Saturday, 18 December 2010

Saturday 18h December 2010: Gigs Before Christmas/B'day

Bum. Less than 24 hrs before my birthday and for a few years I've been wondering when the tipping point usually happens. That point where birthdays stop being a cause of celebration and become an incessant reminder of your impending demise and mortality. When does living become that vain race to maintain one's youth against an undefeatable opponent, who's got a jetpack capable of breaking the speed of light, mocking you constantly; not helped by the fact that with every step, you yourself crumble more and more into a festering heap of pathetic failure? No? Just me then.

Christmas is usually a busy time for comedians. Real comedians that is. Wannabes like me only get the open spots we desperately cling for; and few and far between they are. After the Uni term ended, last Thursday, I had a couple of days off. Or, rather, a couple of weeks! So I got a job (Oh, yeah. I am just like you! I got 99 problems, etc! Although Jay-Z would use other abbreviations. He's more into Ancient Greek-references and Seneca) and shambled around for a couple of days. I bought some more books (Vonnegut and Conrad. Nice).

On Tuesday, I met up with some friends I had met at the Edinburgh Fringe 2009, for a gig they were doing in Walthamstow. The tube ride (end of the Victoria line) was fine and eventually, we found our way to the pub where the gig was to be held. If that sounds like a easy road to comedy manna, it wasn't. There were iPhone troubles and Ben experienced a small existential crisis when he saw an empty market square. Still not sure what that meant. Hope he's better now.

The pub itself was full, although not with comedy people. Mainly people drinking, including a smattering of men and women at the back of the pub, sitting by themselves, apparently scheming the incumbent rule of the known world by the Walthamstow Galoshes society. We weren't sure. But you can never be too careful. The gig itself was being held in the room above the pub. A secret staircase lead up to it. The bar-bit was closed and the way to the toilet was dark. There was another room with half-finished carpenting in the middle of it. The toilets themselves were pitch-dark, only dimly lit by the vague green of a misfiring fluorescent tube, near the ceiling. I was scared. It turned out that there was a spot left on the line-up, which I took.

The first half was pretty good. Enjoyable, certainly. I was under the impression I'd finish the first half. This didn't happen, but I got on second to last. If you're into Sketch (or any) form of comedy, go see PE Comedy. They're amazing, and getting better with age. And since they're all offensively young; that's pretty astounding. Go see them! Now! Ahum. My gig went pretty well. Was quite happy, especially with how the weirder bits went. Good going, Walthamstow! And I was heckled in the pauses again. This time by the booker's mate. That's just the kind of night it was. This all went pretty well and lovely. If I was still afraid of hecklers, the gigs this year would certainly have dealt with that. Maybe I should just do that. Or become a teacher; the most heckle-inducing job in the world. Or a stand-up. Yeah, good idea.

The day after I had a gig at UCL Union, as a means of auditioning for the brilliant EdFringe showcase (feel the desperation in the adjective. I know. But it is really good! Go there if you're around in August!) the Lunchtime Club. Unfortunately no-one showed up but two girls near the bar and this one boy who looked like he really needed some comedy, who sat near the front. Since a gig with 3 paying customers is never a good idea, it was called off. NOTE: This was the first time in 12 years this happened; so not at all a usual occurence. But I was a bit disappointed, since I had been working towards this for the last couple of months. And worried about that guy in the audience e.g. the audient; hope he's having a lovely snowy time now.

So that's it really. One actual gig and one cancelled one. I'm doing the cancelled one in the new year. Looking forward to it! That and Holland. And having my birthday. Hmm. Yes. And coming back here in the new year.

Every year I look back at the year before and go: is that all you can do? Is that the best you could have done? Is this it? And then I go, yes. That is all. I am not capable of more. I am shit as a person. And then all the bits of my head agree that, however mediocre and disappointing I may be, they'd still stick along for the ride. Maybe just to mock me. But that's fine.

I hope to come up with something funnier/less self-consciously weird than this next year. When my readership shifts from Russian people and family members, to Russian people, family members (kissies!) AND the occasional booker. Who will quickly tire of my overelaborate and usually unfunny prose (who does he think he is? Joseph Conrad?).

But hey; I've moved country, started doing gigs, wrote a lot, was in some things, had loads of crappy jobs, read some books, had some great nights, saw inspiring shows, ate fruit and most importantly: met loads of brilliant, lovely and awesome people. None of whom will be reading this blog right now. Ha! Beat that internet

This is what living the dream feels like, an oftentimes boring and uneventful dream; but a dream nonetheless. Thanks for sticking with me. Now, for everyone who's getting older, I would like to add a beautiful poem I discovered very recently, hope you like it too. It's a bit sad, but very wonderful, and written by the American poet Billy Collins. So this one's for everyone out there who's ever had a birthday.

On Turning Ten

by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

- Love you all! Bye! :-)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sunday 12th December 2010: Losing Stuff

Yes. Losing track of time, for one. I haven't updated this blog for nigh on two weeks now. It's high time. Today, we'll be talking about losing.

