Who wants to be a Chatty Man Bojo Millionaire?

Oh live stand up comedy, I’ve missed the buzz of performing!

I’ve been a little reluctant to do online stand up gigs as the technology can be a bit unreliable and you never quite know who is watching. But in the end, I had to bite the bullet and do my first online gig and my third one in total.

So last night I went to my stand up partner in crime’s house to take part online. I was part of a seven strong line up, and I was to open the second half. My goodness, the standard of the other acts was off the scale. Just brilliant all the way through, hilarious. An eclectic mix of the subtle, the deadpan, the bawdy, the philosophical and the plain daft such as myself.

These three guys were put into a sketch where I impersonated all three in an edition of the world famous Who Want’s To Be a Millionaire game show.

Chris Tarrant, Boris Johnson as celebrity player with Alan Carr as a phone a friend. It was based on the Covid 19 with the buffoonery of Boris complemented by the outlandish camp style of Alan Carr.

And a sketch that was several months in the planning came to fruition. Really chuffed on how it went. There was lots of laughs and I felt as though I belonged in a very high standard of stand up comedy.

The last act, who was fantastic, was being similarly enjoyed by everyone, all except my partner, who was pictured on Zoom snuggled up on the sofa, asleep, which drew much hilarity from everyone. We had an audience of 25 or so, and though it wasn’t the real, real thing so to speak, it was as close to perfect as you can get for an online gig. I’m now sold on the idea and can’t wait for the next one.

Endorsement and positive feedback is always welcome, and I got plenty of decent reviews from some members of the audience and some of the other acts. The organiser/promoter and his partner were extremely complimentary and I felt very much at home.

Despite getting home gone midnight and feeling a little bleary eyed this morning, I feel tremendous. I feel on Cloud 9, and nothing can replace that buzz of making people laugh, one of the hardest skills to master.

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

Ian L

Comedy travelling far….

Yesterday, I accompanied a friend of mine who was gigging at a comedy venue in Southampton, which for those who don’t know, is in the South of England. My friend wanted to get out of the London comfort zone and ply his trade out of town where the audiences are different and you have to tailor your material to suit.

So myself, my friend and his partner travelled down from Waterloo in the evening. If I tell you that Waterloo is one of the busiest railway stations on the planet, then you would hardly believe what I’m about to tell you. It was a quarter full at 6 pm, hardly a soul to be seen. The Covid 19 strictures are having an effect, even six months on (is it really six months), and people are still working from home.

Nice journey down, about 75 minutes and then a short walk to a pub in Southampton town centre. My friend was really nervous when we arrived and then when he was told he was on first, he was like a cat on hot bricks. He so wanted to do well and I was glad to be there, supporting him and picking up a few tips in the bargain.

So on he went, and I’ve watched him three times now. I have to say that was his best last night. Good material, with a puppet prop to boot and several humorous references to autism and mental illness (something we both share experiences). Also, everyone loves a blooper or pratfall where someone forgets their words. This happened to my friend, but the audience laughed as they were on his side. Excellent set.

From the sublime though to the ridiculous. At the two gigs I’ve been to so far, there has been one unfunny turkey that reduces the room to total silence, like the forgotten tomb. All comedians, even the greatest ones, have had gigs where they’ve “died” on stage. It is a nightmare from which there is no escape, not only for the performer, but for the audience.

And so it was to prove. A chap came on in the middle and brought the tumbleweed with him. A series of unfunny and frankly disgusting jokes was greeted by said silence. The three of us sat there in shock. My friend showed me a message he typed into this notes “I wish I was deaf”. My reply was “Can we change the f in deaf to a d?”. Gracious me, it was terrible. And the thing was, he ploughed on, oblivious to the silence. And the jokes got worse, if you can call them jokes.

I swear at one point that the hands on my watch were going backwards. Suffice it to say, it’s part of my life I won’t be getting back. 10 minutes seemed like an hour. The applause at the end was out of politeness, nothing more. He needed a shovel to continue digging the deep hole he found himself in the moment he started speaking.

I sat there and thought “I’m funnier than him” though it wasn’t difficult in all honesty. I could have pushed him off stage and done seven minutes of my impressions and that would have been more suited to the audience’s taste, I like to think.

