In Need of a Medicalised Stand Up Patch – Cold Turkey Comedy

I gave up smoking.
Four years or so now.
The last one was with Steve Lamacq at Reading.
Now I consider the smoking me as a ridiculous figure. I never had the face for it.
I gave up drinking. I managed eleven months, rejecting fine wines offered to me by Professor Cox, cheery after show booze platters at TEDx talks, rum cheer at Glastonbury, eventually defeated by a Red Stripe in a red room filled with re-faced and dripping people.
It was Michael Legge’s fault.
“That’s it, I can’t work with you sober,” he bellowed in his best marching and throwing things voice.
He stormed off to the bar, returned and placed a can on a center stage chair.
Why did I drink it?
For the sake of showbusiness, of course. It was the most stupid thing to do in front of the audience, bananaskin melodrama, so it had to be done.
I gave up refined sugar. A mere three days. Somethings are too delicious to fast. Had Lindt chocolate bunnies existed 2000 years ago, Jesus would not have made his 40 days, Satan would have appeared in desert as a Hotel Chocolat outlet.
“I’m melting!”

What next?

I have promised in the past, but repeatedly failed.
I am going to attempt to give up stand up.
I have been planning this for a while. I continue to tour the UK until early February, then off to the US for a Monkey Cage tour in March, a solo Australian tour in April, a couple more months of UK, then, from July, the valve must be sealed.
welded shut.
For a year?

I will be interested to see if I can.

It is a benevolent addiction, and an insidious one.
Over half my life, I have been defined as a stand up. Sometimes even a comedian, though that has been up to the audience to decide.

I have been fortunate. It has worked out for me. I have been able to tour on my own, and enough people have turned up for me to make a living. Some people barely get as far as a single paid gig, but they keep going. The true tenacity, when there is no gain, when they still have their office job, and their nightmares are filled with hate and violence at those that have not found them funny enough for them to give the Johnny Cash finger to daytime work, and live off jokes and puns and observations and oddities amplified.

In some ways, it is the easiest art. You can’t put it off. the audience are there. You can attempt to procrastinate. “Hmmm, I’ll start in a minute, maybe a cup of tea and a couple of phone calls first”, but before long, the anger and confusion will build, and the screams of, “get on with it or fuck off”, will force your hand, and mouth, to start attempting some kind of entertainment.

If I give up stand up, will all that untapped and unreleased anxiety, absurdity and nonsense bubble up like ash and lava and make a novel, or a screenplay, or a clay monolith, or will it all drift away in occasional thoughts and silence?

I can’t think of many who have successfully given up stand up. Nick Revell and David Baddiel managed years (according to someone who saw him on The One Show, I was partly to blame for him coming back. Bumping into him at a west country service station, I informed him that no one is ever truly allowed to leave stand up once they have begun. “Just when I thought I was out…”). Alexei Sayle managed over a decade. Nick Hancock is the only one who hasn’t come back…yet.

With a teenagehood obsessed by comedy, and an adulthood immersed in it, am I anything else? Can I be anything else, apart from an annoyance and obstruction around the house?
I know that on nights off I am particularly annoying in the kitchen during the gigging hours.

I will start the mental sweepstake now. Will it be months, weeks, days, or merely hours, before I walk back into a comedy club.
Sweating, shivering, cold.
“Hey Jack, can I just have 5 minutes in front of them, just 5, maybe 10, I read a thing in the newspaper, and I’ve got the idea for a bit, and if it stays in me, it’ll become toxic. Just a minute in the lights, extemporising. Thanks, I won’t ask again”

Most, but not all, of my dates for the rest of this year and 2015 are up here
Southport, Manchester, Henley, Bridgwater, Goole, Bristol, Nottingham, are all imminent.

and the Brighton Comedy Festival

and here is a link for Southport

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5 Responses to In Need of a Medicalised Stand Up Patch – Cold Turkey Comedy

  1. liliannberg says:

    You are already an accomplished writer – you read more than anyone on earth as far as I can understand – there is so much waiting in the wings for you and whatever it will be – it’s bound to be brilliant.

  2. ingie says:

    The Chronicles of Ince the Unbeliever. Chapter 14, verse 10.

    “And Lo! It came to pass that on that day The Robin Ince was broken into 7 shards which would be carried by the 7 priests of comedy and taken to the farthest reaches of the universe, and buried. One day perhaps there would come a time when they would be called upon again. One day someone may rise up and say ‘Where is The Robin Ince?’ ‘How can we restore what was once broken asunder?’ and they will forge a quest to again bring the 7 shards together and make them whole. One day, when the earth has forgotten. When the earth is ready. I, ingie, bear witness to this chapter and write this in my own hand, lest it be lost in time”

  3. Neil says:

    Are you including benefits, Robin? If so, I give it five weeks.

  4. robinince says:

    uh oh, I hadn’t thought of that.

  5. Jay says:

    I remember seeing you supporting Ricky Gervais in Birmingham back during his Politics tour about a decade ago and thought you were great. It would be a shame to lose a comic like yourself from the circuit but you could make a writer no doubt about it. What ever you do after stand up I wish you all the best and I look forward to your return to being one man with a mic making gags in years to come (it’ll happen whether you want it to or not). Its good to try new things dude. All the best fella.

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