MY Comic Life – Bradford Literary Festival, Birmingham Pride and a Bleeding Mouth!

The life of a comic can be varied if nothing else from appearing alongside Frank Sanazi (think Frank Sinatra but a Nazi) to performing at Birmingham Pride and in a kebab restaurant in East London.  Unfortunately a dental emergency scuttles my plans to gig in salubrious Stockport!

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Got quite a few gigs come in which is always the more preferable option for getting work compared to the far less attractive prospect of contacting promoters and asking for them! (Without a doubt my least favourite aspect of the job along with dying on stage). And a nice range of gigs as well from appearing with Frank Sanazi (as the name implies he’s Frank Sinatra but a Nazi) in salubrious Lewisham to performing at the Greenwich Theatre alongside Mark Dolan and Richard Herring at the Greenwich Theatre.

The last 10 days or so has also seen the first night of a new comedy club in Soho – Queens of Comedy which is exactly what it says on the tin (well to be more precise what it says on its Facebook page) – a night of comedy with Gays, Girls & Giggles. The best in camp comedy. I had the good fortune to close the inaugural night and the additional good fortune of being asked to be the resident MC, whenever Mr Chris Fitchew is away. This means this Thursday I’m on with some great acts in the form of Tom Allen and Jo Caulfield.

The last 10 days or so has also seen three nights take place which I was asked to organise and where, not surprisingly, I booked myself in as MC. (To be honest, I’m very good at giving myself work!) The first one was at the Bradford Literary Festival. It was the first full year of the Festival but you wouldn’t have known. Wonderfully organised with a breadth of events that was outstanding, it made me regret I was just going up there for the gig. The gig itself was packed, the venue perfect and welcoming and to top it all the audience was lovely. All in all an ideal combination.

Monday saw the first comedy show at a really popular restaurant in East London, Yasar’s. Despite the fact it was a Monday night, the place was packed and it was a right laugh for both the audience and the acts alike. The food there is divine so the comics also had the added advantage of a free meal which headliner, Shazia Mirza, made the most of by taking a doggy bag home with her! I would have done so too but as anyone who knows me can testify, the chances of me leaving any food on my plate (unless it’s salad) is minimal.

Last but not least Bank Holiday Monday saw me performing at Giggle at The Fox in Birmingham to celebrate Birmingham Pride. An annual event now for the last few years thanks to the tireless support of The Fox’s landlord Andy, it’s always a fun night. Andy is generous enough to support the night from his own pocket so he can provide a free comedy show for all his punters. And for comics it’s a great gig, not just because the audience are up for it, but because it’s a well-paid Monday gig (which are generally few and far between) but also because it starts at 6 and ends by 8:30 so as a comic you’re finished by 8:30 in the evening which is UNHEARD of!

The one fly in the ointment was that my abscess returned (and if you’ve never had an abscess I would seriously not recommend them. They HURT like hell). It started Thursday, so Thursday night I had the dubious pleasure of emceeing a very well-established and much respected try out night at Downstairs at the Kings Head while pretending that the painkillers had kicked in and that I wasn’t in pain.

Then after a night of being unable to sleep due to the small matter of being in agony and knowing that I was booked onto a Megabus (oh the glamour) to Manchester later that afternoon, I ended up at my dentist’s more or less in tears (OK, in tears) an hour before he opened. The plan was that I should get seen early enough so I could still make my coach. As my dentist is based on the other side of London from me, that’s no mean feat. (This time being in acute pain and therefore unable to sleep really helped in being ready on time).

In the end the tooth had to come out. Now if you’ve had the good fortune of never having had to have an injection through the roof of your mouth and behind your nose, all I can say is lucky you. Take my word for it: it is bloody agony. Anyway this is where the downside of being self-employed comes in. Having left the dentist with some gauze lodged in the gap where my tooth had once been to stop the bleeding, feeling dazed and rather sorry for myself and not forgetting, absolutely knackered as by now I hadn’t slept for over 30 hours, I made my way to Victoria Coach Station to catch my bus, counting the minutes till I could take the gauze out of mouth and get my hands on the painkillers. (I wasn’t allowed to touch them for another hour and a half). Now clearly all I wanted to do was to go to bed and sleep. If I had a job that paid sick pay, I clearly wouldn’t have thought twice about it and done precisely that. But when you’re self-employed, you automatically think twice. There is always the money aspect. You don’t gig, you don’t get paid. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to work that one out.

However when you’re also a performer a sense of professionalism also kicks in. As an act, the last thing you want is to get a reputation for being unreliable. And pulling out of an out-of-town gig on a Friday morning for a gig later that night is not ideal news for any promoter to put it mildly. Furthermore, I also knew that people had bought tickets to the show especially to see me. As I felt this might be a rather rare occurrence, I didn’t want to let them down either.   I knew for certain they had done this as they’d Facebooked me the day before to let me know. They’d seen me at the Queens of Comedy gig the week before, were based however in Manchester and were keen to watch me again (despite – I hasten to add – me warning them it would no doubt be the same jokes though possibly in a different order).

Fortunately for me the promoter in question rang me up before I boarded the bus and told me in no uncertain terms to go home, as I was in no state to do the gig. It probably helped that I sounded awful though fortunately for our conversation I had removed the gauze from my mouth by then. He was right of course. I was physically shattered and a 5 ½ hour coach journey in a Megabus wouldn’t have necessarily helped matters. I went home, took the painkillers and slept! It turns out sometimes it’s best for the performer, promoter and audience if the show doesn’t go on – at least in its original format!

However, true to form, I was back gigging at the Kings Head the next day and had a stormer of a gig despite being drugged up to the nines on painkillers and feeling shite off stage. There is something about being on stage – maybe it’s the adrenalin – where you feel a lot better on it than you do off.

So all in all an eventful 10 days or so. Let’s hope the next 10 prove just as eclectic though preferably without any new, dental emergencies!

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One Comment

  1. Always a pleasure to read you Maureen, makes me giggle and squirm with pain (at the thought of the abscess and dentists’ injections). Very glad I never got the word ‘abscess’ in a spelling bee as I’d have failed miserably. I hope you’re all better now.

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