The night was saved by the following act, a young lady who knew how to set up a joke and follow it with a great punchline. I hope the previous act was watching and noting that you don’t have to be offensive to be funny. She was excellent and topped and tailed the first half with my friend starting off in brilliant style too.

We had to leave as we had a fair journey back and the whole trip was an impression battle with the two of us playing a game of Top Trumps. This is based on the old card game except that we had to outdo each other with a Donald Trump impression. His is better than mine, with more emphasis on the louder version while mine is a bit more measured. There were a few other impressions too, and the three of us were nicely entertained, though tired at journey’s end.

Tonight folks, I’m partaking in a Zoom online comedy gig where I will be displaying my talents (such as they are) and hopefully creating a good impression (pardon the pun). Looking forward to it as it looks as though this could be the only avenue to perform, live gigs could be under threat again if Covid gets worse again during the autumn and winter months.

That’s all from me, I’ll be back tomorrow with highlights (hopefully no lowlights) of tonight’s Zoom gig.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

Live stand up makes a welcome return….

At last…..at last…..live stand up comedy made a welcome return into my life again last night. I accompanied a fellow act to a venue on the other side of London where it was Covid 19 restricted, for example, only 20 people were allowed to watch instead of the usual 70.

It was an unusual pub, which had decor akin to the Queen Victoria pub in the BBC soap Eastenders. Some of the cocktail drinks were Eastender themed, one called Pat Butcher and one called Barbara Windsor. I suppose the Pat Butcher one would have made the drinker shout out “Paaaaaaaaaaaaaat” like the actor and comedian Mike Reid used to do in the show some years previous. Anyway, I digress.

It was a well organised evening, fast and furious with all acts limited to 5 minutes. There were three acts on the Zoom app as well, and I settled back to enjoy some decent comedy.

As always with comedy, there are exceptions to the usual excellent standard. Not everyone can cut the mustard. One particular gentleman’s subject area was highly questionable, very unfunny, and was greeted with silence throughout. He was also rather aggressive with a couple of audience members too. Not good. Thankfully the five minutes were up before he could inflict more pain on himself.

Trying to get the audience to like you with an aggressive approach can be doomed to failure, especially if the material is unfunny. And no matter how hard you try, it only gets worse. Plenty of lessons to be learned.

Another Covid 19 restriction was the lack of communication (cheering, whooping and whistling) from the audience. We could clap and no more than that. All for very good reason.

The act I supported did fine, and his subject area of autism and mental health struck a chord with me. Another act, a young African gentleman, was the top act of the night. Obtuse, clever humour and his gags hit the right spot. He seemed at home in front of an audience and it was no surprise; he presents a football programme on a satellite TV station. Confidence abounded. I really enjoyed his set.

So it was great to get back out there and have a watch. I was offered the chance, incidentally, to perform, but I declined as I’m a little rusty and need some time to prepare some material. On that note, I hope to be performing at a virtual gig next month, so that’ll give me something to aim for.

Excellent night, and good to travel in and around London for the first time in a very long time.

Yours in comedy…

Ian L. Fullbrook

My heart went zoom……

Hello. Stand up comedy made a welcome return to my life last night. Via the conferencing app Zoom, I was able to partake in a 2 and a half hour conversation with seven other people.

We talked about our stand up experiences and we shared plenty of jokes and banter, as well as some fresh ideas for getting more publicity, via podcasts and the like. Why the publicity? Because the seven of us have a disability, either mental or physical. And before anyone says that autism isn’t a disability, it is. It’s a lifelong disability.

The guy who presented the meeting was a wonderful guy called Benjamin Elliott or Benny Shakes (his stage name). Benny has cerebral palsy and other underlying health conditions. But this doesn’t stop him from being an amazing human being, and me and Benny have been friends ever since I made my stand up debut back in January of this year, which seems an awfully long time ago.

Benny appeared on the same bill and I was wowed by his brilliant wit and self deprecating humour, with the gift of timing, all important in comedy. We keep in touch a lot and this disabled comedians Zoom meeting is a great idea to share our experiences.

