How do you know you’re a good person

Because no one ever tells you. I used to think I was a good person. When I was younger I tried to do things for people, make life a bit easier for them etc but as I’ve got older I’ve thought “Fuck that! What did those dicks ever do for me?!” and that makes me think I’m a bad person. I mean I voted thinking I was against racism, I give to charity, love my family, try not to gossip about others, pay all my bills but I don’t think those things make me a good person. Fred West loved his family, Josef Fritzl really loved his family.

Here’s the problem. You could be a lovely person, help out at your church, bake for your kids’ schools, volunteer at the soup kitchen and read to old people but at the same time you could think gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it’s an abomination. Does that make you a bad person? You don’t think so. I think you’re a piece of shit but the old people you read to would defend you and kids would pelt me with freshly baked muffins if I confronted you at their fete, repeatedly asking why your cupcakes had the word “fags” with a big red line through it on them. All of those people will repeatedly tell you that you’re a good person and you’ll believe them.

It’s bothering me a lot. I don’t have a lot of friends so when I do or say something a bit controversial I don’t have a bunch of people backing me up with baked goods or old war stories. I have my family who say “you’re fine, you’re doing a good job, none of us are dead and that’s a big part of being a good dad/husband” but then Hitler had a girlfriend and Trump has his weird family so that can’t be a good measure. I’m not saying I’m pulling on a white hood, burning a cross and getting confused when people aren’t on board I’m just saying that I don’t have a large echo chamber of people who have known me for a while telling me I’m a good person and silencing that little voice in my head, in a weird cockney accent strangely, telling me I’m wrong.

Strangers are worse as a reference point, they don’t know where you’re coming from, they don’t know you’re being ironically racist or you’re sharing a sexist in-joke with your wife. Strangers will take everything at face value and immediately call you on it, especially online. They’ll make you feel like you’re an awful person just for liking cat photos or Christmas so who do we use to measure ourselves against? When did it become a crime to want Christmas to come early? I just love bright knitwear.

If you look to historical examples you’ve got people like Ghandi who took a stand for his country’s freedom but then it turns out he might have been a paedophile, Mother Theresa turned out to be an atheist, Winston Churchill invented concentration camps, Roald Dahl hated Jews. All of these people are seen as being ideological leaders in their fields and yet are so fatally flawed that you couldn’t take them as an example. Did those flaws also make them the great people they were? Were they great because they were hypocrites?

I’m overthinking it all but really at no point in school and through your development is there a moment where someone takes you aside, hands you a list of qualities and says “Just do these things and don’t do these other things and you’ll be a good person, ignore what anyone else says these are the definitive qualities that a good person needs to adhere to”. Hell they don’t even teach you how to raise a child, fix a leaky sink or how to hold a meaningful conversation and those things are the key skills to life. I would have given anything to have had a lesson in school called “How not to fuck up” I can tell you now that would have been so much more useful than how to play the recorder or any amount of trigonometry.

If we had that, just that assurance, maybe we wouldn’t have people gathering to march against people of a different race or sexuality. Maybe we’d have enough space for refugees and enough money for the homeless. Maybe we could have a standard two week holiday for Christmas for everyone? That’s the dream right there.

 I think I’m a good person. Maybe.

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The Adult life deficit

Today I woke up and just felt like absolute hell. My head was pounding, my throat hurt and my body felt like I’d just gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

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(emotionally not physically)

There’s no reason for it. I got enough sleep, I ate well yesterday, did some exercise, didn’t get drunk and definitely didn’t get my ear bitten off. It’s happened on and off for a couple of years now but more and more it’s becoming a frequent occurrence, like I’ve got the worst hangover of my life but with none of the fun the night before.

Today I realised why. It’s the teen to adult deficit. When I was a teenager I’d stay up all night playing video games and eating junk then go out with my friends the next day riding bikes or making lip synced rap videos and never feel any negative side effects (aside from those videos playing constantly in my head every night as an example of how uncool I am). I thought I was invincible, in fact I didn’t even think about what affect any of it was having on my body because I couldn’t feel any of it at all. I just assumed my body could deal with everything I was throwing at it. How wrong I was.

What was actually happening was my body was forming a book of grudges, a list of grievances it had against me, and gradually it was getting angrier until one day around my 30th birthday it decided enough was enough and started to unleash it’s now unstoppable ire.

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(Pictured: Ire)

“Remember that time you ate an entire bakewell tart for breakfast and washed it down with two pints of banana milkshake? Well guess what HERE’S THE NAUSEA AND MIGRAINE!”

“Remember going out clubbing with a group of friends and tequila was buy one get one free and they threw you out of the bar for taking your top off then woke up the next morning in time for an 8am lecture on statistical analysis? FEEL THE PAIN!”

“Now we’re going to be sick for no apparent reason, don’t worry it’s just from when you ate sausages you’d left on the side for 3 days and used sambuca to take the weird aftertaste away. I know it’s been 12 years but it’s time to pay the piper”

Now I’ve worked this out I am terrified of what’s coming. There’s definitely a couple of birthdays I shouldn’t have walked away from.

How to Not feel alone

I had a conversation this week with a fellow comedian while we were on a long drive to a gig. During the course of the conversation we came to the realisation that while we were both at different points in our careers we had exceedingly similar issues with regard to how we felt. It was a lovely open conversation with a good friend.

