I gave stand-up comedy a go. Stand-up, sat down
April 7, 2019
I’ve always enjoyed watching stand-up comedy, and I love making people laugh (who doesn’t?), but I don’t think I’d ever really considered actually trying it for myself.
Until last year, when I was lying in bed, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, as I listened to JJ snoring away next to me. I saw an advert: “Ultra Comedy – get 10 weeks training on stand-up comedy, then perform at the Glee Club, all whilst raising money for Cancer Research UK!”. I don’t even think I stopped for a second to think about it. 30 seconds later, I was all signed up, and the reality that I’d actually be doing it didn’t even really enter my head.
Fast forward to a month later, I was in a local pub, at the registration night. They explained that you each had to raise at least £50 for Cancer Research UK, and sell at least 15 tickets to friends & family. This was my motivation to not back out. Once people had parted with money, that was it. I had to do it. Not that I needed motivation as such, but I’ll (ashamedly) admit that I’m the kind of person who in the past has given up on things a lot. So many unfinished ventures because I’ve given up when things have become too much of a challenge. But I’d only be letting myself down in those instances. If people were donating to charity for me to do this, there was no way I was giving up on it. Plus, this was a fun thing to do. I kept thinking of how proud of myself I’d be once I actually did it. The idea of making loads of people laugh helped too.
So every Tuesday for the next 10 weeks, I’d head to the pub after work, ready for my 2 hours of training. I think it’s a weird concept, being trained on how to be funny. I don’t think you can, in all honesty. You can be trained on how to structure a joke, how to become more confident in front of an audience, how to have decent stage presence, how to make the funniness you already have funnier. But I think actually being funny in itself is something that can’t really be taught. Luckily for me, I’m bloody hilarious, so that wasn’t an issue for me. I joke…
Throughout my time preparing for the show, I’d be constantly making notes in my phone when I observed something I thought could be made into a joke. I didn’t start with any idea for a ‘theme’ for what my jokes were gonna be about, but as I wrote more & more, I did end up noticing a theme. Firstly, that my sense of humour isn’t for the easily offended, and secondly, that I can find lots of comedy in the experiences I’ve had as a disabled gal. So that’s what the majority of my 5 minute set was. I know what some of you may be thinking – 5 minutes? That’s not a lot, is it? Yes actually, it is a lot when you’ve got to spend those 5 minutes making about 400 strangers laugh!
A week or two before the final show was due to take place, I tried it out in front of my fellow trainee comedians – and I got laughs! I was so chuffed. Real people had actually heard the jokes that I’d written, and they found them funny. It gave me a confidence boost, and I suddenly felt excited rather than nervous.
The day came and the nerves kicked in again. The excitement too, but naturally, I was very nervous. I saw how many seats were out in front of the stage, and the reality of how many people would actually be sat there. Bloody hell, it’s bad enough cracking a joke in the office and not having the 3 people who heard laugh, never mind hundreds! But I was here now, and it my time to shine. Or die on stage. Either way, it was time.
As it got to me being next, I was pacing up & down backstage, absolutely shitting myself. Well, I would have been, but I’d actually taken some Imodium as a precautionary measure earlier that day even though I didn’t need to, after thinking to myself, “what’s the worst that could happen?”. I was taking no chances.
Finally, I heard the applause as the compere announced “now please welcome our next comedian, Poppy!”. I walked on, I picked up the microphone, and I started. I couldn’t believe it. I was remembering every word! And there it was, the first laugh. People are laughing, oh my god! Don’t let it throw you off! The 5 minutes came & went, and I survived! As soon as I’d finished and got backstage, I felt a rush. I wanted to do it again!
I haven’t done it again, but I’d like to go to at some point. Even if it’s just performing that same 5 minute set again.
If you’d like to see my set, have a watch, and let me know what you think!