Stand up comedy is a funny business. I'm aware of the irony there. Sometimes it isn't funny at all. Mostly it involves a lot of travel, late at night, in car loads of sober, hungry, nervous, young blokes heading to gigs in the wild blue yonder of who knows where. Without satnav I would long since be lost to humankind. Swallowed up somewhere on the A14 to Cambridge or stranded in a service station just south of Liverpool. There's a glorious camaraderie in knowing absolutely nothing about the audience you are about to face. Will the gig be full? Empty? What will the stage be like? Will my shtick fit the room? Am I going to die onstage tonight? The answer to the last one is probably but you're going to get up there and give it a go.
It started a few years ago, I thought I'd put
all that time served on the radio to some use and feed my desperate urge to
perform, so I toddled along to a DMU community comedy course and put in some
hours. Since then I've been on quite a few stages, mostly in front of very
small audiences. It seems we, the people, want to be entertained and see new
comedians, we just don't want to leave the house to do it. Leicester has the biggest comedy
festival outside of Edinburgh. People come from all
over the country to see comedians in action, to find out who's hot and who's
not. Promoters will quietly tell you that most of the locals turn out for the
big TV names but the majority of the comedy festival audiences are from out of
I'd urge you to hire the babysitter and support any kind of live event locally. It's way more fun than watching Love Island. Proper Funny at the Criterion is the sort of comfy night out that can ease you into the scene. They serve pizza too!
Despite all the obvious downsides to it,
stand up is enjoying the kind of boom indie did in the 90s. Mostly young men
have decided it's a way to earn rock star levels of fame and fortune so anywhere
there is lighting and a mic you will find people trying to make others laugh.
It can be a terrifying thing, being alone on a stage with a microphone and a
group of people you have nothing in common with, but when it works, those
beautiful moments when people get it, get me, and laugh out loud. Well that is
where the addiction hides. Plus did I mention you get to visit every motorway
service station in the country?