Bad Comedian

Two years ago I was a bad comedian.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I wasn’t a bad comedian but in my own opinion I wasn’t good. I’d watch back sets of my own performances and cringe at myself. Thing is the audiences liked it, I was getting a lot of work and basically my career was on the rise but that only made it worse.

My problem was the material didn’t matter, I was doing jokes about stuff that wasn’t important to me. Sure here and there were a couple of bits about my family but overall it was a bunch of jokes about penises and poo. Again it’s fine for some comedians, it’s just that I’d wanted to be a different type of comic. I’d grown up with Billy Connolly talking about his childhood, Robin Williams discussing his addiction and mental health issues, Eddie Izzard opening the UK’s eyes to transgenderism and Victoria Wood championing feminism. Later on I would find Louis CK, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Tim Minchin, Brendon Burns, Richard Pryor, John Oliver, David Cross, Maria Bamford, Mike Birbiglia and more but right there at the beginning of my love affair with comedy it was story tellers with issues.

I’d grown up with these people, I wanted to be like them, and right there in the middle of the career I’d worked so hard for I felt like I was failing. I started to hate my work, it wasn’t fun to write anymore and that meant the performance was all very stale. I felt like I was letting myself down but worse I was letting those iconoclasts of comedy down.

It couldn’t go on like that, I couldn’t hate doing the thing I’d loved my whole life. I’d worked so hard and it felt like the thing that defined me slipping away. I mean if I wasn’t a comedian what was I?

So I changed. I forced myself to write about subjects I felt like were important. You know what happened after that, you’ve followed me because of the change I made. Before that I was another comedian making jokes about the same subjects. It’s alright for some but for me personally it wasn’t enough and that showed in the work.

In no way am I saying that I’m even close to those heroes of mine that inspired me to do standup but I feel like I’m getting closer, that I’m on the right path. I went to see Louis CK last year and 3 of his jokes were similar to jokes I’d been developing for my show, that was incredibly encouraging. I mean I had to ditch 3 bits that I knew definitely worked but still it’s great to know you’re thinking in the same way as your idols.

This week I did a solo show at Leicester and it was full. People came who had seen me the year before or who followed me online. It was exceedingly flattering to be in a room full of people all agreeing that the comedian I was now was so much better than the comedian I was then. Those comedians I looked up when I was growing up changed my mind about a lot of things and I’m hoping that now I’m starting to make as much of a difference as they did.

Thanks to everyone that came on Tuesday, it was incredibly humbling. Next year I’ll be doing 3 dates because of how well it went. Until then here’s some very short snippets from the show.

Bigger tree?

While twitter went mad with whether or not you should torture a baby to save a terrorist, I’ve spent most of today arguing with racists. It’s really opened my eyes to how ignorant you need to be these days to be a bigot.

It started with this joke (thanks to Ignacio Lopez for the pic):

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A couple of facebook groups stuck it up and shared it with a few thousand people which is lovely. What isn’t lovely is loads of people saying Muslims are coming over here and raping everyone, I was like “Woah! Are they? I didn’t know?! They haven’t even asked me out let alone tried to force me to have sex with them, what’s wrong with me?” I was hurt. If anyone was going to be doing all this raping I should have at least felt threatened right? I had to check this out so I googled it. I typed in “Which ethnic group does the most raping in the UK?” and there it was first hit Government office of statistics and it turns out that the people doing the most raping in the UK was white British nationals at a staggering 86%. I was shocked, how could this person have been so sure of their numbers yet been so wrong even though it had taken me 0.0034 of a second to find the correct answers. I had to correct the guy because he was definitely going to feel embarrassed

So I go back to this guy, I cut and paste the statistics so he doesn’t even have to look at the site but I also link him there so he can know I’m for real and he comes back “they’re lying”. The office of national statistics AND multiple rape support charities are lying? Jeez ok so I do some more googling and find out that it’s the same from all areas AND 90% of all attacks are from people close to the victim meaning it’s not just people arriving from overseas suddenly coming over here and raping the first person they see.

Well he’s not happy about that, he goes crazy. He is not a happy bunny. It doesn’t make any sense though, he had a fact but it turns out that fact is wrong and I’ve found, with very little research, the truth. You’d think he’d be happy that he hadn’t said it out loud at a party and really embarrassed himself right? But no he couldn’t fathom that Muslim immigrants, by definition, weren’t rapists. Sure some are but so many more white British nationals were that it would be more accurate to say “White British men are rapists except for these ones over here”.

We live in a world where you can’t avoid information, it takes effort to be ignorant. Even if all you did was watch TV every day you’d still get a reasonably balanced point of view so in order to be a bigot you have to specifically IGNORE ALL INFORMATION. Why would anyone do that? Why would someone ignore correct information? The answer, as with everything, is fear.

We’re afraid of responsibility.

