My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman
Notes on your set
Why Pissing off a Fellow Comedian was Fun
Can I Just Say That iPads are Lame
The Honest Truth
It's amazing the crap people read
SEO Spam Fun
The Necessary Bubble
Arguing with spammers
Notes on your set
I've been helping some non-comedians make stand-up sets recently. Here are some random notes that came up. They are probably good advice to anyone doing a stand-up set:
- Show us how you feel about it
- Are you telling us the punchline before you then explain it?
- Can you make that bigger?
- We've all heard a joke shaped like that, can you find another angle on it?
- If that really happened, what would it be like?
- Make a more detailed comparison between this subject and the other one
- Choose the words more carefully to avoid appearing to punch down
- You've drawn us a big picture there - what else would fit those details? Compare it to that.
- Why are you taking the time to tell us this bit?
- What's the narrative arc? Can you bring it together?
- Why don't you wrap it up by referring back to that previous joke?
- That's a pregnant phrase - try coming up with several punchlines for it and choosing your favourite.
- There's a bit of a song that goes like that phrase
- Just take a moment to reflect on what you just said and give us a reality check
- Very technical, why don't you make a joke around how the technical term is "something vulgar"
- That might be funny if you accuse someone in the audience of thinking it
There may be wisdom lurking in the above. Maybe not.
Why Pissing off a Fellow Comedian was Fun
A couple of weeks back, I got a notification via Facebook that there was a reply to a comment I'd made on someone's post. When I went to read that reply, I didn't have the right to see the post. It turned out that I also didn't have the right to see the comedian in question's profile anymore. BLOCKED! Wow!
This is not a big deal. It's really not important to be connected with every comedian under the sun, whether we've gigged together or not. I can't say that the individual is someone I particularly like or respect; I'd been finding him intolerably brash on Facebook, and he probably felt it, even though I kept my comments fairly jovial, and I'm glad not to be reading of his constant dick-swinging any more.
It's interesting, though. It turns out that some folks, who see themselves as deeply righteous and good people, cannot take a tiny bit of gentle piss-taking without their egos exploding. In the case of certain individuals, I kind of get that. I known one comedian who is so out there and outspoken, that the majority of things she reads about herself are from embittered anti-feminists or anti-atheists attacking her because it helps them deal with their own inadequacy. In this case, though, a white alpha-male sort, I would have expected a little more capability to take some light ribbing.
I'll not name the comedian, except to say he's an Australian with a grand sense of self.
The two episodes which provoked me to poke a tiny pin in his bubble were thus.
He'd done a show somewhere and someone came up to him after the show and told him an insensitive, racist joke. The right way to deal with this, in my opinion, is either to ignore it, or to say "that sucks" and then move on. According to this person's own post, he gave the fellow a 40 minute tirade, worthy of the closing act on an outrageous bill, tearing so many strips off him, that he would have won a medal in strip tearing offing.
My comment to this post:
"You're no shrinking violet"
I thought that was rather amusing, given the brash dickish behaviour this guy was boasting of.
Latterly he posted about how he was sick of being taken advantage off and that he felt the more he did for people the less he was respected for it. This from someone who dealt with a pay dispute with a club by bitching about it on Facebook, rather than negotiating pay terms with the club directly - a club who are trying to negotiate. I won't say the club's in the right or wrong, but perhaps someone who uses Facebook to air their contractual stuff is hardly a meek hard-done-to trying-to-please-everyone type.
"You're like a modern day Jesus"
His response was something like
"Go suck my dick you fucktard"
"Sorry, you're not Jesus. You're much too sweary"
It's really childish banter. It got me blocked.
I hope it's amusing to read about. It sort of still tickles me. Especially since other social media platforms are trying to get us to connect. I can't connect with him - he'll only see it as an attack on his huge, yet fragile, ego.
If you can guess who this bellend is, please get in touch. Ten points to anyone else who can take more piss out of him. I suspect he's actually a bully who justifies his behaviour because he claims to uphold socially just viewpoints.
Can I Just Say That iPads are Lame
That's not really the theme of this post, which I'm writing on the iPad I bought about a year ago. I'm also sorry to admit that we are now a two iPad family, having switched the Windows tablet for one a few days back too...
