Next Thursday, September 19th, I will be standing on a stage in front of 200 people performing a stand-up comedy routine I have written myself.
The reality of what I have agreed to do hasn’t quite kicked in yet. I’m sure it will around two hours before the event is about to start, when I’ll start shaking uncontrollably and looking shiftily towards the exits for a way out.
I can’t pretend I’ve not had enough notice, as I agreed to do this over a year ago. The comedy challenge is for charity, in aid of Wirral Mencap, and is held every year. I would have taken part in last year’s challenge if it weren’t for some personal matters that were going on (things that, actually, would make for great material now). Therefore ,I agreed to do it for the following year, safe in the knowledge that something over 12 months away was far enough in the distance I wouldn’t need to worry about it.
That “12 months away” is now next week, and I’m not certain I’m quite ready.
I have been tentatively writing the routine for the last 12 months, going over amusing stories I believe I could make into very funny ones and working out ways to link them. My comedy is intended to be a sequence of stories, rather than a series of jokes. I don’t really do jokes, so hopefully it will still be amusing for the audience.
I have been studying some stand-up comedians, such as Micky Flannagan and his ridiculous self-deprecating stories, and Ed Gamble and his style of delivery. I’m probably going to more resemble an angry Rhod Gilbert, if I’m honest.
One of the main reasons I wanted to do this, apart from supporting the charity of course, was because the challenge included a number of training sessions with a professional comedian. As someone who likes to present, and has always liked to talk in front of an audience, I believe the sessions with a comedian are invaluable to self-development. The chance to learn from a stand-up comic on how to act on a stage in front of a large group of people was something that really appealed to me. I would have happily paid for that sort of tuition.
I have now completed the training sessions, and have had the opportunity to perform and perfect my routine over and over again, receiving feedback from the other amateur comedians and from the professional. One of the best pieces of advice I received was not about what I say, or even how to say it, but about the body language I use while performing. How you move, or rather do not move, adds to what you’re saying. After recording one of my rehearsals and playing it back I found I was moving around like I was trying to break free from invisible restraints. I now have to work on remaining still when it is necessary to do so, and moving only when it is required.
Control my movements and my stories will have more impact and, hopefully, be funnier.
The stand-up comedy challenge takes place on Thursday 19th September, at 7:00 pm, in the Prenton Suite at Tranmere Rovers’ football ground Prenton Park. I’ll be on stage sometime after that. If you’d like to come along, you can book tickets here. If you’d like to sponsor me, and please do, you can donate money here.
I hope to see you there. Bring your own fruit!
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