We can’t get a job because of immigrants, not because we haven’t spent time getting the qualifications or getting out there and trying to get a job or even starting our own company, No it’s immigrants stealing what’s rightfully ours. There’s crime in the streets, can’t be other people like me because then one day it could be me so it must be those other people who don’t look like me. There’s a long waiting list for me to have a routine operation, can’t be the government I voted for because that would mean they weren’t everything they promised to be AND I WOULD BE WRONG so it must be immigrants.

We live in a world where we don’t take responsibility if we don’t have to and when presented with facts contrary to our opinion instead of saying “oh wow I didn’t see it that way before” we get angry because it must be wrong, we couldn’t possibly be wrong it must be the facts. IF I’M WRONG ABOUT THIS WHAT ELSE AM I WRONG ABOUT OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME? There’s no God and the church covered up sexual abuse of minors? I REFUSE TO LISTEN!

It’s not just the right that’s like this, it’s the left as well. Here’s an article about how women empowering their sexuality is transphobic if that sentence made your head explode that’s because it’s ridiculous. Sure we’ve got a long way to go until LGBTQ rights are established and they’ve had a long hard slog of it but that doesn’t give anyone the right to take away someone else’s identity WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE SAYING IS HAPPENING TO THEM! They don’t want to take responsibility for their own feelings, it’s easier to say “I feel offended, it must be those people who are offending me” rather than “Everyone has a right to feel empowered about themselves”. God forbid we ever let people feel comfortable in their own skin when we’re still struggling with our own identities, am I right guys/girls/other!

People say we’re post truth, that we live in a time where everyone can believe whatever they want and fake news is just as valid as real news in the general populace’s eyes but I say that’s inaccurate. We don’t want to know that the reason we feel this way is due to our own insecurities, we don’t care that actually we’re projecting onto a group or individual just to make our own fragility justified.

We’re not post truth, we’re post responsibility.

I’m not like you

Don’t look at my skin and think that I’m like you. Don’t say it’s ok to be racist and suggest I do racist jokes because “they’ll find it funny too”. Don’t say “you don’t need to be PC here” when talking about treating people with a different ethnicity as equals. 

Don’t look at my gender and assume I think it’s ok to treat women as second class citizens, don’t shush a woman in a conversation with “shhh love men talking” and expect me not to verbally dress you down for your obvious misogyny. 

Don’t look at my body shape and assume I’ll be ok with you calling me and everyone else fat or thin or any other derogatory term you can think of for someone who doesn’t look like you and if we’re being honest you could stand to lose a few pounds too.

Don’t look at anything about me and assume I want to be a part of your hate filled world. When challenged don’t make out like it’s “just a joke” because I can show you millions of people repressed by those so called jokes.

In fact the only thing you should do is educate yourself or shut the fuck up. 

Being too social

First off sorry about the lack of blogging, there are now over 5000 (closer to 10,000 including all the other places this goes) of you and it’s ridiculous for me to leave it months without updating. I will be rectifying that. Thank you to everyone that’s hung on though, I’ll make sure it’s worth it.

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(worth it, right?)

Secondly a confession. I am a social media whore. I have a hole inside me that can only be filled by sharing my whole world with friends, family and complete strangers. What this has done is severely reduced my productivity (NO WAY! SPENDING TIME NOT WORKING IS REDUCING YOUR PRODUCTIVITY!? WHAT IN THE HELL?!). I’m not the only one, people the world over waste time on the countless forms of social media just clicking through the same 3 pages hoping for notifications to pop up of people interacting with their cat photos and undereducated semi political messages

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(#jesuislettuce)

There have been countless studies on it, many of them funded by the platforms themselves in order to find out how to keep people on those very sites, and they all come to the same conclusion: we are lonely.

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(nothing good happened in this picture, everything about this photo tells me the story ends with a phonecall and crying)

We want to reach out and find people who like the same things as us, people who can define us as individuals as well as providing us with the comfort of a herd. It’s hard to know who you really are in a vacuum (MAINLY DUE TO THE NOISE, AM I RIGHT?! *HIGH FIVES*) so to have a large group of people constantly able to tell you that yes you are right dirty foreigners should go home to their own country or no you shouldn’t have to work for a living, everything should be right there on a plate for you means that you can say “That’s who I am! I am a lazy, entitled, racist!” it’s not great but at least you know. No one likes uncertainty

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(well some people do, some people use it to cement their position but then I’m using the term people loosely)

and that’s the main problem with social media, it can be a great tool for communication and spreading the word or getting behind a cause but mostly it’s a catalyst for narcissism and rampant paranoia.  Even this post is a massive display of arrogance and self importance, what do you care about a fat guy who’s trying to distance himself from social media? You don’t! Or rather you shouldn’t because really all we’re doing is creating little groups of people all thinking they’re right then being completely surprised that there’s other people with different ideas. We’re isolating ourselves.

