That makes me sound like a right tool.
Anyway, sod it. Just noticed the date, and realised it is a year to the day that I did my first stand up comedy gig, and the Verve Comedy Cellar in Leeds, and so I thought I would quickly reflect and give thanks. Like a religious mirror.
I can’t begin to express how many times I went for a poo in the days leading up to it. I would find myself going about my day, suddenly realise I was going to try stand up in three days, and instantly need a bizz. Instabizz, if you will. So, so many poos. Dozens. Sudocrem was needed. I nearly lost a lung. I’ve never had a more active sphincter. I think I’d made my point. But I was genuinely petrified. The day came, and I took the wife; she would be the first to tell me if I was shit, I could trust her opinion 100%. I’m sure if our kids ever proffer an interest in auditioning for X-Factor, she’ll be the first to tell them how useless they are. Kids need a good grounding. Any road, she said I was pretty good, and there were a couple of other people there that night that also said it was good as a first go. It was a very supportive crowd, and it is a little gem of a place, and the people that run it are bloody lovely. It was quite a rush, and I loved it.
Bursting with confidence, I signed up to do a gong show at the last minute, had an hour to get to Sheffield. A month had passed since my first gig. Could I drive and remember everything I said then?
Could I bollocks. I made a right twat of myself. Gonged off after a couple of minutes. Arsehole. Felt like a right bellend all the way home. I actually started out by asking the crowd if someone would take my picture because it was only my second gig and I didn’t have a photo of the first. Can’t actually believe I said that. Still surprised no-one shouted “I’m not Ansel Adams, dipshit, tell some jokes”. Lesson learned.
Gig 3 after a bit of a break to revive my shattered confidence; back at the Verve. Confidence restored. Lovely. Gig 4, a gong in Bradford, and gonged off ten seconds from the 5 minutes needed. BASTARDS. Then came gig 5, and my first performance with professionals, a brilliant venue in Tyldesley where all the other acts were so supportive and welcoming I was more than a bit humbled. I was probably older than the lot of them, but they were all far more experienced, and their support was wonderful. That was my first gig where pre gig poo rituals were discussed, and it made me feel a whole lot better.
My nerves were quickly shot to pieces just a week later though when I arrived at Hot Water Comedy in Liverpool (go if you can, it’s brilliant) for gig 6 and met the MC. “Busy room mate, have a look”. I peered round the door to see a room packed to the hilt. 80 odd people, pissed up on a bank holiday weekend in August. “Fantastic” I said “now where’s your toilet?”.
I’m fairly sure there was still a baby turtle breathing heavily in my shorts when I went on stage. 160 Scouse eyes staring at you expecting you to be funny is quite a feeling. I love Liverpool, it’s a great city, but Scousers are naturally funny, it’s in their genes, they like a laugh. One of my best mates is from Liverpool. When I told him I was gigging in Liverpool, he just laughed and said “good luck”, I was terrified. But it was brilliant. The venue is brilliant, the organisers are too, and the MC is hilarious and made my turtle feel as comfortable as possible with some encouraging words. Some of the audience shook my hand, told me I was great, and that was that, I was sold: I’m going to carry on.
After that, it’s been a blur. Made the final of Comedy Hat, where I met Billy Pearce, an utterly lovely bloke. Been honoured to do a spot at a wedding, met some fantastic people, seen some hilarious acts, and had my friends and family come see me act the tit. It’s been great.
So many thanks to the people that have helped encourage me, friends, family and other acts, it is genuinely appreciated, but also to the people on Twitter, a select few who encouraged me to do this, and have regularly retweeted me for some time. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough.
And finally the missus, who hasn’t once whinged about me going to all these gigs, and getting hand jobs from fans. So what if they’re drunk blokes, still counts.
That’s quite enough now Howard. You haven’t won an Oscar you cock.