You know the drill. Written in one fell swoop, hasty and not proof read. Errors of grammar, punctuation and logic…
I am lucky not to have a black dog hanging over me or gnawing at my tendons, but like most of us, I am sometimes overcast. This can create the occasional odd evening of jestering, shutting up the misanthrope while waving jazz hands.
These are the days when my forehead twitches. I was on a train from Cornwall the first time it felt like my brain was twitching. I was worried enough that I texted Dr Ben Goldacre, the shamanic epidemiologist. It was merely tiredness. An eye twitch that had got far enough north of the eyebrow for me to confuse a jiggling scalp with a brain trying to escape. With it comes a rattiness and hasty anger.
Patience is measured in timescales usually reserved for discussing the early moments of the big bang.
It allows erroneous readings of situations that can turn rows of forest fire proportions. A misheard adjective can be the pin from the grenade.
I find myself shirty on the internet, ready to call people being only mildly disagreeable, “shit licking, vomit fuckers”.
Once at Swindon, having forgotten the road the art centre was on, I decided not to take a cab, instead relying on a memory of the geography of the route made from footfalls of five years back. I followed false trails. It was raining. The cars were too loud, the concrete too unimaginative. I swore at incline and eventually arrived possessing a dampness that I would not shift for the rest of the evening.
My spider senses (Incey Wincey not Peter Parker) were picking up a lack of interest from the staff, the dripping sensation that hinted at a poorly sold gig that they wished had been cancelled and replaced with a night eating Frazzles and answering questions about kids cartoon shows of the 80s at a pub quiz.
(while typing this on a train, there is a woman watching something on her phone. She is laughing and trying to hold it in. Why is solitary public laughing so frowned upon?)
Most nights of this tour, I have sat on stage going through noted and eating bananas as the audience filed in. The table I had was a bit too small, and this led to me kicking my water over my postcards and ink scribblings. I wiped the stage with tissues as the opening music (Title music from Argento’s Tenebrae) drew close.
I didn’t want to be there.
For many performers, there is a period of time before the showing off begins where you want to leave the theatre. It is a rare artist (or a lying one) who doesn’t experience a little fight or flight with reasonable regularity, sometimes only for a matter of seconds, sometimes it comes in waves for days before. On other occasions, the lack of fight or flight creates the “why I am not nervous” nervousness.
Tonight, I was morose. Moroseness is of no use unless you are one of those morose acts, gnu faced and slow speaking. I didn’t want to be there, and that is very rude when people have turned up to see you. Normally, it is an illusion, and goes with the opening of the mouth – the poltergeist of turgidity departs like breath on a frosty day (or like the spirit of possession in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness), but it was a battle tonight. The internal DVD commentary of self-questioning and animosity to “SHOWBUSINESS” appeared in any three seconds where I could project the fear of a lull.
This never happens to Ken Dodd.
Can they see my joie de vivre is fading?
Is my impostor syndrome showing?
It was a wrestling bout, but a Boston Crab from nowhere pinioned it in the end.
I cannot work on autopilot. I cannot slap on the fake smile (well, on stage anyway)
I think I got there, exuberance and only the flicker of repulsion at my own reflection.
A reminder that maybe a little break from touring in 2015 may be a necessity if I am to avoid becoming careless, though a week into the vacation from chutzpah, I’ll be hankering to return.
And then there is the feedback that means it was all okay (for some at least)
I sit on trains home, still damp with sweat and rain. You know what? It was all okay in the end.
Should I cut down on sugar?
The touring goes on – Hull, Leeds, York (with added bonus of Michael Legge and me doing an angry show as an extra), Newport, Swansea, Winchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Edinburgh and on and on. Details HERE
latest DVD, three hours of cut up stand up confusion HERE