Thought Vomit #171: ft. A Kick Up The Arse

I’ve been looking for this for a while now, and I would usually file it under e.phemera (which is where I put things that I like and want to be able to find again easily), but it’s inspired enough memories to write a short blog.

It’s called Stand Up With Alan Davis, and it follows him on his 1999 UK tour as he interviews a number of comedians about their craft. This is the first part of part one:

If my memory is not deceiving me, this was broadcast some time in late 2000, and it is the thing that gave me the final kick up the arse to become a stand up comedian.

Having watched it, I bought a few books, including Zen and the Art of Stand Up Comedy, Successful Stand Up Comedy, and How To Be A Working Comic. In fact, I recently realised that these were the first books I ever bought from Amazon, way back when it looked like this:

Amazon Old Skool

This is actually what it looked like in 1995, but shh.

Having read them, and bookmarked loads of pages (I found them the other day and was amazed that I hadn’t picked them up since), I got on the Web and tried to find somewhere local to do my first gig.

Luckily, Virginmirth were Bristol based – back then it was organisation that was there to help new and newer acts hone their act and do some gigs. So I emailed them asking for more details about how to book my first gig. I got a single sentence reply saying “You’ve been booked for a spot on March 17th …” with the rest giving the venue name and time.

Blimey. I didn’t know what to say or do, so I spent the next few weeks putting my set together and rehearsing it in my bedroom. Never do this, unless you root yourself to the spot and stare at yourself in the mirror, or you’ll do what I did and pace from side to side out of habit (and nerves).

I didn’t tell anyone I had my first gig booked. Not even my driving instructor, which is why he booked me in for my driving test on the morning of the gig. Well, if I was going to be nervous all day, I might as well be nervous for that too.

I failed.

I got to the gig and watched the small room above the pub fill up with people and acts. I decided, foolishly, to open with a brand new joke about failing my driving test. I fluffed it. Badly. I started pacing from side to side, not looking at the audience, swallowing back the hoarse dryness in my throat. But I pushed on, and started with the set I had practised. The first joke got a big laugh (it may have only been a titter, but to my rookie ears it was a big laugh, and a huge relief after the silence of the fluffed line). I don’t remember much after that, but I came off feeling exhilarated and desperate to do more.

I got chatting to a man who soon became the most influential and supportive comedian I’d meet – Mark Olver – who immediately offered me a second gig at his new night the following week. He gave me the opportunities over the next few years to try out new material on a regular basis, which did me no end of good.

Anyway, that’s how it was at the beginning, there’s more to tell, but for now, this is the documentary that finally moved me from thinking about doing stand up to actually getting up and doing it.

Thought Vomit #111: ft. Blue Socks

I went shopping for socks. It’s not the most romantic use of my time I know, but I needed some socks, so I thought the best way to procure some socks would be to go to an establishment that traded socks in exchange for monetary recompense. The way I saw it, my feet were cold, and the best way to combat this decline in pedal temperature, would be to own some kind of tight fitting cotton sheath, shaped like my foot. After some research, I discovered that such things did exist. These things are called socks.

Now, this posed me a dilemma that I could not readily rectify. My feet were cold, it was cold outside, going outside would make my feet more cold, but to stop my feet being cold I had to go out into the cold with my cold feet. If only I had some socks.

In desperation, I turned out my drawers in search of socks, and to my chagrin, all I could find was a matching pair of tubular shaped blue cotton material with a kind of dog leg in them. At one end of these odd floppy devices was an elasticated band, at the other end, they were sealed into what can only be described as a toe-like finale.

These are not my legs

These are not my legs

This being the best I could do, I began wrapping these things around and round my cold feet, and to my surprise, their coiled cotton contours did provide me with some kind of warm respite. The only trouble now was, I couldn’t actually get my feet into my shoes.

Thus I faced a second dilemma that I could not readily rectify. My feet were warm, but the ground outside would hurt my warm feet without some kind of rubber soled protection. If only I had bigger shoes.

But in order to get bigger shoes, I would have to go outside. And in order to go outside, I would need to remove the warm material protecting my cold feet from the cold outside. It seemed to me that what I needed was a more snug fitting cotton coating, contoured to the shape of my feet. If only I had some socks.

I made a rash decision. I tore the blue coiled material from my now warm feet, and pushed my naked podiatry into the confines of my normal sized shoes. That’s when I realised the foolhardiness of this action. The edge of my normal sized shoes was chaffing my ankle. What I needed was some kind of soft cushioned protection tightly bound to the shape of my ankle to prevent said ankle from being rubbed raw. If only I had some socks.

These are my legs

These are my legs

A moment of inspiration hit me hard in the teeth. I took the strange blue material I had rescued from my drawers, and jammed them down the side of my shoes, thus providing some padding against the skin incendiary chaffing. This did have the effect of rendering the shoes a little too tight to make walking comfortable. If only I had bigger shoes.

I stepped out into the cold and could feel the chill freezing my under-protected toes. An extra layer around my feet at this moment would have been enough to thwart this frosting. If only I had some socks.

I found myself wandering aimlessly through the commercial district of my town, thinking forlornly if I would ever find what I needed. And suddenly, there it was.

The … Sock … Shop.

Elated and breathless I staggered awkwardly across the threshold of the boutique, my senses bombarded with hundreds upon hundred of what can only be described … as socks.

Aimlessly grabbing armfuls of the bounteous booty, I lunged at the counter and tendered my purchase. It seemed an eternity as the bored cashier rang them through the scanner, each beep a mocking reminder of my sock free feet. Finally, she looked up and informed me of the cost. If only I had some money.

I’d left all my cash back home, tucked inside a sock.

* * *

What you’ve just wasted your time reading is a good example of how NOT to write stand up material. It’s overly verbose, not worth the journey, lacking in the funnies and almost impossible to memorise.

What’s ridiculous is that I did write it as a piece of stand up, and even attempted to perform it once.  But in the telling of it, almost all of it got cut out live on stage, which left the bare bones and a sort of essence of it. I wrote it as a dare, after Iszi challenged me to write a bit about “Blue Socks”; an aribtrary phrase she pulled out of her bottom. When she read it, she correctly stated it was a plethoric mound of dirge, which is why I went on stage and did it. I’m an idiot.

The final joke got a big laugh though, so I somehow win.