My brain is a wrung out dish cloth and a sodden blanket of tiredness hangs on my shoulders. The pockets of adrenaline secreted in the fractured cracks of my body have run dry. I have finished touring, at least until 14th January. Though I have much to do, radio shows to present, live shows to produce and MC, there is a guilt that this touring comedian is not touring. How lazy to wake up in your own house, without the confusion about what town you’re in, and the suspicion that the station you walk to will have the heart sinking sign, “Bus Replacement Service to Penzance”.
This will be the longest tour break for some time. 2012’s tour ran directly into 2013’s, which ran directly into 2014’s, with any possible cracks in the schedule filled with Utter Shambles shows with Josie Long and Grace Petrie. The second month of Winter is usually potent with paranoia that I won’t find two hours of new ideas. My room is carpeted with etched postcards, felt-tipped non-sequiturs, the scene of a badly organised serial killer from a B movie. It was in preview gigs in Uckfield and Eastbourne that I started to see what the next tour show would be, and it was not what I had presumed. The fear of the audience’s glare makes the mind work in a way that it won’t when just staring at blank paper alone in an office. I was lucky to start the tour at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, I could not have wished for a more generous audience. They offered the energy I needed to feed on, oh Succubus stand up creature me, and I leapt around physically and mentally, the entertainment perhaps less in the words than in the spectacle of the possessed. Then, to Nottingham and Sheffield. I sat on the stage, watching the audience come in and eating a banana, like a street busker attempting Krapp’s Last Tape. The young grandson of Alan Sillitoeasked me to convey a message to Brian Cox about something he believed the Professor had got wrong. A man approached me to say he had been at his mother’s funeral that day, and decided that this should be how he spent the evening. It was daunting to be in such a situation, to know that someone has placed such trust in you. I hope I didn’t fail him. Somewhere over the months, most of the show was shed and replaced by another. I can barely remember the second half, and I know most of the first half went too. Whether the caterpillar of the early show became a butterfly, or just came out of the cocoon another caterpillar, I don’t know.
In July, I tried out a bunch of new ideas that were going to make my Edinburgh show. Some made it, many have been forgotten. I can’t read my notes. If they were funny, they may come into my head again. They form the munitions somewhere in my subconscious which may suddenly fly forth on a given night when the spur is there. Though I have erased most of it now, there are the last wisps of the smoke of the memory that this was quite hard tour mentally, may be it should be when it is about the brain. I think the show itself was very often the best show I have taken on tour, but there was a glumness when I wasn’t immersed in showing off on stage. Nights where, until I was in front of the audience, I really didn’t think I had a show off in me. I took Grace Petrie with me for some of the Autumn part of the tour in the hope that she would distract me from offstage, dressing room mirror staring cliches. It was the right time for me to make the Radio 4 documentary about comedians and mental health.
Every night is a party, with all the worries of whether people will turn up and whether they will enjoy the entertainment you have laid on. Fortunately, most of the time, people turned up. My apologies for the perpetual Facebook and Twitter, “I am playing here.TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE” harassment. There were a few venues where the turn out was disappointing to the point of bleak, but other towns and cities where the people kept coming. Salford and Manchester, my fondness for you remains intact. I have played to more people up there than in London, so I was corrct when I fetishised The Smiths and then the Madchester scene in my youth.
Next year, I have a smattering of UK dates as I make my new show, Reality Tunnel (though still billed as Blooming Buzzing Confusion on some theatre sites), and I go to USA with The Professor, and to Australia on my own. Then, from July onwards, with the occasional music festival exception, I attempt a solo show hibernation. Few people trust I will keep to it, let us see what tenacity I possess.
Thank you to everyone who came to all the different shows I did on 2014, and to Michael Legge who smashed my glasses in Leeds, and made me fall off the wagon in Edinburgh, both experiences were useful. And thanks to Josie Long and Grace Petrie too for the Shambles. And to Peter Bloomfield for the brain scan. I have just made a new folder “Notes for 2015 shows”, here we go.
http://www.robinince.com for all UK tour details etc
and Dead Funny, with stories by Stewart Lee and Sara Pascoe and Rufus Hound and on and on is HERE