I’ve not been all that well for most of this year, and I was looking for some inspiration and some laughs, and I got that last night. It was a great boost to my flagging fortunes….and it was also time to wheel out my impressions of Julian Clary, Chris Tarrant, Boris Johnson and X Factor Voiceover man, Peter Dickson. The others enjoyed the impressions and I’m very grateful for that.

I’ve just missed the live stand up, the vibe and the laughter of the audiences. But I will return stronger and better than ever. My momentum got stopped but of course, by something that we will never forget, the Covid 19 pandemic. But nothing lasts forever, and I’m itching to get back into it and to meet up with some of the other acts, who I’m in awe of.

Joining us last night was the guy that gave me my debut, Mark Burkwood, himself a stand up comic of more experience than me. I’ll always be eternally grateful for his faith in me, and it was good to hook up with him again, and he’s promised me a spot at either a virtual gig or the next available live audience one. Can’t wait.

All in all, a terrific evening and looking forward to the next one in a fortnight.

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

Rotten apples in the barrel….

Hi. How are we all doing? I’ve perked up after a very difficult three months and life is a little better. Stand up comedy nights are obviously not happening at the moment, but with technology and social media so prevalent these days, there are virtual comedy nights going round.

I’ve been invited to perform at a couple of these virtual nights but haven’t done so so far. It’s a good job I didn’t link up to the last one as regrettably, it fell prey to online hackers who, in their game of pass the brain cell around, decided to wreck the night and cause it to be abandoned.

As we know, there’s always the rotten apples in the barrel that spoil it for everyone else. And it wasn’t the only incident to happen last week. Another stand up promoter had his online stand up night wrecked in exactly the same fashion.

The upshot is that security will be much more stringent and that will hopefully keep the idiots at bay. We live in very strained times, what with the Covid 19 pandemic and race issues coming to the surface. Everyone is edgy and jittery and the pressure cooker is just about this side of blowing up completely. That’s why we need comedy to keep us smiling and in a good mood. Unfortunately, some don’t share those values.

I’ll take part in a future virtual night once I feel able to get the creative juices flowing and to enjoy the experience. Meanwhile, it’s good to feel a little better generally after a very difficult spell for me personally.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

A lockdown blog post….and how it’s impacted on my mental health

www.sane.org.uk/how_you_can_help/blogging/show_blog/2353

Would be delighted if you gave this a read….

Ian L. Fullbrook

Mental Health Awareness Week

This current week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the image above reflects the fact that not enough attention has been paid to the mental health of us all during these very tough times.

Certainly, I’ve been struggling over the last two months, with the correlation between mental and physical health never more striking. I’ve had copious amounts of headaches, an attack of vertigo at the weekend and more than a fair share of really gloomy days.

So we all need to seek help. The mental health system in the UK may well start to get overwhelmed with people wanting to express how they feel in this extraordinary situation. Now with the slight easing of restrictions, those of us who have been cooped up can now at least spend some longer time out of doors and the weather is staying remarkably good here in the UK too. So it might be some time to do a spot of sunbathing and to get some much needed fresh air.

Normally, I would be talking about the stand up comedy world but I’ve been out of action like most of my colleagues for the last two months. I’ve been occasionally impersonating the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on video and putting that online. I’m itching to get back on stage and try out a few more comedy ideas. Got some ideas lined up and I hope to inflict those on unsuspecting audiences when we return to action.

As ever, stay safe and get that help if you’re struggling.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook

We’re with you Boris!!!

Normally this site is for levity and a bit of humour. As you all know, before the shutdown, I was doing some stand up comedy that mainly centred around mimicking the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson.

Well this Coronavirus has impacted everyone, either with their physical health or their mental health. Now this ghastly situation has struck at the heart of the British Government. Boris himself is now in intensive care in a London hospital, battling away trying to fight off this illness.

To say I was in bits last night was an understatement. I’m no fan of Boris or his policies, but I’ve been impressed by his calm handling of this crisis. No bumbling around or bombast, it was plain speaking telling us all to look after ourselves and others. Now he has fallen ill, I was recoiling in horror at the awful possibilities that lay ahead.

I would be saying the same irrespective of who is in charge of the UK at the moment. No one wants to see anyone suffering and when it is the No.1 person in the UK who has been afflicted, everyone does the good British thing of which I’m proud today, being supportive of others in crisis.