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(and we all know how that turns out, Pauly Shore cries himself to sleep every night)

and that isolation is a terrible thing. Just days ago was the 2 year anniversary of Robin Williams suicide, as I’ve said on here before Robin is the reason I do comedy and it hit me hard. Whenever anyone takes their own life it’s a terrible thing, it means that person can see no other future ahead except pain and they don’t want it. I tried it once, spoiler alert: I failed, and only by talking about it did I get over it. Talking is a great tool for getting over depression so here’s a video of me talking about it so other people can feel like it’s ok to talk about it Talking about suicide but with jokes

But it can go the other way, people reach out and no one reaches back or even worse people think it’s ok to abuse other people because it makes them feel better, this in turn isolates the person being bullied further. Again this has become the majority of interaction over and above supportive messages on social media which just goes to prove that if you leave humans with any kind of wonderous new discovery they’ll find a way to be an asshole with it.

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(hey guys I’ve got this thing that makes the food taste better and means we don’t get poisoned by it, it makes it hot, what are you doing guys? GUYS?!)

Really what I’m saying is I’m pulling out of most of social media unless it’s to interact with people who want to come to a show. That does mean I’ll have more time to make shit and update this so hurray to anyone who cares. It’s easy to get lost in the great echo chamber and as Jean-Paul Sartre gets famously misquoted on “Hell is other people”

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(proof)

There’s a monster inside of me

There’s a monster inside of me that very rarely comes out. It’s kept bound and chained deep within my subconscious, only surfacing when particular circumstances occur. I believe everyone has one of these monsters, one they don’t like to admit to and when confronted with will attribute it’s behaviour to tiredness or their long battle against a meow meow addiction.

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(am I doing this right?)

I am talking, of course, about the terror that is intolerance. Now I’m not talking about racial intolerance here, I don’t think everyone is naturally racist, there isn’t a little Hitler bubbling underneath that friendly student barista who served you your double cream whipped hazelnut latte this morning. Well there might be but really it’s more likely that they’re massively homophobic.

We’re naturally intolerant as a species, intolerance is part of our massively successful ability to adapt. If we don’t like something we either kill it, pave over the top of it or move away from it claiming we didn’t like the neighbourhood anyway. Even the religions we put in place as a species supposedly giving people a bigger reason beyond survival to bond together create greater intolerances and imaginary boundaries.

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(Pictured: Tolerance)

But the intolerances we individually have are always so much smaller than any of these, so inconsequential to daily life that we refuse to acknowledge them to others for fear of seeming petty. As I haven’t cared about any of the laundry I regularly air in public for some time here’s a list of things that currently push me closer to a rage fuelled, spade wielding, massacre:

  • Any land line phone calls – It’s 2014, I shouldn’t have to get up to answer a phone call. If you’re calling my landline you’re either trying to sell me something or chasing a bill I haven’t paid yet. Either way I don’t need you phoning me about it and ruining my Ray Donovan marathon.
  • Anyone unexpectedly knocking on my front door – Similar to the phone call only this time you’ve decided to invade my personal space, I’ll take this as a direct threat to my safety and react accordingly. Expect maniacal verbal abuse and/or violence.
  • Your dog sniffing my crotch – I don’t own a dog. I don’t want a dog. I don’t like strangers smelling my crotch. If a stranger greeted me by sniffing my gonads I’d lash out. I will not be flattered that “he likes me” or “he’s not normally this well behaved around men” in the same way I wouldn’t be flattered by the cashier at Tesco licking my face.

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(Hahaha awww I love the taste of Boneo and canine anus)

  • Smoking in the street – It’s been proven that smoking is bad for you in the same way that ingesting printer toner is bad for you. I have chosen not to smoke, so have my kids by default, you walking along with your cloud of cancer fuel isn’t helping us avoid that. In the same way that I don’t take a spray can of bleach and liberally douse everyone I meet with it, I don’t expect you to fill my lungs with your bad decisions. I don’t fill your lungs with my overdue credit card bill.
  • Saying you don’t read books – Don’t embrace your ignorance, millions of people all over the world would love to have the opportunity to read the great works of literature and yet you turn your nose up at them saying you’ll “wait for the movie”! What’s wrong with you?! Not reading books reduces your cultural experience to things other people choose for you, you know who only has things other people choose for them? Babies. Well done you’re successfully at the same intellectual level as someone who is fed from a nipple and shits themselves. Good luck in the boardroom.

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(Are those pesky thoughts keeping you awake? Awww here let me take away all those nasty decisions you have to make)

The thing is these intolerances define me as a person. I don’t mind telling you guys that these things all wind me up to monstrous proportions and given a combination of all five would send me spiralling into a typhoon of vitriolic diatribe (keep up non readers) and possible violent explosions.

I’m pretty intolerant of the normal things too. Racism, homophobia, sexism, politicians I’m gluten intolerant about all of them but these are the tiny things that really set my brain on edge. I actively try to prevent the bigger things when I see it (and even through social slacktivism) but the little ones I’m more likely to experience and just mutter a curse under my breath and hope the perpetrator’s hair falls out overnight (90s cult film reference right there).