Tuesday, 1 January 2008

The End of the beginning

I went to a party last night, the same eclectic house party I go to every year. I retreated to the garden with my celebratory cigar. As its Smokey entrails kippered my faculties, moments of lucidity between the hazy clouds helped me reflect on the past years journey. This time last year I was forlornly pondering my future whilst licking the weeping wounds of my business, which had collapsed during that previous year. I had no idea where I was heading and lacked any real energy to even debate it.

During March a friend told me about a BBC competition looking for new comedic talent from within Wales. I applied at the very last minute and had no confidence that I stood any chance of even getting through the door.

I sat down the night before the competition and read the rules (it’s a bloke thing, we don’t do instructions!) To my horror it said that the jokes had to be my own and original! One or the other would have been ok! The big pink ‘1000 Jokes for every occasion’ was hurled at a passing nun and I set about trying to create something funny at 12 hours notice.

Needless to say, I didn’t write a masterpiece of comedic verbal revelry on that sleepless night. Welsh chuckle bones were safe from sprain or fracture for the time being.

The day of the competition arrived, blinded by my own ego and deafened by internal self-delusion – I missed the fact that the audience weren’t laughing too much. I did make the Semi finals though, which gave my great momentum to carry on and try and make something with this tiny glimmer of talent, which someone there believed existed.

I drove forward on this new quest with enough energy and a passion to ensure I succeeded. I listened to the mountains of advice, which tumbled my way as I quickly climbed up the comedy rock face. I have been prepared to write, re-write and sacrifice loads of material in order to create a Set, which works, as it should. Whilst it was my ego, which drove me onto the stage, I had to stifle it many times in order to progress and guarantee my position could be sustained.

In just one year I have done over 80 gigs and performed at my first Edinburgh Festival. I have also set up Newport’s first regular fringe comedy night. Just before Christmas a big Comedy promoter agreed to start supplying me with a regular flow of ‘paid’ gigs. This is quite an unusual step as most comics have to do at least two years slog before paid gigs start to arrive.

I have worked my socks off and spent much money this year gaining the experience and stage time to put me in just this very position.
However – now looking forward to the year ahead, I am quite scared. I am scared I will fail. I am scared that now I am actually being paid to be funny, audiences will stop laughing! I am scared that all the hard work was for nothing as the next time I step on stage I will be found out as a fraud…. and not even a tragic hero dying in battle, just a plain old unfunny flop!

What does the next year hold for me? What does it hold for you? Is this the End?

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