The last time I performed stand up comedy before everything went upside down thanks to COVID-19 was 14th March in a social club in Barnsley. The venue and crowd were the epitome of the comedy circuit in the North - rough, rowdy and up for a right laugh. These are the type of gigs where the audience is made up of men in their 40's who look like they can put a caravan awning up in seconds and women who look like they can knock out anyone in half that time.
I had great fun that night and remember driving away from the gig laughing with my mate Lewis in the car about a woman (gobshite teacher who wouldn't stop talking) who after I'd left the stage ran and mounted the stage to then slut drop the mic stand. I can't tell you how much I miss that. Not the woman slut dropping but the world of comedy and being on stage.
Since this lockdown, I've tried to continue as much as normal by writing and developing material pretty much every day. However, when writing jokes half of the magic of developing it occurs on stage live in the moment when your brain goes into another gear and pulls punchlines out of thin air. The process of writing material has without an audience to share it with has been driving me nuts. Early one morning, in the first few weeks of the lockdown, as I drank coffee in the garden, a couple of magpies flew by and stood on one of the fence panels (a safe two-meter distance from me) and I just stared at them for ages. I caught myself mumbling a routine I'd written the day before. I only snapped out of it when one of them flew off, I figured the routine had legs but needed work.
The one good thing this lockdown has produced is an abundance of creativity from other comedians. It's clear it's not just me who's missed performing and to see the way they express their creativity has been enlightening. Jack Gleadow, a good mate of mine and someone I work with regularly on the circuit, has produced his own Saturday night style TV show called 'Jack's Night In' on YouTube. It’s a brilliant mix of comedy, sketches, guests and games - all from his own bedroom.
If lockdown hadn't been in place I'm not sure he would have developed this idea but creativity thrives under restrictions. It becomes playing with what you've got and that opens new doors. 'Jack's Night In' is such a simple idea - plus it's charmingly silly and during these times that can be a great relief. If you haven't seen it already defo check it out, you can find all the episodes so far here.
I know everyone has their own little ways to maintain their sanity during the lockdown. It would seem due to the empty shelves in our local shop for most people - its booze. I guess that's because they've completed Netflix for the second time. The way I've managed is by pouring myself into writing but not purely stand up, it's not quite the same at the moment plus the magpies haven't come back.
I've actually been developing a script for a comedy-drama which has been on the backburner for the past few years. The outline for the story is - Myles, a travel photographer and his estranged family come together to understand their complicated past and even more problematical future, for Myles, hasn’t told them one important detail: he’s going blind…
(I know sounds hilarious)
I’m not far from completing the script, having worked through a few drafts already. This restriction of the lockdown has forced me to really change my approach and focus but as a result, has allowed me to create something brand new and open doors for the future. Once the script is ready to go I'll be filming a short pilot - If you'd like to know more about this sign up to my mailing list HERE and I'll keep you posted.
Hopefully, we will be out the other end of this soon and life will return to normality where I'll be gigging again in Barnsley and woman are being thrown out for slut dropping on stage.
Until next time take it easy.