Silky and Alistair
were fabulous tonight, as I knew they would be. Given that I owe Silky a great deal for setting me out on the comedy road, it’s a major relief that he is genuinely one of my very favourite comics. How ghastly it would be if he was SHHHHHIT. I try to make myself get offended by Alistair’s political rants, and the bugger always goes and spoils it all by being funny.
The chaps were magnificent in the face of having no amplifier for ten minutes too. Silky always looks utterly at home on stage, which is not to say he voids his bowels or falls asleep on it. (I suppose he might conceivably do the former without us knowing.)
I was really fed up about comedy today, even though it was a lovely Sunday - spent as it was with Paul, Silvia, Penny, Martin, Jamie, Oliver, Pep, Joyce, Richard and Julia (these are friends with whom I went to lunch and ten pin bowling; I wasn’t on some orgiastic rollercoaster ride). I just haven’t felt comfortable about my comedy in recent weeks – I can’t get that bloody balance between preparation and spontaneity right.
At recent gigs I’ve done a really good opening three minutes (often with quite a lot of ad libbing), then trudged through some material whilst forgetting all my other stuff. This state of affairs has come, I think, from drilling what was supposed to be the stuff for that night into my brain. Yet even the material I’d planned to use hasn’t been fully on tap. Simply put, I have locked my brain.
I won’t go on about this – I’ve already written about it too much, and the time has come for truly decisive action. Tomorrow night (now tonight) at the Free Beer Show is the time.
I am compering, which is the perfect opportunity to ad lib. I think I might just risk it on one turn of pitch and toss, and get myself in a Zen mood. I'll just go on stage with a big grin, and see what happens.
That is MUCH the way I WANT to do it (well crafted sets are a joy to behold, but for me the greater pleasure is to be spontaneous). I can still use material that I have written in the past, but I HOPE that it will be more organic. My mind has frozen on stage when I've tried to remember the order and content of my set, and I've resorted to my oldest stuff, which I hate doing. I hope that if I'm more Zen, ALL my material will potentially be at my disposal, but that I can ad lib too.
Michael Beloff QC once told me and some fellow debaters that we all talked too fast – ‘some of you speak too fast, and some of you speak far too fast’. I need to heed that advice on stage. There’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to think. If you have the crowd, you won’t lose them by pausing for breath. (I hope.)
So, like Luke Skywalker in the original (and possibly the best) Star Wars
, I will listen to Ben Obi Wan Kenobi, take my hands off the X Wing fighter controls and use the Force to guide me. Luke destroyed the Death Star, hopefully I will hit the comedy bullseye again and again.
PLEASE wish me luck! Even you Cumbus; I don’t want to go down in flames. Can I be Luke please?