Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Funny Business

It's a curious thing, being a "budding new comedian" because comedy clubs, agents and comedians themselves would have everyone believe that each new joke spouter did one of the following things:

Shot to fame.
Rocketed to notoriety.
Burst onto the scene.

The reality is that, unless you have some kind of omnipotent parent, you're pretty unlikely to shoot, rocket or burst anywhere. Comedy is a slow and painful grind. Unfortunately "miserably traipsed from dank club to dingy pub for 8 years telling slight variations on the same jokes before someone noticed just as she was tightening the noose and offered her a chance to play to stag do's for better money on a Saturday in early 2012" doesn't fit as well onto a bio or a poster.

Marketing is marketing. Doesn't hurt anyone and makes the whole industry seem more glamorous and exciting.

Unless you're at the beginning watching everyone else supposedly taking off like fireworks and wondering whether your own lack of uncensored week on week noticeable improvement means you should just give up and go back to the office. Don't do it. Just to offer some encouragement, I have written a helpful guide to starting out in comedy and maintaining the faith that print means nothing:

Shot to fame = Wasn't good enough or experienced enough when first noticed by agents who pushed this comedian into things they weren't ready for. Exciting at first, but caused no end of problems in the long run.

Burst onto the scene = Took every gig on offer and nearly bankrupted themselves playing Penzance for £15 on Tuesday and Nottingham on Wednesday in exchange for petrol money. This is the most glamorous way of saying comedy whore - an approach not to be sniffed at.

Alternative style and unshakeable confidence in their own ability = Incredibly unfunny to the general public but continued to plough doggedly on with the material until they had a cult following. Bit of a dick in the green room too.

Slick and funny = Utterly unremarkable remake of thousands of comics gone before.

A natural = Been going for so long they recite their 20 in their sleep.

Ultimately, as long as the audiences are enjoying what you're doing, you're fine. Keep going, keep writing and keep enjoying yourself. If you're not having fun there's something wrong. I'm almost tempted to update my own website as a beacon of hope to all those who will follow in my barefootsteps...

"Laura Lexx crawled onto the comedy scene armed with seven whole jokes and a perpetually shrill intonation."

"Laura Lexx first burst on to the scene in 2009 where she performed confidently across the London open mic scene. This initial burst was followed by a solid two years of being wedged in the scene's cat flap. Whilst not being entirely uncomfortable here, Lexx is methodically working up and down the country on freeing up limbs and depositing them into the 'scene' side of the cat flap. Catch her while you can, before she dies of starvation or gets pregnant to distract herself from the eternal disappointment of the working world."

"Laura Lexx is not the most successful comedian you could book but she tries very hard, doesn't charge much and is rarely offensively bad."

"Other comedians have recommended Lexx as a star addition to any bill, rumours that this is due to the quality of baked goods on the car trips are unfounded."

Wouldn't that be better? No bitterness, no boasting, no false modesty... just honesty and a nice lack of showbiz glamour. Hurrah for comedy!

1 comment:

  1. I like, and lots of good points. It's easy to be distracted by the excitement that surrounds star billings, impressively quotable reviews, long CVs and getting signed to the big agents. Some of the most respected and successful comedians didn't do it that way. They worked for a long time honing their crafts when no-one had a clue who they were. x