... They're great until you try to do something off the beaten track with them. I wanted to use a cheap bit of sound cue software. I wanted it to appear in the new side panel, but you can't do that with many apps. I wanted to get the sounds onto it from my Dropbox: I can play those sounds on the iPad, so surely I can save them in its memory and get them to be importable by the sound cue software? Not on your nelly.
iOS seems to sandbox every application so you can't really share files between them. There may be workarounds, but they involve using the computer to move things between apps using the godawful iTunes software. This is basically retarded. Computer file systems have been around since the 60s... Why can't my iPad have one?
On my android phone, a free equivalent piece of software was able to do the job in no time, having access to the random download folder that my files happen to have wandered into. Easy!
I digress before I've started, though. I guess these sorts of minor trials and tribulations are the theme of today, but this particular challenge was resolved on Friday.
Today's news is that I'm home having performed at my second Leicester comedy festival. The first was 2009's with mine and Hannah's show the Seven Deadly Jokes. Today I was at the same venue, which was really different to how I remember it. I don't think it has moved, I just thing I remember it wrong.
Putting this show together has been the wake up call my set and material needed, but it has been at a significant cost to my stress and sanity levels. And those of those around me.
Last night I did two run throughs of the final edited script. I was going to perform with notes on the stage, but those notes were more of a diagram of the order of the material with a few clues about its internal contents, which I didn't need to look at in the end, since writing the map basically committed a lot of the detail to memory.
Doing two hour long performances back to back is quite exhausting, especially with a tech setup before and after. Given I've been running on fumes anyway, this was even more draining. However, I was able to get through the show without mishap both times and got a good recording down, which I could use for passive rehearsal - i.e. listening to it back and giving myself notes.
This morning went wrong. My daughter's swimming lesson was threatened by the fact that I realised I had left the house without a swim nappy for her. I should have turned back. I realise that now. I took the double or quits strategy of trying to get one at the other end. I went to three shops, with my little girl running round after me like a micro challenge Anneka, and eventually got her the appropriate swim protection. She then had a third of a swimming lesson before it was time to get back out, so late were we running. Some might have aborted the whole mission, but she was so committed to the swim nappy search, and I was telling her about how to cope with a problem, which is either ignore it, live with it, or fix it... Basically we'd decided to fix the problem, so we were committed.
A quick lunch at home and it was time for me to go to Leicester. This resulted in:
Watching 2 shows before mine. Very good.
Doing my show... Hmmm...
Getting the student radio crew who had come to interview me to help me back to the car... Clever!
Doing the interview... Me blethering long answers to familiar questions.
Going off to watch my favourite Fringe act do a greatest hits show... I would have laughed harder, but was too tired and sore.
Not a bad score for a nearly 42 year old on a Sunday afternoon and evening. The comedy festival even tried to banjax things by taking tickets off sale the evening before the show... This somewhat invalidated the two for one offer they then promoted today. Despite this some people came and some of them even laughed.
I will watch the video later on. For now, I can say that I did a new show. I don't know what I think of it, but it went better than the swimming, and worked well with sound cues courtesy of Android.
The iPad's invite was revoked. It was replaced by a side of A5.
The Honest Truth
Firstly, DO come to see my new show. I think it will be pretty funny, interesting and diverting. Rehearsing it makes time go all funny... In a good way.
To be honest, though, this has been a really weird process. In an ideal world, I'd be working this hard over more months at an average rate, rather than having to sort it out at the last minute on an essay crisis style deadline. I know the creative process often works this way, but it has been a total baptism of fire at each point where I have moved the show forward.
In January I did new material nights and tried out bits and bobs that I'd half written with the show in mind. So few tryout nights meant I had to extrapolate what the end result ought to be, and I Hadley.e room to cut things. I also snuck some newer bits into sets and MCing gigs... Which worked...
The big question for me was how much of this stuff would end up in the final show and how it would be sandwiched between older material and linking sentences to turn the whole think into a single piece.
Today I ran through various versions of the show a few times. I found I learned it best by not learning it or having the script in front of me. I just fathomed it out. New songs, new bits... New all sorts.
I think my last cuts have brought it down to a 50 minute running time, but I can't be sure. It ran an hour in my last run through. Too long...
I have had a weird day. Equipment and techniques I've not used since before my children were born have been my sole focus. I have spontaneously invented bits and made script decisions, because there is no time to think twice. It has been exhausting but fulfilling...
... And I have a rotten cold and am over tired.
This will be an odd weekend.
Leicester Comedy Festival: 6pm, Sunday 7th Feb 2016. Who Wrote This Shit?
In a hurry.
You've got to love the anti-feminists. By love, I mean smother. Of course.
The anti-feminists have an impossible argument. Feminism in its simplest form is the idea that the opportunity for a woman should be equal to that of a man. How that equality is achieved, and how things are presently unequal is something which may be a matter of opinion, but fundamentally, it's not a difficult concept to grasp.
By the way, I'm mansplaining here, but this article is not for reading. Sorry, didn't I mention that. This is an exercise in thinking. Feel free to ignore.
For the anti-feminist to "win", they have to demonstrate either that:
- Women are innately inferior - that's only provable using specific pairings, and it's completely unscientific - like comparing whether taking two aspirin is more effective than two marbles
- The current tradition is in some way sacred - bring in the holy men, who want their god to protect their boy's club
- All feminists are out to get them
Bizarrely, it's this last argument which becomes self-fulfilling, as these often aggressively insecure little men send so much hatred in the direction of their feminist foe - or foeminists - that they end up receiving plenty of it back, thus completing the cycle. I don't know the cure, though perhaps it's similar to what I once heard about someone who was cured of his belief in scientology because he ended up having a lot of sex with a Croatian woman. Perhaps that's what feminism needs - just sacrifice Croatia and you can have the world.
As a man who considers himself pro feminist, I can't always say that I agree with all individual feminist people's views. There's a very carefully constructed sentence! I don't think I'm supposed to agree with every person's view though. That would be as bad as automatically disagreeing with all their views because of who they are.
In some cases, I don't see the cause/effect the way its portrayed - for example, I don't have the same reaction to sexual imagery as some people I've encountered, and I think the power of that varies dependent on culture.
In some cases, I think there's an instinctive defensive reaction to being told that I'm in a position of power as a man, and that what me and my kind need is to back down in some way or another. The reason I can't comprehend that is that I don't feel especially empowered. I don't feel like Simba, the Lion King, set to inherit a great Kingdom, master of all I survey. Everywhere I look, I see people who may be doing worse, the same, or better than I am. So where's that so called advantage I'm supposed to have?
The answer is that, pound for pound, I may be better off that other people whom I can't see, and I have to rely on the statistics to tell the true story. Moreover, I can't use something relative to determine an absolute.
And this is the problem. Overall empowerment of a gender does not happen at the cost of disempowering another... well, it depends on what the power is. If the power is "mastery over all the bitches" then yes, empowering women will reduce that power. If the power is "I'm quite good at baking" then my baking skills are the same regardless of the existence of other bakers. You don't have to pull the ladder up, once you've reached a height - there's room for everyone up there.
Sure, the sense of accusation against my entire gender rankles a little, but we all need to challenge our own behaviour and expectations a little and perhaps there is a complacency you get from things always being so good. I'm awash with first world problems which would make people from poorer countries or even the past consider me to be a total prick. I get cross when my phone doesn't pick up 4G - to people of the past, I've got a magic light pebble, why am I being so goddamned ungrateful?
Where I can kind of relate to the anti-fems a bit is on the subject of male identity. Perhaps in the past one's culture as a man was expected to follow a certain template. I'm not sure I've ever followed that template myself, but I think there was one. I knew I didn't follow that template when people would say "Which team?" "I'm not on any team." "No, which football team do you support?" "I don't support a football team." "Ah, of course. Rugby. I should have known considering the size of you." "No, I'm not into sport. I like computers.". Crass though it may have been, male identity kind of used to work that way.You had a football team, you had a particular alcohol you drank, you never talked about your feelings and you'd try to suppress your baser instincts until you died.
Nowadays the big things that men used to pride themselves on, like ogling women, wearing sturdy but unattractive clothing, and using the term "whoooarh" a lot (it's an expression of either shared lust - look at her, whooarh - or of triumph - the lads won - whoooarh - or of a wistful desire to be a pirate) - those big things are not de-rigeur any more. Men have had to wake up to the possibility that there's more to life than being a man.
The last thing a man wants to do is work out how to have depth. There's no time, in between the ogling, the functional dressing and the whooaring.
The fact that for the first time ever, the James Bond film had a song where the man wasn't the alpha is a clue to this cultural shift. Normally Bond themes are a veiled or direct reference to the sheer might of a man. Either it's a women singing about her desire for a man, or a metaphor for a man (like a diamond, which is basically a penis, but a penis with a hardness measured on the Moh scale), or being ditched by a man, or it's a man, usually Tom Jones, singing about how great a man is. The most recent Bond Film had the plaintive crying of a man boy admitting that he's powerless without a woman.
That's a big change.
The supermen are questioning their powerbase.
... except they're not really because these sorts of things will require a lot more soul searching to hit the real world, but the influences are coming.
And young men these days have a dilemma of their own. How do they express their manhood? What's the badge you wear to show you're male and yet not a rapist?
Facial hair has been taking one for the team. It used to be that a man was either clean shaven or occasionally bearded, except in the seventies where everyone was very heavily bearded, which they used to absorb the smoke from their constant smoking. This fashion died out after the Yorkshire Ripper, a bearded man, was apprehended in the 1980's as it was felt that facial hair could, in some extreme circumstances, lead to prostitute murder.
But now bearded is back. You can be a non-rapist beardy if you use product. You can create a whole facial topiary all your own. Or you can use the new seven blade razor and have a shave so close that you'll panic every time you do it. At the rate that razors are gaining blades, by 2020, the average man will be applying 32768 blades to his face every morning, and a sneeze during shaving will be fatal.
There's even a template to follow. You grow a moustache for movember, because that reduces cancer up someone arse or something - I'm not sure if you're supposed to collect money too - then in December you add stubble to it, in a secret race with your friends to see who can claim to have a full Santa beard by the 25th. Then in January, you make it your new year's resolution not to play with it all the same and to occasionally mop the soup out of it.
Before you know it you're Brian Blessed.
That's the problem. The male role models are a bit one note. A big powerful loud man with a broad chest and a ginormous beard. That's supposed to be what we're aiming at...
There's more in my head, but that's enough for now.
Just to be clear, this is not really a political or serious column - it's a writing exercise for me to gain maybe 1 minute's worth of thoughts on a subject that in here somewhere. What I need is jokes, not original thought!
It's amazing the crap people read
For what I'm going to do in the next post, I sort of apologise. Before I go there, here's a frightening statistic. I've be writing this blog for years - since January 1970 if a computer error is to be believed - impressive since I wasn't born until February 1974 - since October 2001 if the facts are to be trusted. That's over 15 years of this shit. Luckily we're not in a boom period where I write all day every day - I've got better things to do with my time. Until nowish.
Anyway, the frightening statistic is that this blog, with its 15 years of content and some 2645 posts - yeah - 2645 often lengthy essays on stuff, as opposed to the people who are impressed when they've wanked out (and that's the word for it) a few hundred tweets... I digress. This blog has had around 52,500 page views - at least since Google started measuring it, which is when I started knowing.
Another blog I wrote years ago, FOR ABOUT A WEEK
, with 100 or so posts on it, each of which was about a single website and was often no greater than a tweet, has had 60,000 hits. What I can conclude from this is that my best strategy for getting readers is not to write anything!?
If you want to join them, then head over to The World's Worst 100 Websites
but basically don't because it's rubbish and I warned you!
The art of blogging in today's world has changed. People really don't take time to read stuff any more. Maybe that's why my self-exploratory stuff gets ignored while a shopping list of some websites is still Google hit fodder. Who knows!?
For my next article, I shall write for purposes that are not entirely apparent.
I have been mulling and scribbling more than writing of late. I know what it takes to write something ostensibly finished and it is not mulling or scribbling. But all I have had time for is the most basic steps of the ideation phase... In other words, we are heading for a deadline without the necessary draft.
I thought of that and booked myself in some new material slots. These mean I have to do it. I have to have a thing, good or otherwise. That's exactly what I need!
So tonight has been a writing night. Nothing I've put down has come from thin air, but I've had to bring stuff up to performable, and have even recorded whispered demo versions of two new songs as my son slept in his cot in the next room. Electric guitars are quieter than acoustics if you don't plug them in!
I'd forgotten the way the writing process can go. It's even better in some respects if you started as I did with some lyrics I'd written a while ago with the ghost of a tune in my head, but no clear idea of whether it would even be consistent as a song. What happens next is awesome. You receive as a musician a half formed lyric and a half formed tune. You make something new. It's shaped by the starting point but it takes on a life of its own. The chords you're searching for, when they come, suggest doing something you didn't expect. The lyric reveals stresses and alternatives that were not there before. As the lyricist you then ponder if you can up your game, since the musician is clearly having a ball... Something happens and you end up with the song you thought you'd have but not in the way you thought it would be.
I made myself laugh tonight.
I just built things on top of each other.
Then I'll try them tomorrow and watch them fail!
SEO Spam Fun
I received a mail
Dear business owner of Ashleyfrieze.co.uk,
I would wish to take a couple of minutes from your schedule and enkindle your attention towards Internet marketing for Ashleyfrieze.co.uk.
We are proud to announce that we have just opened a new office for Search Engine Optimization (SEO,SMO,SEM). We are located at INDIA.
In relation to your profession as a business owner we would like to offer our services when you need one. Ever since our business was established we always had an image of being a dependable and reliable firm. It is our commitment that you can depend on us for our services.
-Low on-line presence for several competitive keyword phrases
-Unorganized social media accounts
-Not compatible with all mobile devices
-Many unhealthy backlinks to your web site
Our services have lots of advantages to our clients with which I can explain to you if you find time to reply us. We would really appreciate if you will try our services and I assure you that we offer good and quality service. Please reply us at your most convenient time.
If my proposal sound's attention-grabbing for your business goal, be happy to email us, or can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you.
PS I: I am not spamming. I have studied your website and believe I can help with your business promotion. If you still want us to not contact you, you can ignore this email or ask to remove and I will not contact again.
PS II: I found your website exploitation Google search and when having a glance over your web site i like to recommend you to implement future technologies like HTML5 and Responsive style to create your site additional accessible in movable, tablets, desktop etc.
I thought I'd have some fun with him. This is obviously spam and if he'd looked at my website for real, he'd know I wouldn't be interested.
What is your name?
This got a response. I would have given up then.
This is Rahul, from welltechseocom, search engine optimization company INDIA.
Can we have a little time to have a discussion about your website promotion?
We do all our work organic basis and we do 100% manual submission so that our client gets a permanent result.
See, the basic work we do is we promote websites in major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, and you know after Google the next famous and popular website in this global world is Facebook. we also promote in major social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, Flickr, Myspace etc.
Nice offer to put me on MySpace there. I thought I'd play some more.
What is your star sign?
He answered by playing hardball.
Are you interested on our SEO service or not?
That IS the question. But he needs this more than I do.
I will only answer that if you tell me your star sign. Or your date of birth.
So he does as he's told. Like a performing monkey.
My star sign is Leo and 24/08/1989.
Ooooh, not good enough monkey man.
Ah. That's going to be a problem. I can't work with Leo's. Is anyone else there of a different sign? Water sign preferably.
I don't know if he's now playing along, or is exasperated.
Thank you. I am not working for you. I am a sales guy. I have a technical guy which name was started the letter S.
Notice the slightly assertive offering of the first initial of the other person. He's taking the piss back... but if you're taking the piss, why are you still doing as I ask?
I need his star sign. Can you let me have it asap along with your pricing for 5 years of organic SEO. I especially need to know how much more impact to expect on my site's specific content.
Clue - read my site and you'll see I'm tugging your chain... are you going to do as I ask?
Please let me know that how many keywords you want to optimized?
He's getting tight-lipped, so time to increase the pressure... He still isn't acting like he's looked me up - I'm on the first page of google.
Aquarius? that's brilliant. My horoscope today said that someone might be telling me what I want to hear... are you being truthful with me? Can you prove your engineer really is aquarius?
How many keywords is normal for optimising? Which ones do you recommend?
I love the idea that keywords are something someone might offer you, like a random set of words to own. I'll be pursuing this point. I'm also portraying my horoscope-obsession to make me seem eccentric.
Thank you for reply.
I don't know much knowledge about this horoscope. I just give you details with name and date of birth you check it, (Santosh - 26/05/1988)
I want to give a suggestion that you start with 5 keywords. It's better for your website. If you want, then add more keywords in future.
Please let me know your budget per month for SEO?
He's doing as he's told. Good boy! Time to play more dumb
Great great great. These five keywords. How much do they cost each and do I get to choose them?
Trying to make him feel he's got the upper hand. He's definitely doing more of the work in this email conversation.
Yes, you can choose these keywords and send me.
To know more about our cost please visit us @ http://www.welltechseo.com/seo-pricing/
Awaiting for your positive reply.
He wants me to pay $400 for him to promote me. I didn't look this up back then, because my site IS the biggest hit for me, and it is about me, and... well you get the point.
How will I know if my keywords are available. I suppose I really need Ashley Frieze to be the top hit on Google. Can you make that happen? How hard would it be?
Big clue now. I've told him that I just want to be the top hit for me. You'd think he'd google me. I also act dumb as though I don't understand keywords and searching. Again, he's doing the work. Has he worked me out? If he had googled me, he'd see that of the two demographics of people who might waste an SEO person's time - comedian and IT geek, I'm in the middle of that Venn diagram!
Yes, you know it any time. If your keyword is once came to ranking than when you search a keyword in Google search box than it shows the result page. I can make it. If your keywords, competitor is high, then it takes some time to get ranking. To get ranking need to more back links to your website and manpower for this, but it is possible.
Ok... more direct... try to get him to google me...
How far is my site from getting top ranking for Ashley Frieze?
I am, after all, the top hit for me...
First of all we need to fix all the onsite errors of your website then make it Google friendly. I visited your website and looks like very old design.
If your keywords are very high competitor than it takes minimum 4 to 6 months to get ranking.
He hasn't visited my site. He wouldn't be wasting his time if he had.
Have you tried Googling for Ashley Frieze? What hits does my site get? How much would you charge to improve them?
That's me saying "Google me you dick". Either he's not bothered, or he did, but has no awareness of life!
This keyword Ashley Frieze shows on Google because this keyword is related to your website name. If your search, another keywords than Its not coming the ranking.
I will send you the link about our pricing and plan. Please check this link - http://www.welltechseo.com/seo-pricing/
If that's the case, then paying for SEO is pointless. In addition, he's probably wrong. Here's me again telling him to blow the game...
Search my name on Google and tell me if you want to continue this conversation.
You also search anyone's name on Google it shows on top of the result page. Name and keywords there is so much different in these two words.
So, If you really interested in our service, then let me know your decision?
Boy is he not taking a hint!? I got bored of being sold at in broken English by someone who doesn't know what he's talking about.
First rule of business: know your customer. From Google's front page, you should realise why I have been deliberately wasting your time. Any comments?
First rule of getting spam - if you can, deliberately waste their time for sport. In fairness, this guy stood his ground.
Thank you for reply.
Yes, I know what you want to say. When you ask me the price for 5 years that time I understood you.
Have a good day.
Good luck with your spamming.
The Necessary Bubble
One of the worst comments you can make about a comedian is to say they're deluded. I've sort of known why, and I've sort of just taken this on instinct. Those deluded fools who think they are doing well, when they're not, or who think they can do gigs that they can't... Nobody wants to be THAT guy.
Yet, the reason why this is so scathing is not that a rare few are deluded, but more that every comedian must, to some extent, deliberately fool themselves about how good they are. Stand up, on stage and off, is a confidence trick. You have to be more confident than you are, and then bluff your way into deserving it. The better you get, the less deluded you proved to be, but the higher you have to shoot.
Crystal clarity on your own limits, your real place in the comedy world, and where your ambitions ought to reach is the LAST thing you need when you're trying to muster up the bookings, material and responses to said material at said bookings.
The Fringe is a place where you can really inflate your bubble. Especially if you go out there, gig a lot and experiment a lot. It is also a place where you can see people doing things you cannot do.
In previous Fringes, I think I had a much bigger bubble, more optimism, more of a can do anything attitude. This Fringe I have been up and down. Kind of on purpose. I have done performances I can be pleased with, in context, I've done things which didn't work. Meh. I have seen shows and actually thought "I can't even imagine doing that" and seen other equally brilliant things and thought "yeah, I could do that if I bothered to".
This is dancing on the border of my necessary delusion. It's quite healthy and probably good for my prospects as a humble, but ambitious practitioner of the art and craft I so love.
Not having a show this year has changed my outlook. Gone was the venue envy and the competitive nature of the rat race that is a performer's Fringe. In its place is an admiration for what can be and how it might be achievable... Especially by people with talent!!!
Living with Disappointment
The life of a stand-up comedian or comedy writer... oh how I would love the life of one... yet to avoid it altogether would enable me to skip its indignities... yet to be living a life without that creative and something-or-other outlet drives me mad when I have too long between shows/events/things.
