I am going to be performing some stand-up comedy this week, next week and the week after. I am trying not to shit myself too much…
Thursday 29th November: Monkey Business Upstairs at O’Reilly’s, 289-291 Kentish Town Road NW5 2JS Doors open 8pm. Nearest tube is Kentish Town. No idea how much the tickets are but they’re probably not very much. You’ll get to see quite a lot of acts for your money anyway.
Wednesday 5th December: Amused Moose Course showcase thing Here are the details from the Amused Moose site:
AmusedMooseCamden presents the Stand Up & Deliver comedy course Graduates Showcase, hosted by Logan Murray as RONNIE RIGSBY, who welcomes comedy course graduates ALEX WARREN, ANDY SMITH, ANNABEL GABA, CHRIS ALLEN, DAN BRAUNSTEIN, DAN McBREARTY, DOUG DAVERN and EMMA CHI to the stage.
Doors open at 7.45 - you are recommended to be prompt; showtime is 8.15pm
Dining available beforehand.
Venue: Comedy Cellar of The Washington, 50 Englands Lane, NW3 4UE (Right out of Chalk Farm tube then right at traffic lights).
£4 + £1 AmusedMooseComedy lifetime membership. Booking is strongly advised on 020 7287 3727
Thursday 13th December: Monkey Business Upstairs at O’Reilly’s, 289-291 Kentish Town Road NW5 2JS Doors open 8pm. Nearest tube is Kentish Town. I’ll try and do a different set for this one.
I’d love to be able to sleep all day. Well, not really all day - that’s technically a coma. That would just upset my family, and I’d miss Dragon’s Den.
Getting up at 7am is uncomfortable and surely unnatural. If my body was supposed to get up early in the morning, it would feel good, just like eating and sex. Animals just get up when they want - dogs don’t have alarm clocks, and I’ve never seen a sparrow in Starbucks. So why do we humans need to force ourselves awake to start work at 9am? Is it any wonder that we spend all day talking crap and achieving nothing of any real importance?
Would we not get more work done if we could turn up at a more humane and reasonable time, say 3pm? I think the increase in productivity would more than compensate for the reduction in working hours, so much so that we could even leave work earlier, say at 4.30pm. If we combine this with a half-hour siesta, and a couple of fifteen-minute breaks, I’m sure we’d all get much more work done and be a lot happier.
I suggested this to my boss and he said that I should probably start looking for another job. Clearly he thinks that I’m wasted where I am and would be much better off as a highly paid management consultant.
If you can’t sleep, there are various things you can try. Nytol is one popular brand of sleeping pill, although you must heed the warnings not to use heavy machinery while under its influence. Personally there’s nothing I like better to soothe myself to sleep than operating a JCB to dig a few trenches in the driveway.
The old-fashioned way is to count sheep, but these days you’re unlikely to find any sheep around, particularly in urban areas. In any case, it’s likely to be very dark, which can make it difficult to see sheep, even if there does happen to be a flock wandering about town. Rural areas are usually poorly lit, and even so, sheep don’t like to sleep under bright lights. You might think that they could then just count themselves to sleep, but you’d be very wrong and stupid to think something so ridiculous.
You’re better off just counting how many different shades of black you can see, or having nice mug of hot chocolate. Failing that, just get up and go to work - a sure-fire way of beating the morning rush.
It’s always interested me how you need less sleep as you get older. Maybe old people don’t sleep as long because they’re determined to make the most of their autumn days. It’s unfortunate that their idea of a fulfilling life consists of episodes of Countdown and Inspector Morse, although I can see that it’s difficult for a pensioner to afford activities such as skydiving or trekking in the Himalayas.
I asked my gran why she only sleeps for four hours a night. “Pardon?” she said. I repeated the question loudly into her good ear. Was it the sedentary lifestyle, or perhaps the frequent naps throughout the day? “Sleep is for dreams. I have no need for dreams. My head is full of enough nonsensical thoughts as it is,” she said, pouring a jar of pickled onions into the toaster.
They say that if you snooze, you lose. But that’s just convenient rhyming with a careful choice of noun. I think that if you sleep you reap. If you kip you’re hip. Those are slogans to live by.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. What should I have for dinner? Which pub do I want to go to? What should I write a blog post about? Babies and dogs have it much easier. They don’t need to make any decisions at all. They eat what they’re given, and they wear nappies. (Yes, you can buy nappies for dogs. Changing a baby’s nappy is bad enough, but how can you keep your lunch down while staring at the matted, shitty hair around an incontinent dog’s arse?)
Gordon Brown knows a thing or two about difficult decisions. He had to decide this week whether or not to call an early general election. He was buggered either way - he had to choose between being a cynical bastard or a cowardly bastard - but the main fuck-up was the weeks of dithering. It was a big decision, but then politics isn’t the career choice for the terminally indecisive. That’s why I’ve never been tempted - it can take me weeks just to choose a new pair of trainers.
Some decisions aren’t really decisions that you ever have to consciously make. You may think you have chosen the religion you believe in, but the chances are you’ve never actually weighed up all the options. There’s just too much to consider - do you dislike bacon? What about your foreskin? Would a turban suit you? Fancy carrying a sword around all the time? How seriously do you consider the threat of eternal damnation? It’s no wonder nobody can come to a consensus.
If you follow football, how did you choose which football team to support? There are over 7,000 teams in the UK, so on what basis do you choose who you want to win? How much does a season ticket cost? Does the colour of their replica kit suit you?
Of course, these questions are ridiculous, because most people never really choose a religion or football team for themselves. Instead, they’re indoctrinated by their parents, and even if they later come to the realisation that Christianity/Islam/Manchester United is all a load of bollocks, it’s too painful to change - for one thing, they’d have to think of something different to do on Sunday mornings/Saturday afternoons.
Sexuality isn’t really a decision either. Nobody sits down umming and aahing the pros and cons of being gay over a copy of “What Sexuality?” magazine. ”This month, orificies - tried and tested. Which one is right for you? And read our exclusive review of homosexuality - why not give it a go?”
Careers are something that should be decided upon, but are often stumbled into. You just kind of carry on doing what you’ve been good at since you were a child. In my case, a small decision to start playing around with an Acorn Electron when I was 8 years old culminated in me programming computers for a living. In that way, it was much much easier for me to choose a career in IT than it is for me to choose what I want in Pizza Express.
It is often the smallest decisions which are actually the hardest, then. If the big decisions of religion and career and sexuality just happen automatically, the small decisions like what shoes to buy and what to have for lunch are often the toughest. For religion and football I happily settled on the “none of the above” options within seconds, and yet I can spend most of my lunch hour choosing a sandwich in Sainsbury’s.
The 2007 Interactive Fiction competition (IFComp) has begun, and the 29 games are available for download.
There is one Quest entry this year, though I do recommend you check out all of the games as they’ll give you a good idea of the kinds of things people are doing via the medium of text adventure games.
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.