My ability to say no has improved, though my fear of pins and needles in my left arm, hastily followed by dropping dead on Paddington’s platform three remains.
Why don’t I do one thing at a time? Is it because if I concentrated on one thing, it might make me face up to my limitations? Juggling so many things, I have an alibi for my many ‘make do and mend’ endeavors.
Not bad for one of many, shoddy for a one and only.
Money can’t be the prime motivator, as I am probably better at turning down cash jobs than I am freebies.Most of the limited TV I am offered is rejected. TV may steal the soul. You think you are wise and witty, but a misfire on a panel show, combined with an ungenerous edit, and you are, “that dick on that show that said that thing that led to silence”. Each time the spell weakens, a repeat on Dave makes it fizz sulphurously.
I am in that devilishly lucky position where most of what I am asked to do is something that I want to do. I was talking to a talented and famous friend some months ago, his voice was reedy, it had gained an aristocratic drawl, the laziness of diction that comes with exhaustion.
“But ***, you have fame and awards now, you can say no now.”
“But I don’t want to say no, each one of these jobs is something I would love to do, it is just they have all been offered at once.”
And so, he is being crushed under the weight of his dreams coming true.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to be doing Infinite Monkey Cage with Eric Idle, Lucie Green, Stephen Fry and Tony Ryan (and my Sid Little, Brian Cox, as usual). Then it was an early morning meeting about next year’s US tour of Monkey Cage, a remarkably exciting proposition. If Brian plays it right, he could be the new Deepak Chopra I reckon, he just has to add the word consciousness every time he says quantum. He has the open face and hair to be a prime woo peddler. Then it was off to Steve Lamacq to give the public a little Voodoo Queens and some of my abysmal attempts at creating a sketch of someone based on their song choices. I even got the gender wrong today, it was Iron Maiden that sent me scurrying in the wrong direction.
A dash across the BBC forecourt to interview a historian about Darwin’s tummy aches Boyle’s sexual abstinence for a three part documentary on self help, then a blistering walk jog or jog walk to get to Paddington so I can be in Bath Spa to interview an American academic about “the models or metaphors of self”, then an Edinburgh preview of a show that may or may not exist in my head. Only the idea of doing nothing is more terrifying.
Recently, I watched an episode of Louie than rang painfully true. Louie CK attempts a night out. It is an evening of painful socialising. He bails out and walks the New York streets. Passing by a club, he chats to the guy on the door. “Can I go on and do ten minutes”. On occasional nights off, my wife suggests I go and see some friends (I presume this is to get me out of the house so that I don’t tetchily commentate on her TV viewing).
“Nah” is my general reply. Once, I agreed to go to a play.
“Who are you going to go with?”
“I thought I’d just go on my own”
“You have to go with someone”.
And so it went on. I attended the play. My friend and I hated it, then read the reviews that said it was a triumph, then became confused in a pub.
I won’t be doing that again when I could have been trying out ten minutes new material at Old Rope.
I wish I wasn’t always so late with my homework. 8 nights until Edinburgh fringe begins for me. One show, the angry one with Michael Legge (“one of life’s losers” today’s Metro), is already, it even has an ending, but as most of it is improvised, that was easier to finish.
My solo show remains 137 postcards with a loose collection of words on them (some may be sounds more than words). The few previews have been very enjoyable, and about double the length of the slot I have, and that’s avoiding 75% of the ideas I hoped to fit in.
I have a beginning, and then lots of words, some funnier than others. I also have my brain scans and some post it notes and a lot of good intentions to gesticulate wildly. I would like the safety net of some structure, just so there is something I can break every night.
The older I have become, the more I love stand up and realise that, after half a lifetime at it , there is no escape. This is what I am. Whatever real life holds, I have the valve of showing off, of making odd thoughts into a sideshow. What a relief, there’s no need to be a serial killer, rather than place my atrocities in a drain, I can just make them echo in a venue.
How fortunate to live a life where boredom is rare.
and if you are not coming to Edinburgh, I will be traveling across England, Ireland and Wales too this Autumn with two different shows and Grace Petrie too. Information HERE