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It’s been another difficult spell for me mentally, so a consequence of that is that I’ve withdrawn temporarily from the stand up comedy world.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

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

World Mental Health Day….Saturday 10th October 2020

www.instagram.com/tv/CGKFp4RHgGU/

It’s important in this quite extraordinary year, to talk about mental health and to help each other. I’ve asked two of my friends, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, to speak to the nation regarding this great event.

Remember to make that first step and talk to someone, be it a friend, family member or a professional. No one should suffer in silence.

Yours in comedy and mental health,

Ian L. Fullbrook

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

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

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

Time to speak up….

Everyone has a story. Everyone should be heard. Let’s talk about mental health on World Mental Health Day 2019. Wherever you are, let’s help each other.

A.S.D Brooks

Calmness amongst the turbulence…

Turbulent day weather wise here in London. Lashing rain showers, angry dark skies and a cold, strong wind. Autumn is here folks! While standing at the bus stop watching the leaves being blown about in various directions, I thought it was time to reflect.

Reflect on the turbulence that has tried to throw me completely off course in 2019. But here I still am, despite that. In the last month, I have felt much better and calmer, more relaxed and enjoying life again. I’ve had a great and revitalising holiday. I’ve enjoyed my volunteering stints and being involved once again with spreading the word on mental health. I’ve enjoyed the end of the cricket season, especially watching Essex, my home county, winning the County Championship and the T20 competitions in the space of a week.

It was good to see my CBT counsellor today and explained why I feel so different. Then I went out and about, in the not so glorious weather, bought a book and a warm jumper for winter and then had a bite of lunch.

I feel so good that I am really looking forward to umpiring indoor cricket tomorrow morning. I haven’t umpired indoors for a few years now but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think back to that day on Praia Da Oura beach in Portugal when all the upset and stress ebbed away and into the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Amazing difference in that space of time.

Yep, looking forward to having a good and productive winter where I can get back to doing the things I enjoy, and that I can ignore the darkness and the cold of the season. It won’t be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge.

A.S.D Brooks

Eyes down…..look in

Bingo night tonight. I haven’t played bingo for about 10 years, and I went with a group of colleagues from one of the places I volunteer at.

I do enjoy a game of bingo but it’s all changed since I last went. It’s all mainly computerised now. You pick up a tablet/IPad, enter your details and then you just watch your card being filled in automatically. If you win, you press the “Claim” button or shout “House” to get your prize.

Most of us won some money, including me! I had to call the Securicor van to collect my winnings, which totalled £3.35. Happy days…..typical of my luck that I should share the prize of £10 with two other people.

Lots of laughs and and lots of puzzled faces on how to operate the tablet/IPad. The games come thick and fast and it’s a world away from the pieces of paper and a felt tip pen to scratch off the numbers. Gambling, 2019 style. Can’t afford to nod off for a second as the games fly by. Good evening though and I’ll certainly return on the odd occasion.

One of the prizes was a Thomas Cook holiday….oh sorry, too late. I’ll make do with £3.35.

A.S.D Brooks