being on the internet

I’ve been on my computer for a silly amount of hours in the last few days. I’m more or less convinced that the radiation from my laptop has made it impossible for me to ever have children.

Still, it might be worth it; that observed lesson went pretty well, plus I now have a blog and there is an official Scurvy website for anyone to look at, should they possibly want to.

Websites take so bloody long to build that it’s a wonder this internet thing ever took off at all. Still, it has some kind of nascent existence now, even if its essence is yet to be chosen. Not that a website could ever experience itself as being a radically free being-for-itself, of course – that would scare old M. Jean-Paul as much as it scares me – but the point is, it exists at last.

It was about time it did. As well as the Islington Club show, we’re doing two Scurvy shows this summer (‘we’ being myself, Loz, and Tony Dunn), and they need publicising. And what better way to make sure information is available for everyone to ignore than to put it on the internet?

Anyway. It’s there now. It is; therefore I don’t need to think about it.

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writing with loz

It’s Sunday afternoon and I just met up with my friend Lawrence in Finsbury Park to have a go at writing some new material.

We met up later than intended, largely because the clocks went forward last night (which, incidentally, always fills me with a great sense of injustice at being robbed of an hour of my weekend. I know I’ll get it back in October, but when that happens I’ll only sleep through it. I want it now)…

Anyway, Loz is one of the acts I’ll be doing the Edinburgh shows with. He also co-runs (with myself and another act) ‘Scurvy Wednesdays’, the comedy club night in Islington that we’ve been running since last autumn. We sat in the World’s End pub, I told him about how I’ve starting a blog, and he seemed appropriately nonplussed.

We mostly chatted about how he’ll be structuring his new set, which I think will be good. I won’t say too much about it here – not because I think anyone will ever read this, but because it would be generally rude. But I think it’s safe to say that he’d like his act to take a more narrative format with the story providing a structure for the funny bits to hang on. Loz is a particularly talented musician, and I think his strongest material will always be in his songs, so the challenge for him will be in coming up with a narrative that can include those songs. It also felt good to help him come up with some funny ideas. Part of the reason comedy writing is so much fun is that it’s just a process of having funny thoughts and laughing about them, and then seeing how funny they can get…

He suggested two things that my help my own act – one was that I slow down (I like this as advice; it’s very hard to know what my own pace is like, but if people aren’t laughing at stuff I thought was hilarious when I wrote it, then it would be nice to think that it’s because they just didn’t hear it properly); and also that I adopt a more narrative style myself.

I’m not sure what to make of this; if I tell a story then I’m not entirely sure where to fit the jokes in; also, it’s hard to tell what to start writing about, and there are no instant events which spring to mind. None that I’m quite ready to share yet, anyway.

I had to leave at four-thirty – My teaching is being observed tomorrow by a Deputy Head of the school I teach at, plus my Line Manager, so I ought to prepare something good. I’ve already had to turn down a possible gig at The Comedy Manifesto tonight, which I really enjoy doing and would have been a good way of getting back on the horse after the competition knockout. If I want to keep the day job, though, I need to put some time into that too. Which is especially galling, since I’ve had an hour stolen off me already.

I told Loz all this and he said, “Yes, but you won’t do that, will you? You’ll just go home and write a blog that nobody will ever read.”

Hmm…

the point of this

So having written all that stuff last night, I’m thinking I should probably establish the purpose for which I am going to write a weblog. After all, they are (as a general rule) entirely pointless entities that everybody in the world ignores and do nothing but burn energy and clog up the internet.

There’s a few reasons, I suppose – they’re mostly covered by Richard Herring in his ‘warming up’ thing, so they don’t need repeating. And if a person wanted to read a blog by a successful, respected stand-up who regularly performs brilliant shows, then his is definitely the one to read.

My blog will not be like that.

Firstly, because I’m at that stage where, I am neither brilliant nor really respected – I’d like to finish that with a ‘yet’, but there are no guarantees I ever will be. At best, I could be called ‘promising’. I’ve been performing, on and off, for about three years and I’ve done some really good gigs but I’ve never really found a consistent voice, or a routine that audiences love (I used to have one but it involved carrying huge newspaper hoardings around and I figured that if I can’t do it without stupid props then I shouldn’t be doing it at all).

Arguably I haven’t worked hard enough or been committed enough – but I’m 30 in December, so if I don’t really put the effort in now then I probably never will. In the next few months I will be preparing for the Edinburgh festival where, with two other aspiring performers, I will be doing a 25-day run of shows for the first time. That will either be good, or it won’t be. 

So this blog will hopefully go some way towards documenting either a gradual curve towards success, or a long, slow decline into disappointment, failure and wrist-slashing. Either way, this is the big push and I want it documented – either as an inspiration to the millions of adoring fans who will, in 10 years, want to know how it all happened; or as a record for myself on my deathbed that, well, at least I tried.

Secondly, it will be different because in addition to stand-up, I’ve got other things I’m interested in. In particular, philosophy and politics. My day job is teaching teenagers about these things. So if I stick a few thoughts in that are not directly related to stand-up, then I hope you will forgive me/ignore it/find them a pleasant distraction…

so…

I’ve been knocked out of the Laughing Horse competition at the quarter final stage, which isn’t very good.

I’ve just come home from the show. Nan, my girlfriend, is already in bed…it’s lovely that she’s there, but it doesn’t help.

Outside on Tottenham Lane, men are shouting at each other. Perhaps it started in The Queens. I don’t know, I never go in there anymore. It doesn’t matter.

The only really important fact is that tonight, I just wasn’t funny enough.

Why start a blog now? Why blog this? Dunno. Feels like I should, though.

I just wasn’t funny enough. Not anywhere near funny enough.

I may think I’m better and smarter than some of the four who went through, but that means nothing. I could, if I were being a real dick, blame the fact that one of the four who went through brought about 20 friends down, and if they hadn’t been put through there’d have been a riot. But that’s no good – if I’d been good enough to look like a potential finalist I’d have been put through too.

I could even wonder to myself why at least one of the other acts went through when he clearly didn’t get the laughs that I did. It really doesn’t matter at all; he was lucky and I wasn’t – but the fact is, luck shouldn’t have been an issue. It came down to luck because nobody really stood out.

The night’s winner, Joe Baker, absolutely deserved to win, by the way. He was good. But nobody killed. And if I wasn’t funny enough to stand out from that, then I just wasn’t funny enough.

And that hurts.

It hurts because I’ve done 6 gigs in the last 8 days. In that time, I’ve only spent one evening with Nan. These were supposed to be the gigs that got me ready for the competition quarter-final. I’ve been writing loads of new stuff, often thinking ‘this is the stuff I’ve been trying to write for years!’, only for it to come out to distinctly lukewarm responses when I’ve performed it.

Why work so hard for so much disappointment?

The shouting outside is getting louder. I’m going to the window.

There’s a crowd of about 50-60 drunk young men and women outside The Queens, and two police vans have turned up. About 20 police have got out of the vans and are sweeping down the street, mobile phones stuck to their chests glowing like a slow wave of blue fairylights. The shouting is getting less frequent but still vicious and shot through with shrill, violent panic. A man in a polo shirt smashes a car window and the blue fairylights surround him. As I come away from the window, an ambulance siren is coming closer.

I could have been out there tonight, and I’m glad I’m not.

But then…I could have been funnier tonight and I wasn’t.

Out of those two thoughts, perhaps the first ought to be concern me more.

But it won’t.

 

Welcome to my blog, by the way; I’m Charlie Duncan and I seem to be a self-obsessed whinging arse of a failing standup.

It’s good to meet you. 🙂