At first, it’s awkward, then a little familiar, but if you don’t keep a close eye on it, it can tell you to move out and warn you never to try and contact it via its mother.
And like the incongruent facade of everyday courting, comedy is very match a game of cat-mouse-promoter. Can you impress a crowd of people immediately, can you keep the crowd interested, can you give them your number and they’ll call you back three days later asking when the next gig is?
I hate dating. I form relationships with people I can relate to, but if I can’t “get” someone the first time I might as well try to wrangle emotion from a cooking pot in Brazil.
So why can’t we skip to the relationship part?
You know you’re in a relationship when you can make that transition of starting your day with someone by saying, “Good day, how do you do?”, and move on to the best of speeches first thing in the morning, the eloquent yet subtle threesome-hinting, “Hey, sexy, when’s your mom coming over? She could bake a cake for us, y’know? Make the place smell nice, eh?”
When a new comedian struts onto the stage, nobody knows him and no one cares. They have no reason to, and for that 5 minutes he’s on stage, he needs to give the entire audience that beautiful emotional connection we all suffer from similarly in personal relationships… to make an entire crowd give a f*** and, for what it’s worth that evening, laugh like crack-addicted hyenas.
That’s a great start to a funky courtship.
We feel it when we get off-stage and audience members slap us on the shoulder or shake our hand afterwards. It’s an AMAZING feeling once we’ve performed a killer set, having Nancy who lives 100 kilometres away, attended the show by happenstance and approach me afterwards with the words…
“I wish you were my boyfriend.”
But, for the many and the not too few, just being likeable is our biggest hurdle we first have to overcome. Just like Wayne Rooney and his ugly face.
To explain, I bemoan this Atlas-style weight on my own persona yet love the self-imposed social exile, but I do enjoy the company of people so long as I relate to them, and therein lies my own natural flaw. If I can’t relate to everybody, everybody can’t relate to me, and so on.
And therein lies the difference between success and obscurity.
To the average I’m-not-doing-this-to-be-famous comedian who is only doing this “for a laugh”, he must be ticking all the box on the application form they handed to him at comedy school:
“You don’t know how to speak to people.” Tick.
“You’re never going to open up your vulnerability to everybody.” Tick.
“You won’t bother to search within yourself for the answers.” Tick.
“Congratulations, you’re a mediocre comedian. Please agree.” Tick.
And it’s a easy trap to fall in.
So back to the golden cow of an analogy I began with: what makes look like you’re good in the sack to one lady, a sack of opportunity to a promoter, and a laughable sack of amaze-balls to a throng of people seeking a new hero? Your eyes, nose, mouth? Torso, legs, arms? Your speech, your laugh, your witticisms and banter? Do you feel confident, or are you playing the subdued type? Is it tumultuous even for you to flourish as an excitable human being in the notion that people might be put off with your energy, or do you feel they’ll accept you as a tiny footnote in their personal history?
With all the rules we follow to learn how to make a night special, winning the popularity contest is just as important as being funny. But you don’t really have to bulk up and perform cosmetic surgery with cellotape on your nose to straighten it up. You just need a SELLING POINT, that one beautiful feature that will get the crowds coming to the show to watch you make a mockery of the English language and teaching dumb people dumber things.
And it’s the same with the opposite sex (or same sex, I can’t keep up). They need to know what makes you YOU.
Don’t try and mimic the same that walk around meandering through life with half-eaten prepositions and constant of the word, “umm”, find the true you, feel naked, stand up, be counted, and then throw away the box with the ballots in. Your uniqueness stands you above what the others make you. “Oh look, he’s another comedian.”
Yes but NEVER! You’re a f***ing FUNNY comedian with something unique with which to make people laugh!
FINDING YOUR HOLY GRAIL
Seth Godin put it straight in his “Ideavirus” booklet he gave away on his website (in an interview, “At first it hit 3000 downloads, which isn’t a lot.” – shuddup). It’s selling your idea of yourself to the crowd in order for it to spread around until everyone want to knows about it. Kunt and the Gang is a prime example.
This man fills a very unique niche, if you ever get a chance to see him live. He stands up on stage, wearing a tracksuit and a ridiculous wig, has a gold tooth, bit of a geezer, plays karaoke-style background music and sings atrociously about private parts and masturbation. I like to call his work “clunge comedy”. It’s Bernard Manning for sex with shitty puppets.
And the bugger sells out rooms each and every time.