I want him to pull through so I can continue to take the piss out of him at every opportunity, once this crisis has been resolved. It’s one of the gravest moments in the history of the world, let alone the UK, and everyone has been impacted, and I mean everyone.

So for the time being, I want to wish the Prime Minister a full and speedy return to health and to continue the fight against this appalling illness. Whatever your political persuasion, I’m sure you will agree. And I have no truck with people who wish ill fortune on others because of their political ideologies. This is no time for petty point scoring. It’s a time for rallying round each other and to pull each other through this. Boy, it’s been tough, and I’ve been struggling to cope with it all, as have some of my friends.

So, Boris Johnson, get well soon, from all of us, to you.

Stay safe everyone.

Ian L. Fullbrook

Off the cuff…

I had to do an awful lot of preparation for my debut the other week. But there are other opportunities to do things off the cuff, without any prep at all.

Last night was a case in point. I attended an AGM for one of the mental health charities I volunteer at. There were lots of presentations on the stuff we do and they were all very well received. The audience numbered about 40 or so.

My supervisor asked me last week to attend and to do my “Boris Johnson” impersonation as a surprise at the AGM. I kept a vow of silence as well as most of my colleagues. But this added an interesting challenge. How would I react to doing this off the cuff and make it interesting?

After about 50 minutes, it was my turn. I hid behind a partition and put on the wig. Out I came, and it went very well indeed, in point of fact. The audience enjoyed it and this new venture has imbued me with some confidence I didn’t believe I had. I was in the zone and the laughter and applause was indicative of the enjoyment. Great buzz once again.

Feedback was very positive and lots of people came up to congratulate me. “Why aren’t you on the TV?”said one gentleman. Cripes. That would be stretching the realms of fantasy a bit far. But it went well, the voice, the mannerisms and the material. One of my colleagues said the impression was “scarily impressive”! I’m not used to all this praise. What is happening?!

Onwards and upwards…..another of my colleagues remarked me to the other day “Who knows where you could go with this?” I’m not sure and will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. Going to take this carefully, but believe me, this has done wonders for my confidence and well being, which take a hit every now and again. On an upward curve, and I’m enjoying it.

Yours in comedy,

Ian L. Fullbrook

Watching, listening and learning….

The other night I accompanied someone to a local stand up comedy gig. He’s quite experienced and wanted me to come along so I could get a feel of a gig as an audience member.

I’m also picking up terms along the way. For example, a bringer. A bringer is an act who brings someone with them to sit in the audience. If there are 15 acts on the bill, that would be an audience of 30 or more. Learning all the time.

The chap I went with kindly gave me my debut the other week, and we get on very well, talking about ideas and the comedy scene in general. He was performing about a third of the way through this particular evening.

The venue was a small building in an arch under a main road. Intimate but with a crackling atmosphere. We sat at the front so we could get a perfect view of the performers. The compere is a top bloke. Witty, slick and blunt, that perfect combination made for a fun evening, in more ways than one.

The theme of the evening was humour that may offend. Now I’m fairly broad minded when it comes to comedy. I can laugh at stuff that is offensive and funny, and all the acts bar one were excellent. I noted their delivery, their confidence and the fact the audience loved their performances.

As always in life, there are exceptions, and regrettably, there was an incident where one of the acts decided to overstep the mark by quite a way. Offensive and unfunny, very definitely.

The compere was very apologetic and reasonable with the act concerned, even offering an olive branch to the act. But the act decided to behave rather unpleasantly when challenged, and was asked to leave. The room was rather shocked and the compere had to get things going again, which he did in a very professional manner.

How did my mate do? Absolutely fine. His “set” was well delivered, punchy and funny, all that you would require. I learnt quite a lot from the evening, on how to perform and how not to perform. Certainly I wouldn’t advise the latter on anyone starting out.

All in all, a very eye opening experience, and there may be an opportunity for me to perform at this venue, at some point. I say maybe. Nothing is ever certain of course, and I’m taking this new venture in careful steps. One thing at a time, time is no object. I’m just loving and enjoying the experience so far.

Yours in comedy

Ian L. Fullbrook