Posts Tagged ‘standup’


November 20, 2014

They say there are no atheists on a plane that’s going down.

And for all I know this may be true. I’ve only been scared on a plane once. We were coming in to land at John Lennon Airport from the west, over the Wirral and the Mersey and it wasn’t the most stable of approaches,  high crosswind and lashing rain complicating things. The plane was wobbling and veering, sliding sideways and a lot of people were indeed praying. I stayed calm, fuelled by the confidence of my little knowledge (of the proverbially dangerous sort) of aviation, then I caught a glimpse of the waves about twenty feet below us and suddenly thought “oh shit” and the next moment we landed perfectly fine.

It made me think though, how prepared am I for an emergency? We, seasoned travellers (note how much more glamorous this sounds than “immigrants commuting between their two homes”) all sit through them with a studied face of boredom but apparently those safety demos are important because in the panic of a real emergency people’s brains turn to jelly. They can’t think at all, they flail around mindlessly and they can’t even remember how to unbuckle their seat belts unless it’s drilled into them.

Now I’m not saying atheism is right, just that it’s not a very good argument for religion to say that this is the point where people suddenly turn to God.


October 24, 2013

Last night I dreamt that I was given a five-minute slot to do a stand-up gig. I went to watch someone but he got stuck in traffic and I had to jump in to kill some time until he arrived. But I had no material prepared, I’m not even a comedian, I kept saying to myself. And I’m really not.

So… I’ve decided to do a Stewart Lee impression. But I thought the best way to go about it is to make it sound nothing like Stewart Lee. Not just because I can’t really do impressions but also that’s what he’d do too. I know I’m writing this so you can’t… hear my voice… probably the best thing for you to do is to imagine a voice… that is nothing like Stewart Lee’s.

So in a way… this would sound more like Stewart Lee than actually sounding like Stewart Lee. Cos it’s what he’d do, it’s the sort of thing he plays with all the time. Well, not exactly this sort of thing but… similar things. And for that reason this could be funny. It really could.

It isn’t but it could.

Because what we find funny… is determined by mood and upbringing, right? Mood and upbringing. The comedian… the comedian doesn’t make you laugh, it’s you, the audience, who make yourself and each other laugh. The comedian’s job is simply to get you into the mood.

And pray that you’ve had an upbringing.

So just to give you an example of what I mean by mood and upbringing, I’m going to tell you a joke. And the joke goes like this: on a riverbank a fox and an otter share a joint. I… I have to admit, I feel a bit uneasy about this joke because it just… it can’t happen in real life, can it. I mean the fox… and the otter… how would such a thing even… how would they… you know, roll it and… it’s all wrong… but I had to go with this joke because this is the only joke I know.

So they share a joint but it’s the first time for the otter so he asks the fox how to do it. And the fox says, just inhale and keep it down for a long time. How long? Well, it’s difficult to tell but I’ll tell you what to do: inhale and then swim underwater to the other shore then exhale. So the fox takes a puff, the otter takes a puff too and sets off. After a couple of minutes a hippo pops up from under the water, and the fox panics: ‘Exhale, otter, EXHALE!’

Now this joke… this joke… imagine… if you were brought up in the knowledge that drugs were the handiwork of the Devil himself, right? You wouldn’t be able to find the joke funny at all.

In fact if anything, you’d find it terribly sad, the idea that this horrible blight on God’s creation has infected the hitherto pristine and clean animal world, who unlike us were believed to be sinless and the only reason they regularly kill each other in the most horrendous ways imaginable is simply that God’s mood … and of course upbringing… told Him that this was somehow… funny.

On the other hand, if you were… say… stoned, you’d find this joke absolutely hilarious. You couldn’t stop laughing. Granted, you’d find most things equally hilarious but that’d just make my job even easier. And that’s why I generally prefer my audience to be stoned.

And that feeling is usually mutual.

I… I’m being told he’s just arrived, so thank you and goodnight, you’ve been a lovely audience.

Get Up, Stand Up

August 5, 2009

“At the Guild of Fools and Joculators we discourage laughter. Joking is not a laughing matter. ”
Discworld Fools’ Guild Yearbook And Diary 2001

This is a good one.

Apparently you can actually earn a degree in Standup Comedy at the Southampton Solent University. (Formerly known as the Fox and Goose Pub, I guess.)

Brilliant tabloid fodder, surely “this is beyond a joke” and other, similarly hilarious phrases will be sprinkled liberally over coverages.

But there’s more to it than tomfoolery. What happens, for example, if you pass all your exams with flying colours, yet for some weird and inexplicable reason, completely fail to be funny? Do you still get the degree? If you don’t, that’s not really fair, is it? After all, you learned what you had been told to learn, it’s not your fault. But if you do, then your degree, like all degrees should mean that you can be a practitioner of that particular trade. Except that you can’t because you’re missing one (in fact the only) vital ingredient. What can you do with your degree then? Go into advertising or write for Jimmy Carr?

Maybe the whole subject is more serious than it sounds?

Or maybe they should just abandon the whole idea altogether and start a course on pub quizzes. A much simpler and teachable discipline: picture round, music round, general knowledge, snacks every half term, here’s your diploma and if you’re lucky on the raffle, you get your tuition fee back.