Kunt himself is a decent bloke but still a dirty git, he’s just found it ridiculously easier being himself and playing to the narcissism and backward behaviour of the crowd who feel too spoonfed by the media in terms of “what’s appropriate” and are shouting internal, “Even liberalism can get dull once in a while, you know!”
If there’s something missing from your character that you feel, should you have the courage to dig it out from deep within that dark mire of a soul that festers under the ambiguity of your existence, it’s time to stand back, look at yourself whenever you’re up there wasting people’s time and ask yourself:
“Who the hell am I?
‘Cos I tell you, if you’re going to continue down this path selling yourself short trying to woo every Martha and Stacy who walks over you like a beige coat with spare change in a pocket with a hole it, you’re going to end up what I fear to become…
So I’m living the post holiday blues, and when your birthday’s in the middle of the year, like mine, you tend to see every milestone as a bout of renewal. 6 months down the line from the anniversary of your birth, you share in the same period of coming together with family and friends that everyone mills around on, like flies on a cake.
While I was away in London, my mother grew up and became a savvy granny.
She’s a 71 year-old Margaret Thatcher matriarch of the Portuguese community within Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs, with fellow residents from as far afield as Paarl travelling down to get their age-old sequin dresses hemmed and stitched by her soft and wrinkled yet experienced hands. She doesn’t quite skateboard down steep hills or listen to thrash metal locked away in her bedroom but, like a teenager squabbling to her parents for the next Nokia, she seeks out new experiences with youthful aplomb. Keep Reading
I think about what I want or don’t want from comedy, and I find that I do this little thing and enjoy the standing up in front of a strange crowd, telling jokes about my past awkwardness and misadventures, while at the same time edge quietly towards being edgy as a host, but I’ve got the feeling my public persona doesn’t fit a profile that either hits the mainstream hard or swims in the obscurity of cult status.
So, to explain my motives, here are my ambitions and avoidances of Comedy:
DO: want to eventually be performing in front of big crowds. I feel at home with a lot of people warmed up to the idea of a stock comedian making them laugh.
DON’T: want to continue into my 70’s performing in front of tiny open-mic crowds.
DO: want to work with talented people I gel with, to brainstorm awesome ideas and create a semblance of community that serves the general public in many forms of entertainment.
DON’T: want to work with guys looking for a quick jump-start to short-term fame.
DO: want to develop television or radio schemes with others and be part of a creative group with resources to turn it around in a short space of time. I’ve already written a few, need to start pitching it to a talented guy I’ve recently met.
DON’T: want to agree to flimsy promises that never take fruit thanks to ignorance.
DO: want to write for a magazine, newspaper or website that accepts my unexplored views on everything from life, love to laundry.
DON’T: want to be limited only to this blog.
DO: want to make the people I love proud, to show that their support for my abilities aren’t unfounded and that they can share in the fruits of my efforts in hichever way they wish.
DON’T: want to be told I’ll never make something of myself because I’m white, single, foreign or never attained a degree/diploma (that one was based on funds).
DO: want to “stand before kings, and leave a name to be remembered.” – Benjamin Franklin
There are few subjects I can usually relate to people about. Sports are as functional to me as sex, I just don’t know the people performing in both. Even an ex-girlfriend successfully stood me up when I tried to open up the fuel-tank for a van I hired to move home.
But I love Star Trek…hold onto your ridges, Mister Worf. Keep Reading
And a wonderful to you all from a finally overcast Cape Town, South Africa.
From my little room I share in my brother’s wonderful house in the suburbs, I woke up dazed and confused early this morning to find two things that perplexes even the most astute of single gentlemen that walk the earth as directionless as I am:
1. A phone call from my sister demonstrating a cheap car on Gumtree called a Ford Lazer (yes, I write this wishing I could show my fingers making the Dr. evil signature move)
2. A black cat called Peanut licking itself in area devoid of appropriate testicular contents.
It’s been a surreal week and a half getting to know my family once again, regaling them with wonderful anecdotes of stories from the colonial master land that is the United Kingdom, and wishing them health and love as best I can without sounding TOO droll. As yet, I have not had the chance to meet up with old friends due to a distinct lack of transport (public utilities usually consists of a man driving a van with a monkey-wrench for a steering wheel) but when I do, I hope it will be fun and interesting.
And yes, hun, I’m still waiting for you to answer.
Monday night saw me perform my first set for over a year at a lovely little bar in Rondebosch, expecting droves of UCT students eager to giggle their sides, and to be fair the 10 guys staring at me gave me the challenge I wanted most: a chance to test my mettle as a all-round entertainer.
