I’m starting a stand-up comedy course in a few weeks. This may surprise you, coming from somebody who rarely shows his extroverted side except when drunk and there’s karaoke in the vicinity. But it’s good to scare the shit out of yourself once in a while, and part of the reason why I want to do it is that the mere idea of performing stand-up is absolutely terrifying. Just this last week I’ve gone through three packs of Imodium, and I haven’t even started the course yet.
I’m not sure I want to forge a career as a stand-up comedian. Plenty of people try, and most of them fail dismally. And the pay is shit - starting out at zero, and staying that way for quite a long time. But it’s a good challenge. If I can make a room full of people laugh - or more likely, bring a slight chuckle to five bored strangers in a room above a dingy pub on a weekday night - I can pretty much do anything. Except fly. Or turn invisible.
The thing is I’ve always enjoyed writing comedy, and I think I could possibly get fairly good at it. Unfortunately I also enjoy lounging around, drinking beer and farting, which is somewhat easier.
What I need is a way of forcing me to write, and hopefully the stand-up course should be a way of doing that. Otherwise there will be a lot of umming, erring, apologies and booing when I take to the stage.
So, by way of warm-up, I’m sort-of resurrecting my old “And Alex Said…” column here on this blog. Many years ago, I used to write this column in Felix, the Imperial College student newspaper. Each week I would write crap on a particular topic. I found it quite difficult at first, but as I continued doing it I found it easier and easier to write crap.
Of course, resurrecting the column in blog format means I won’t be living with the fear of there being a big blank space on page 3 come Friday morning, and there are no arbitrary word limits. This gives me a bit of flexibility, although given that it was the discipline that made me write anything anyway, things may be a bit harder this time round.
The only thing forcing me to write will be the embarrassment of having written this blog post saying I was going to finally write some stuff regularly, and also the dawning realisation that I’ll be trying to do stand-up without having any decent material whatsoever.
But then that never stopped Jim Davidson.