The build up to my first ever stand-up gig

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

If you're new to this page, start at the bottom, this is the last entry.

This blog tells the story of my journey towards doing stand-up comedy for the first time. When I wrote it I was writing in the form of a diary, recording both mundane events alongside my attempts to prepare for having a go at something I'd really always wanted to do.

I published it as a bit of fun and as something to serve as a bit of an extra to my main blog. However it's popularity is growing and since I published the last entry the hit rate is starting to rival my current active blog. There has even been talk of turning it into a radio show. I think that would be difficult at the moment but it's something for the future perhaps.

I've also had emails from fellow stand-ups who have all said nice things about it.

So, as I said, start at the bottom and work your way up. It's pretty much a warts and all journey towards my first ever gig.

If you're thinking of doing stand-up yourself my advice is simple: FUC#ING DO IT!

Yours Sincerely


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Monday March 22, 2005 2am

Rightihoo then. I did it. I went on stage and got gonged off at 3mins10secs! It was more fun than you’d expect. I was amazed at how little I could see of the audience. I was amazed at how relaxed I felt and I was amazed at how easy it felt. It was a strange experience and there is a lot for me to assimilate.

But it was fun and I’m more than glad I did it.

If it's something you're considering I'd certainly reccomend it.

I had a couple of drinks before I went on stage. I was reasonably nervous but also very relaxed as I couldn't imagine what it would feel like once I was on. I knew I knew my material and in some ways it was a bit like going for an exam.

When I stood on the stage with the lights glaring at me it felt like I was stood before "God" or something like that. That is until I started talking.

My opening line "grew my hair long to look like John Lennon, ended up looking like Meatloaf" got a laugh. The moment I heard that I relaxed.

It's crazy.

Do it.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday March 21st 1:13pm.

Well not quite.. I’m on the train. Getting butterflies and worrying about the fact I should have set off earlier and so forth. Think I’m going to have a crack at writing some material. I don’t think I can prepare anymore or do anything much else. Might write a bit of my set on my hand for psychological comfort but to be honest I know it off by heart by now. I might also recite it to Wootus in the car. It’ll be good for him.

This really might be my last Virgin comedy entry... unless something terrible happens.

Which I'm sure it won't.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday March 21st 4:11am

It’s the night before I do it. To be honest I’ve been sort of pushing it out of my mind. I don’t think I could have prepared my memory any better, I can remember the whole set without much difficulty. I’m going to drift off to sleep with it playing away again tonight. I’ll practice my delivery during the day after I’ve had a sleep. Woo shit!! My nerves are coming and going. I get a sudden surge of horror followed by another surge of massive confidence. I need to ignore the horror when I go turn it on. I saw a picture of the Frog and Bucket audience size on the website a few hours ago when I was double checking the address. It filled me with fear for a moment and then excitement at what I’m actually going to do.

I like the idea of having my haircut today. I think it’ll focus me and bring out my more exhibitionist side. I’m also planning to have the beard shaved off as well. Just to go the whole hog. It’ll hopefully give me a feeling of transformation. I think I need that now. It’s the right time. Whoo shit. I’m really excited. Whoo shit I’m really excited by the whole thing. A big adventure. Crikey. Hope it all goes well.

Next entry and I’ll have done it!


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday 20th March 3am

Oh dear. It’s the night before the night before and to be fair my moods have been awful. I’m really genuinely worried about how this goes when to be honest I should be just treating it as fun. I’ve been blaming my career and anything else that I can think of for the mood I’m in. In reality I think it’s just nerves about doing this stand-up. I need to learn to control my mind more. I suspect that this subconscious programming route is the way forward.

I recited my material to my Mum today while we took Fred the dog round the park (possibly for the last time as he’s ill at the moment). Tom’s words on the phone summed this up perfectly “what confidence you gained in knowing that you do know your material has been lost twice over by your mum’s reaction”. He’s right. I need to stop reciting it to people. Save it for the gig. Go and fu#king do it. See how it goes then. Silly.

The rest of the call to Tom was full of nice advice like, just enjoy it now. You’ll be fine etc. Nothing particularly insightful. He read me some more of his material. It was good. He’s becoming very productive. I feel I should keep writing. I’m going to get cracking after this diary entry on some stuff actually. Ye gods! I’m shi#ting it one minute and fine the next.

There’s been a strange sense of excitement which has now turned into one of slow creeping fear. That sounds over dramatic so if you want to understand where I’m coming from cut some of the edge off that statement and there we are. Thereabouts. I can’t really express my nerves to you rationally because they are by their very nature irrational. They’re driven by my subconscious and my body. There’s really no rational reason to be nervous. It’ll be fine.

Have just been reading a pi#s funny transcript of a bloke who took mescaline as an experiment on telly. It’s very funny. Never broadcast apparently. No justice. It would have been great.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Saturday March 19th 4:44am

I’m off to sleep now, I’m going to be listening to my stand-up as I drift off.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

March 18th Friday 7pm

I’m on a train. I’ve got the week off and I intend to conquer the Manchester comedy scene during it. Well. I’m going to do some open mic spots in it anyway. Sweating like a pig at the moment. Not sure if it’s because the train’s so hot or if it’s because of the atkins diet and all the gym trips I’ve done recently. No way of knowing. I have lost some weight though over the time I’ve been writing this diary. I’m now down to about 14 ½ stone. Not bad going. I’m after a weight of 13 stone. That’d be my ideal weight. Good lord I stink of sweat at the moment. Nasty.

