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