volunteer for had running yesterday.

We discussed coping strategies, what keeps us well and why comedy helps us to stay creative during these very difficult times. Mental illness should be talked about everyday, not just one day every October. It was an excellent group and the podcast worked extremely well, save for a few minutes at the end when I experienced some sound problems and everyone sounded like they’d ingested some helium!

People tuned in across various social media platforms and we had comments from people during the live podcast. If we could help just one person feel better about their day, then we were doing our job. It’s such a shame that we all would have been involved more socially but for this Covid pandemic.

That’s why, during this Covid dictated time, that we all take time out to check our own mental health and of those around us. It was a delight to be involved yesterday, and I look forward to more podcasts and interaction around mental health. We comedians can be serious too!

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook