Lighten up

It’s all very earnest around here at the moment, isn’t it? Which is funny, because I keep getting all these google searches ‘comedy edinburgh’ and ‘comedian librarian’ and so on. Goodness knows what they think when the land here.

Anyway, today two things happened. Firstly, I wrote two very good jokes (and I wasn’t even trying, I was supposed to be only doing what is in my script, but one of them appeared as I was cleaning my teeth and the other came out during ‘rehearsals’ – let’s assume here that ‘rehearsals’ can be defined as standing in your bedroom with the door closed, every now and then pulling the door open to surprise the two boys who are standing on the other side giggling and then say, ‘But Mum, how did you know we were here?’). They’re untested jokes, so maybe they aren’t as good as I think they are, but for now let’s just assume they’re brilliant. Secondly, Deborah shared a most excellent joke which did indeed crack my boys up.

What’s your favourite joke?

My mum would always crack up at the following:

Q. What’s the difference between a duck?

A. The space between it’s legs.

I have to say, I still don’t get.

Again, nothing of consequence

Who me? No, I haven’t gone anywhere, just madly writing an essay on the ethics of comedy. I know, take something that’s perfectly fun and theorise it to death, why don’t you. Funny thing is, I’ve also got a gig tonight, which is probably, for reasons I will explain when I’ve got more time, my last until Fringe next year. Don’t think I’ll worry about telling tonight’s punters (see how groovy I am, I call them punters) that I can, with reference to Kant, justify the use of my husband, my children and my dead parents to make said punters laugh.  And further, if said punters don’t laugh, maybe my use of family members it isn’t so justified.

Anyhooo, and still with the overthinking…

I am quite troubled by my chidren’s participation – via school – in the Premier’s Reading Challenge and the Healthy Lunchbox Challenge (can’t find any info about the South Australian one on the web, but google it and you’ll get the idea).

I totally get that schools need to encourage reading, healthy food and so on. I applaud creative efforts to encourage such activities and do not want to be pain in the arse PC parent who gets all uptight about everything. But you know what – reading and eating well should not be described as a challenge. Nor should they be turned into fucking competitions.

That is all.

In which she writes a post of more than 50 words

It is clear from the way I am wandering around both figuratively, metaphorically, virtually and literally that I need to debrief the Fringe. Perfect use for a blog, so please excuse me while I indulge (insert bloggers are narcissists quip).

Performing night after night for a couple of weeks, and sometimes twice in one night, I really did learn ‘a lot and a lot’ (as my Littlest Boy would say). Like more than I’ve learnt in such a concentrated time for many, many years.

My Dad rang one day to see how things were going and I said ‘well, Samela Harris saw me the first night and wrote that I was ‘desperately funny’, and then the second night we had close to full house and I hardly raised a laugh.’

‘Ha!’ (that’s a rather loud guffaw) ‘How good is that?’ he said.

‘erm…not at all?’ That’s a small and weary voice.

‘But there you go, doesn’t it show that you can’t always control it?’

Somewhere in there is the biggest lesson I learnt which meant that at last, I let it sink in and I was able to finally and properly let go of being afraid of going on stage. By the time of that conversation, I’d had a couple of really good sets, an okay one, and a not good one. Same set, same stage(s), different reactions. So, if I were going to go on, I may as well just enjoy myself, because that is the one thing in my control. And really, if I wasn’t going to enjoy it, why do it. With two boys and a beagle and everything else that is involved in getting through life, it’s so hard getting out of the house night after night with a finished, well-rehearsed set in your brain that there really is no point doing it if you’re not going to have fun.

So. I was still nervous. But all of sudden I wasn’t scared. I say ‘all of a sudden’ but obviously it’s taken eighteen months of various lessons in various ways to get to this point where I say I’m not scared and I’m really not.

One of the things contributing to my fear is the very big difference between publishing and standing-up your words. As I have said to the mister perhaps more than once, that when you publish something you are presenting it as you want it to be presented. When I see something that I’ve written in its published form, it is (more or less) how I wanted it to be (this is not to say that I can’t see where improvements could be made, but that’s a different thing). Of course, people will make of it what they will, but that doesn’t worry me either, because I know that I’ve presented it how I want it to be presented and I like that different people will react to it differently.