No, I've not lost it, no. But thanks for caring, if you did. You probably didn't. But that's fine. This is the internet; something best described as an immoral disembodied head of evil, making ignorance a virtue and swearing an art, that can only lead us into the new dark ages, where we, with luck; will kill the remainder of the human race by cannibalism (also a popular internet-based pastime). So what I want to talk about is Julian Assange.

No, not really. I'd be in prison if I did. What I really want to talk about is losing shit. I do this a lot. I go about my daily business, mislay something, and go mad. It's not a strange thing to be doing, losing shit. But my problem is the intense self-aggravation that goes on between the realisation of having lost the shit (or Thing, if you're going to be pedantic about it) and finding it again. It's like, as my friend said today, a bad sit-com. My head is humorous. But never to me.

Today, I lost a thing again. State 1: Annoyed. Where is it? I'm looking around calmly until the first jolt of fright hits me. Like a gerbil getting an electric shock, panic jolts through my brain (apparently it's dopamine! Who knew?) and a voice goes: WHERE IS THE whatever it's supposed to be this time.

Although I do have a problem with the internal monologue/voice thing. Mainly because that's not the way people think. It's not the way I think, certainly. People think in concepts, emotions are never based in words; at least not in your own head. The idea of an internal monologue having one particular train of thought (confusing it may be) all the time is basically flawed. Take that James Joyce! Though I might be very much mistaken, thinking differently to literally all human beings (except some people in Russia. Hello there!) whilst having the ambition of working in an industry (humour) that relies mainly on shared assumptions being built or broken and feelings anti- or sympathy with some people in a place. Which would be shit. A bit like electing a crocodile on the board of directors of your local swimming pool. Because the crocodile wouldn't be able to communicate his particulars view on the future of swimming in the 21st century or communicate with the council. If it could even talk, it would probably focus on the consumption of visitors from out of an alcove, underneath the shallow end. Likewise; me on a stage talking to people in a humorous way would simply fail. Yes, that's what we're playing with here. A mind that self-destructs. I hate you, Jacques Derrida!

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Losing shit.

Then, the lost thing would have to be refound, but in a manic, high speed manner, with one bit of my brain shouting at me for not having found it yet and the other bit calmly pondering worst-case scenarios.

In years past, I would usually call out for my mum and would ask her if she knew anything about the thing that had been lost. She would then usually ask me where I was when I last had it. I never know, that's why I'm asking her.

I actually considered calling her, 200 miles away. She only ever saw this room via Skype. It would be so stupid as to actually distort the space-time continuum. I doubt that anyone would have done anything more idiotic than that. Not even Hannibal, the bane of Pachyderms. If you got that; point to you. If not: read up. I like writing about stuff that's deliberately obscure. It takes the mind on a journey. Though not always a pleasurable one, like this one, which is mainly concerned with the inner workings of my own head.

For minutes on end, I'd look maniacally for things, even shouting into thin air things like: 'rah!', and 'where is it?', a rhetorical question if there ever was one. Although if you ask a rhetorical question, and no-one is there to witness it; is that still a rhetorical question? Possibly. But almost certainly not. I asked someone. The proper scientific name is apparently be: 'Stop writing me, go away, you're strange!' Which doesn't really help. But hey; this guy probably knows best. Thank you Dr. Phil.

But in the end, the thing I lose will be, without fail, always where I last had it. I've even turned to that classical 1920s French Silent Movie thing where I kiss the thing I just found in a flamboyant manner. Which I can do, cos I'm by myself so no-one will ever have to know. Oh, bum-Oh, jeez-How embarrassing-Never mind.

When I'd eventually found the thing, my mum would go on about me not having a system. And I'd think I was a dick for not doing so and promise myself to actually start filing stuff, from now. on But that horrible self-loathing sensation would be better than the mania of actually losing something, with the two sides of my head being equally annoyed by me. That means I prefer only 1 thing being annoyed with me, as opposed to 2 distinct ones. Interesting. It's like being a small German village in the 17th Century while the 30-years war is raging between my forehead and oesophagus. But funny. Cos it's true. They never say that about famine, eh? Bono visits an African Orphan and decides to tell a joke:
- Who's dying?
+ ...
- Ah, come on. Who's dying?
+ (whimper)
- Who's dying? You are!
+ Haha! (dies)
- It's funny cos it's true! (walks away smugly)
Hmm. Yes.

There, comedy about my brain. Take that Hippocampus! I rule. Although I am not sure how, exactly. Thanks for reading this far. I don't know if I would have, in your place. So congratulations for finishing reading my blog. Yes. Bye!

Personal messages:

I would like to thank my many Russian fans who have inexplicably found my blog amusing and came to it in their droves. So a baffled thanks for that.

And now the Meaningless Self-Promotion Bit! Gigs lined up: Wednesday at UCL Union at Huntley St! And I'll be in Walthamstow on Tuesday seeing friends (and if there's still a spot free, then perhaps?).