Thursday, 21 May 2009

Stand-up Comedian v Stand-up Medium

I’ve never really wanted, or thought for that matter, about getting up on stage and making an arse of meself, but a recent proposition has got me thinking.

A relative, rather forcibly, suggested that I should have a go at stand-up comedy. The fact that she had been drinking was irrelevant and considering the time the whole bizarre conversation took place it could have been taken as an unfortunate nightmare. Still, after a few hours sleep, some of what my cousin said did seem to make sense. Getting up and performing would be an ideal opportunity to test my ideas and characters in front of a live audience.

As a developing medium I regularly get up on an Open Platform night, in church, and give short demonstrations of my mediumistic skills. A comedy act in itself, really, where I’m involved! The “congregation” is fully aware that I’m still developing and of course, due to current legislative practices, such services have to carry a disclaimer of being an experiment. That’s a bit different to an audience looking to be entertained, but then that’s where the nerve hit…

Why is it that TV programmes involving my belief system and communication with the spirit world have to be labelled as “entertainment purposes only”? They’re not always entertaining and Spiritualism is a recognised religion. This got me seriously considering the proposition and confronting my own fears. Could I get up on stage and reflect a light hearted approach as to the possibility that there may be more substance to this form of new age entertainment? Not that I want to preach, but it’s something I could talk about. In a comedy club I wouldn’t get told off for using naughty words like incontinence and bugger, or have to worry about my teachers’ concerns about me flirting with the dearly departed. No joke, dead or alive, the presence of a tall, dark, handsome stranger gets me going every time. Just as well my faith appreciates good humour and doesn’t condemn sinners. Life is a learning experience and we all have our own unique paths to follow.

I’ve been mulling this over all day, and it seems this could be a way of testing a theory I have. Not given a definite answer yet, and will need to consider the material very carefully, but I’m given it some serious thought all the same.

12 comments:

  1. Do you have any control over who you make contact with? If it were the right bunch of people, I imagine the results could be hilarious.

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  2. He he - my cookie today says I'd make an excellent critic!

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  3. It's not the who, it's the why, Patsy. I've scared meself witless because I'm even considering such a proposition.

    You see, my cousin made a valid point about being able to test ideas, and she's one of a few that can keep up with me in chat. Actually, thinking about it, if she wasn't under the influence, she'd probably be faster. Not that she’s got a problem or anything, but you know me, Patsy, normally I have time to go to the loo, make a brew, or read a few emails whilst waiting for most to reply. Being a woman, I can multi task and, therefore, think at the same time, but not on this occasion.

    To be honest, I’m not sure I wanna get caught up in the glare of the lights, again. Remember what happened with Mister Valance's interview? Too hot, the chocolate melted and the critics said it was too long!

    All I wanna do is write, have a house by the sea, with a hot and sexy man who'll bonk me senseless when I'm not writing. Oh... and maybe make the odd cup of tea when he's not recovering from exerting himself. Is that too much to ask?

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  4. And a very fine critic you are, Patsy. You always give very helpful constructive advice, which is much appreciated.

    Today my cookie says: "Your pursuit of happiness is an endless trail of good humor and pleasure".

    I think there should have been a U in there! Never mind, I'll look forward to an endless trail of pleasure.

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  5. I agree with Patsy, in the right situation I’m sure you’d breeze it, but it really does depend on your audience. A safer bet would be to experiment a little more with the comedy content in your church sessions, and see how well it’s received. There, you have the advantages of having goodwill on your side, a familiar audience and a set routine you can build on. If it goes well it’ll give you the confidence to build some more. You can’t lose, because if, at any time, you sense that you might be pushing your luck, you have a safety net – just revert to plan B and stick to the usual patter. Look at Richard Digance, who was a regular on the folk music circuit. He played it straight, until lapses into comedy set him on the road to fame.

    Jumping in at the deep end is trickier, but a wig, a bit of front, and a new ID (How about ‘Patsy’?), takes care of some of the problems. The hardest part could be adapting your material to suit your audience. I imagine a social club audience, for instance, would be more receptive to no-holds-barred send-up, than a lecture with added touches of comedy, but is that a line you’re willing to cross, and is that something you could you do comfortably?

    It’s your choice to make, but I think you should take it one step at a time and see how far you can go in your own territory first. Besides, after what you said about ‘humor,’ it would appear that very same message is written in the stars.

    Humor, of course, is an American spelling. Your reference to the ‘missing’ letter reminds of a sign often seen outside churches… ‘Ch__ch – what’s missing?’

    With that in mind JJ, I pose this question to you… ‘Humo_r – what’s missing?’

    Coincidence? Or fate?

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  6. Mister Valance... My demonstrations of communication with the spirit world are not meant to be a comedy act. It just happens that way, sometimes. As I said, before, in church we have to say it's an experiment, but it's certainly not for entertainment purposes. They say like attracts like, so I usually get good humoured communicators who can, shall we say, sing from the same hymn book as me. I guess the comedy is in the development and my own personal approach, not the actual demonstration or the messages I convey.

    I don’t usually remember much after a demonstration, but some things stick in my mind, especially when it adds a new translation to my dictionary. You see, when I’m working, I don’t usually physically see or hear the spirits. I tend to work more with symbols and feelings so I have to translate what I’m sensing to convey a message the person in the “audience” will hopefully understand. It’s not for me to know or understand, and I don’t pick up on anyone’s deep and darkest secrets. It can get a bit tricky sometimes, but my dictionary is growing all the time with the development process and my life experiences.

    Some of my more memorable moments on the platform include getting my bum pinched and getting a stern telling off for mentioning a certain well known phrase associated with men under the influence of too much beer. Thankfully, the latter was in a workshop and the comedy value was appreciated.

    There is no safety net in church, only faith, and I get up on the platform with no script or routine. Not really the best training ground for a stand-up comedian.

    I guess my idea is to consider how I do what I do as being the entertaining factor, and isn’t that what most comedians do… make fun of themselves?

    This opportunity arose because of a combination of coincidences and could certainly be considered a fate for an approaching rebirth. I just have to hope the birth canal has no u-bend in it.

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  7. Rather than trying a routine in church, could you arrange a social event before or after the service and give it a go then?

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  8. I know, and it's all part of the research process. You see, ultimately I wanna write, because I enjoy the creative process. I have no desire to be famous, already infamous, so my motivation to do stand-up would not be as high as a performer's. Does that make sense?

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  9. No. I thought you were contemplating doing a stand-up comedy spot. Now it seems like you're talking yourself out of the idea.

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  10. The argument for doing it would be to test ideas. It takes a lot of work to be up there in front of an audience, and I just want to be a writer, not a performer.

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