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(“…hahaha and then I shanked him in the shower” sharing is caring)

The next day out of the blue I got a message from another comic asking me if I had ever felt a bit out of sorts and if my confidence ever wavered. This was exactly what my conversation from the day before had been about and I realised that while we all put on this bravado and bluster we all pretty much have the same insecurities. The overriding theme was that while we were surrounded by people all doing similar things we felt pretty much alone as performers.

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(some out of choice and some because you’re dangerous to be around)

Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but I know a lot of us feel like this and I wanted to write a post that reassured people and helped with some of that neurosis.

Here’s an example. I often get good news with regards to my career, it could be a slot I wasn’t expecting to get at a well known club or an extremely well paid corporate for a big company or even just that an agent from a TV agency is coming to see me perform, and when I get that news I instantly want to share it with my friends. A large part of wanting to share it is to show everyone how great I’m doing and there’s nothing wrong with that, prior to my comedy career I wouldn’t have thought twice about posting up a status about a promotion at work or a bonus I’d be getting, but now I get this good news and I realise there’s no one I want to share it with. My friends are mostly comics like me, any good news for me is usually bad news for them, so calling someone and saying “This agent is coming to see me perform!” turns into an unpleasant conversation for them as they consider why they haven’t had an agent see them or why they didn’t get that gig or even just why is Chris calling me to tell me how great he’s doing?! What a dick! And I’m exactly the same when people call me.

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(Oh look at you doing so f*cking well! Oh oh oh look at me with my fresh food and holeless trainers, don’t we think we’re the smartest smarty pants ever. F*CK YOU! F*CK YOU IN YOUR WELL FED MOUTH!)

BUT that’s not really true. Most of that is to do with your own paranoia because we don’t openly talk about the negative side of ourselves in regards to the circuit. I just want to reassure you on a few points:

  1. I do start to hate my material after a while
  2. I do worry about how well I’m doing
  3. I do worry about what other comics think of me
  4. I do have a fragile ego
  5. I do work very hard to get the smallest of successes
  6. I do like to tell people I’m doing well and have them congratulate me
  7. I hate being criticised
  8. I sometimes feel like I’m not in control
  9. I do get jealous of other comedian’s success

All of those things are about me but I know for a fact that a lot of other comics feel exactly the same and I know that the biggest catalyst for feeling all of those things is because we feel like we’re alone working against the rest of the people we know.

I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re human beings, we all feel like that and that’s ok. We’re supposed to. All of those things make you a good comedian, a great person and a hard working individual. It’s not going to change overnight but I’m going to start being more open about these things and you should too.

Let’s start now. I want everyone to get in touch with me at christpurchase@gmail.com and tell me how great they’re doing. I want to hear every success story and every win, not just in your career but in your life. I want to hear about it and I want to have a conversation about it. Let’s end this year by telling each other how great we are and feeling good about it.

Let’s change everything.

My family and other people

This week the girls and myself have been visiting my mum. Mostly because I’ve still got stuff at her place but also because she cooks us food that would make Paul Hollywood say “I think that’s too much butter, don’t you?”

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(Well breakfast IS the most important meal of the day)

You got to love being spoiled a little bit. As an adult with kids it’s rare that someone makes food for you while you read a good book. It’s rarer still that they don’t expect payment and slip you a tenner as you leave.

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(Usually there’s a happy ending)

It’s good to visit your old family home but it’s also a bit stressful. Old criticisms come up and no matter how old you get your parents will always see you as a child.

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My mum constantly tries to tell me how to look after my own kids. I like to remind her they have reached 6 and 8 without any permanent physical or emotional scarring and their clothes are bought from a shop rather than a costume rental store. My favourite bits of advice always have “but it didn’t do you any harm” at the end of them. I’m 20 stone, I was 23. I’m not suggesting that it was all mum’s fault but she was the woman that buttered my Yorkshire puddings.

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(It’s just puppy fat. I ate three great danes, four golden retrievers, a saint Bernard and a French poodle)

I know she does it all through love and now I’m a parent I can empathise with our mother/son relationship. I have realised we are more similar than I could have ever appreciated.

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(She loves a good lemur)

Growing up and other vegetables

When I turned 30 I thought “this is it this is when I’ll know how to be an adult” so on my birthday I sat by the door waiting for the DVD marked “How to do Man Things”. Unfortunately just like a birthday card from my dad it never came.

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(I eat to fill to the hole in my heart)

Quick side story here it was my youngest’s 6th birthday party a few weeks ago and we had a big party that my dad organised for our two families. During the party he turned to my mum and started saying how great his neighbour’s son is. He finally finished with “if you had a son wouldn’t you like a son like him” there it is ladies and gentlemen it’s official my dad doesn’t acknowledge that he has sons, not even to his ex wife.

Anyway 30th birthday and I’m not any closer to being an adult than I was at 29, if I’m honest I wasn’t any closer than when I was 15 except I can talk to women and control my erections better.

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(FYI I dress to the right)

I felt a bit lost after that. Every sitcom ever has told me that when I hit 30 I’d suddenly know everything, have a stable income sufficient enough to support laugh a minute hijinks and have a perfect haircut. What it did do though was it did show me that I had assumed things were going to be handed to me. I was working but I could work harder, I wasn’t looking after my body and my hair looked like it was cut with broken glass.

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(Ladies)

Turning 30 made me realise I wasn’t living my own life I was just riding through it. In the year and a bit since I started doing my dream job, for my daughters back and moved in with the woman of my dreams plus I’ve just about managed the haircut.