And true to their word, they tested me.
Still, it was nice to walk off stage and blokes coming up afterwards saying, “China, you was ace, eh?” followed by a handshake and a shoulder-bump, a clear sign of me being accepted into the audience acumen of approval.
Ever been shoulder-bumped? It’s like an audience Jay Leno nodding and saying you’ll go far.
So today I’ll be setting up a portfolio of shots thanks to a wonderful photographer I know, looking for menial work, openings up the money-grubbing bank account and reading up on the day’s stories for new and exciting material, to mold and shape it into wonderful jokes that will leave them thinking that their lives can be for the better if they look past the errors of yesteryear and just accept that inside, we…are all…pink.
Cape Town, bring it on.
See me Thursday night at the Chilli Bar in Southfield where I’ll be sweating it yet again.
I live without a title all my life, and I’m still looking for work. Yet you can call me sir.
I see a fresh new yellow-brick wall in front of me, a stark contrast of the life I’ve been living for many years now. I wrote in pieces of paper, “Beginning”, “Development” and “Conclusion” and I’ve stuck them to this very same wall, hoping that the words may empower me in some bizarre Ancient Egyptian incantation that encompasses my entire being.
I’m talking bullshit, this is my brother’s room in his house and the only thing encompassing me is a hug from my mother tomorrow.
I’ve laid out the photographs of all the important people in my life in front of me, my parents and nephews/niece, I’ve laid the iPad next to me like it’s going to spring out a great idea that only digital media gurus can conjure. A glass of mediocre red lays half-drunk and my tongue feels like its berry goodness has already stained it with the shame of self-defeat.
My breath stinks of smoke. It must be from all the rolled cigarettes I’ve forced myself to ingest. Poor me.
The soundtrack to “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” is playing through tinny speakers on the desk which, too, shares the space for my affections. You know what, I have tried and successfully “attempted” to write something creative, a bleak outline of my only year in CityVarsity, a city college I attended back in 1999 in Cape Town, which really opened my eyes to progressive society that lay beyond the walls of suburbia and all the racism I swam through.
I also found out that my dad is extremely funny and quick-witted, and I’m so glad I’ve spent time with him. He is a genuinely warm and funny man, and my mom is the same person that throws up jibes that, had you been in her company were you down in the dumps, could’ve encouraged you to jump in the lake for her lack of empathy but yet her warm embrace which melted many a chill.
Yes, people, I’m back with my family…and by golly gosh, I’m loving it so far.
Now, can that person please call me back so I can work, earn money, get a car and do f***cking comedy?!!!!!
Remember the days when you knew the birthday of your closest relatives and friends based solely on your relationship and proximity with them?
Like, your actual relatives and friends, not Facebook followers?
For years I spent wishing people “Merry Christmas” on friends’ Facebook walls as a constant parody of the blasé attitude people have towards the constant childhood need to be recognised as the lucky sperm that made it, thankfully not wiped away with a tissue or swallowed, which put me in a position not to offend anybody by relying on the social networks to remember those incredible moments in OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES.
But I still do remember before we even had portable telephones in our pockets the important ones, the days we truly wished each other well on the day we realise we survived another year on this planet.
My mom’s, for example, I remember constantly growing up as she received phonecalls from people in the community, which to me was akin to a personal status update. Or my very very FIRST girlfriend’s just cos from age 8 to 12 I really liked her, to the lady that broke my heart as it soon before her 21st we got together.
I remember THOSE birthdays, but for the life of me I can’t recall anybody else’s, even my nephews (sorry boys and girl, I’m coming back to rectify that).
So today is both my sister-in-law’s and my housemate’s birthday, which I remember from last year where I quipped about it over the kitchen table and he went, “Oh yeah?” and returned to his conversation with a hot girl on Facebook chat, but as per usual I’d forgotten a card.
Or should I leave a card for a male housemate to a male housemate? Is that really appropriate to actually go out into a shop and pick up a birthday card for a male? Not a best friend, but a man sharing my house with me, that is a friend and a comedy colleague.
To me, I would say I’d have the same relationship as if I sent him a text message with an “x” at the end of it, and thankfully that is not what I do.
Nor would I do it…for he shall look at me like I’ve been painting “I love ####” all over my chalkboard with the door closed while listening to Celine Dion.
Celine specifically cos they’re both Canadian.
No, his day will be spent getting lurid messages from friends and colleagues and I’ll probably just come home with a few beers.