I'm resolved to do more of the things I love that make me me. The question right now is how. I'm not going to answer that question right now.
Instead, I'm going to dwell on the little indignities, the little ways that the payback for your efforts is a slap in the face with a wet fish. In so doing, I'm going to say how I feel about some events, recent and ancient. Before doing that, I need to set the context. I don't think I've been hard done by. I think the people I'm about to mention have been acting with the best of intentions and have actually been on my side. The focus of my disappointment is simply that I'm tasting what it might be like to maybe make an impression on achieving my dreams, while being left in absolutely no doubt that I'm nowhere near and not actually on the scale as far as they're concerned.
God this sounds depressing. I want to balance it out by being thankful, but let's tell the stories with me as the butt of the joke, because that's ok. It's perfectly fine to be a speck on a dot on the sphere you're trying to occupy, because so many people aren't even that. I'm just too aspirational sometimes, which leaves me disappointed by... well... reality!
Event number 1. I performed stand-up comedy at the Fringe one year, was noticed, and was given an award. How can that be bad?
On this particular year I'd thrown myself into the Fringe with my usual alacrity. I passed through many of the points of Edinburgh city simultaneously, and could be found in shows, in guest spots, and quite memorably performing on a bus. On the first gig they didn't even give me a mic stand, which made performing with a guitar on a moving vehicle a bit of a challenge.
I provided my mic stand for future shows and basically came up with a technique for playing, controlling the mic stand with my foot, leaning on a pole on the top deck of this bus, and kind of holding on with my arse on corners.
That was a year that some Fringe goers, who shall remain nameless, as they came and supported future shows, decided to hold an awards ceremony in which they decided, having seen my heroics on the bus and at other shows, to give me some sort of award for my... well... enthusiasm, tenacity, silliness and pragmatism simultaneously. I don't know wish.
I should have been, and was, flattered.
Couple of points. I wasn't invited to the awards ceremony. That's not the sort of award I win. Apparently. The award, when it arrived, was a word document. That's the sort of award I win. A word document with someone else's name on it. There you go. You're important, but not to the point of clerical effectiveness.
I found it funny at the time, but it kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
Event number 2. I'm really not having a go at anyone involved. These things happen. But it's the Sitcom Trials.
I think this is a very good event, and I've always wanted to write a sitcom for them. It seemed like the sort of thing I'd enjoy doing. The story should have gone like this. I should have come up with a mediocre or hair-brained idea (tick). I should have submitted it (tick). It should have faded into obscurity and I could have said - "Well, I've no idea what I'm doing, have I?". That would have been a fun game with no sense of expectation or loss.
I am quite competitive, so nothing's ever that simple.
Moreoever, the judging for the event is done via a Facebook group, so I got to read everyone's comments and opinions on my work and wonder whether to be exasperate that they either hadn't got the script, or, worse, that they had and had seen right through my rookie skills.
In the end mine was a script that few people really loved, few people really hated and a handful of people thought might be okayish... Mediocrity. That old friend.
In the end I made two shortlists. Huh!? It turns out that two groups decided mine was less hateful to them than other options or somesuch. I was asked by one of them to do some redrafting. I also had a bunch of feedback from the reviewer comments, which I could use to improve the script.
I made a fatal error. I really started to care. I also didn't realise that one group was actually definitely going to perform my script. I found out... well, on the day almost. They ended up performing my redraft, which I can say now, was the best version of that script I'd come up with.
So what's the problem? I couldn't attend, the event was videoed, the video didn't work, there's about 75 seconds, out of context, of the show, where there are no laughs (scripted that way), and I've only got stories of how it might have actually gone on the night. Nobody else wanted to perform it, and it didn't get reviewed, nor did it win the night... so I've got virtually nothing to show for my experience.
It's life turning these little triumphs into murmuring disappointments that shows me what I haven't really achieved. It turns out that a live performer such as myself can't really relate to tales of laughs that his jokes may or may not have got. I want to know how the gags went, what the characters really were like. In short I want to be shown that I was worth being the award winner who got their name right... (the name on the video for the night had my name incorrect on the caption too).
I like all the people I've mentioned in the above stories. They were on my side. The end result, though...
I don't mind. Really I don't. I have to laugh at myself more, and these events require just that.
Disappointment is my middle name.
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