On stage, there are no such presentation guarantees. I rehearse and I prepare, but I might stumble over a crucial word, forget a joke, get distracted by the person behind the bar. The uncertainties are many, my jokes are few, I can’t afford mistakes.

However, having made the decision – in word and in fact – that I will not be afraid, that I will enjoy myself, things really started to happen. I could hear myself. I could hear the audience. I could hear the words do their work. It was fun. And it was one of those things, the more fun it was, the more fun I had, the more fun it was and so on.

I also really came to terms with the fact that not everyone will think I’m funny. I already knew this in my brain, but now I know it in all other ways too. If people don’t laugh, it means they don’t think I’m funny. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that if they don’t think I’m funny then I’m not funny at all (although that possibility always remains). This was solidified on my second-to-last night, when I did my set three times over the course of the night. Ranging from totally rocking it to barely a snigger.

‘Ha!’ That’s the guffaw of a friend of mine right after my final set of the night when I was downing a beer as fast as I could and reminding myself that tomorrow I would be reflecting philosophically on my experiences, and focusing on my successes rather than my failures. ‘You’ve gotta love comedy.’

The things is, as I’ve told the mister perhaps more than once, making people laugh means tapping into a universal truth. But truly universal truths are few. That’s why Venn diagrams work.

What I’ve got instead of a career

Tomorrow night, I will be making my Adelaide Fringe Festival debut. This is not something I ever expected to so, but there you go.

I am part of the Titters! show on Wednesday and Thursday. It is a great show, with a bunch of excellent women comics who have been extremely welcoming. They have a lot more experience than me, and last year, they won a People’s Choice award.
I’ve got most of next week off, and then in the next week, I’ll be back in Titters as well as part of the High Beam comedy hour. In the last week of the Fringe, I’ll be part of Titters again.

And to top it off, I’ll be part of the upstART program with the Fringe. Which is, you know, as you can see, emerging artists. So, I could make some quip here about emerging at age 39, but that would be a bit obvious, wouldn’t it?

I had no idea I would be doing these things. They’ve crept up on me one by one. Until suddenly, I feel like I’m a different person. It’s exciting. Overwhelming sometimes, but exciting. And it makes my heart beat fast and my hands sweat just thinking about it.

But it’ll be ace. Really.

On the weekend, we went and watched the mister jump out of a plane.

He was skydiving.

We look much more adventurous than we really are.

If you need me, I’m down in the back yard. Rehearsing.

Not what I would have hoped

Tonight, I went on stage and did my set (that, I have learnt, is the way to describe the string of jokes you put together on any given night) and I DIED. That, I have long known, is the word we use to describe the night you go on stage and no one laughs. I have not, until now, known exactly what it meant in a personal sense. But it means exactly what it says. DIED.

This was not just some mild oh that didn’t go too well, did it and not even a slightly less mild shit, that went bad, didn’t it. No, this was a full on death. Like…well, I will leave it to your imagination. Only you can’t imagine how bad it was.

Now, I have many ideas about what might have gone wrong. Took the wrong lipstick for starters. But I dunno, it was so bad, I don’t think it’s worth dwelling on it for too long, because I don’t know that there’s much I can learn from it. The only thing I can think there is to learn is that even when you die you are still alive to tell the tale.

The pity of it is, is that because of a few other things going on right now, I’m not going back on stage for another month at which point I am in quite an important gig. It does not bode well, does it?

In other news, my new wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills arrived, and I have started what is proving to be a very beautiful jumper which begins with a large amount of moss rib, a truly beautiful stich. I’m sure that’s not how most comedians console themselves.

And in other, other news, the Tooth Fairy did come. She left a note which ended ‘PS Your house is very messy. I hope that you will help your Mum and Dad to clean it up.’ Never miss an opportunity.

PS Thanks for your comments on the last post, which I will digest and answer tomorrow.