I’m fairly confident that I know my material at the moment. It’s sort of engraved in my brain. The only thing I lack is genuine confidence in my material. I need to think about growing that over the weekend. I’m not sure how. I should really have got on with this self hypnosis stuff. I feel very focused on it at the moment though. I slept for ages on the couch before and I think that I’ve transformed from radio DJ into comedian wannabe over that period. Actually take wannabe out of that sentence I’m all up for this, and I’m not a wannabe baby!



Tuesday, February 21, 2006

March 16, Wednesday 2005

A depressing end to the day. Right, I’ll start from the beginning. Firstly I woke up and pottered about as usual. Matt came back so I made myself a nice breakfast and ate with him. Then he went back to work and I carried on pottering about. We went to the gym together around 6pm did some exercise and listened back to my stand-up material. I think that went quite well. I feel like I can recite the material to a fairly high degree of accuracy at the moment. Went into work after preparing here and re-viewing Nathan Barley on video with Matt. It’s quite good as a sitcom but mainly because it’s got Chris Morris’ name on it.

Then when I came in to work I discovered we'd recieved a serious complaint. Frankly the most depressing news I've recieved for a while.

So, onto the comedy. I think I can recite it fairly accurately and tomorrow I intend to perform it a few times in the front room. Me and James are going to the gym around 3.30pm tomorrow and I’ll do some more rote learning. Just realised I’ve left my mini disc in the car. Best go and get it out now so I can drift off to sleep with it playing in my ears.


Monday, February 20, 2006

March 15th Tuesday 2005

Didn’t get the stand-up learned via mini disc today. Had loads of bonkers problems involving a lost MD player. Then a lost MD. Arrgh!! However, not as bad as it could have been. I had lost my MD player but it had been handed in at the gym. Great! Once all that was sorted did a couple of hours in the gym with Piekos. Going to do the same tomorrow just this time equipped with MD and MD player! Eggcellent. Practiced some more at work. Worth doing I think.

Talked to Tom as well today he gave me bits of advice about eye contact with audience. Really nervous!!!


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday March 14th 2005 4:23pm

Look at that! A whole week with no updates. It’s a combination of nerves and doing fu*k all that’s related to comedy. Had a couple of conversations with Tom but have spent most of last week largely pretending that it’s not going to happen.

Drank loads this weekend.

I’m going to try and make this week the exact opposite. Lots of practising during the day. Lots of working at it at night. I’ve been putting the newer stand-up material onto mini disc tonight. Getting it ready. Keep going from shitting my pants to excited. Going to the gym today later with James Piekos going to bust some serious moves with this stand-up.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sunday March 6th 3:06pm

Sat in Jodie’s front room watching some daft soap opera. Went out on the drinkies last night. Got very drunk. Jodie woke me up with a surprise. Was in a bad mood ‘til she did that. Typical first thing in the morning hangover blues.. didn’t know they could be so effectively cured. Gunna ring mum in a bit, it’s Mother’s day today. Gunna have a pop at writing some stuff in a moment.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Saturday March 5, 2005 --- 2:55AM

Am at Jodie’s. Woke up about 6 today. Getting a bit tired of waking up really late in the day. Need to get back into a more conventional sleep pattern. That said, there’s fu#k all to do during the day. Debating the merits and drawbacks of doing a music show on Hallam FM. Unsure if it’d be worthwhile. Going to do a demo pretty soon of it and see what we think. I feel a bit bad but really we might have no choice. Still doesn’t mean I’m going to do it. I might do a demo and they might hate it. We’ll see.

In terms of comedy I’m quite excited now about my set. It’s picking up and the fact Tom liked the Gandhi stuff means I’ve got more confidence in my writing prowess improving as I go along. His clearly has from what I’ve heard of his stuff. I think mine will also. So much so that I’m off to write some more stuff. It occurred to me as I loaded up this diary that I could of course turn this into stand-up material. How successful that’d be I don’t know. But it might be fun.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Gandhi Bit...

2006 NB

This is the bit which caused so much controversey in my very small world around the time this diary was being written, it's very silly:

Gandhi once said “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”.

Actually it’d leave one bloke, with one eye, left over

And everyone concerned would be annoyed.

So perhaps Gandhi should have said:

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world, annoyed

and most people entirely blind..

Apart from one bloke who’d have one eye”.

Add to that another quote:

“In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.”

So perhaps Gandi should have said:

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world, annoyed

and most people entirely blind

Apart from one bloke whose got one eye, and he’s the king.”

If I was him I imagine I wouldn’t bother wearing a crown.

You’d only be wearing it for your own benefit.

You’d feel a bit silly.

Another famous quote.

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”

So perhaps Gandhi should have said:

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world annoyed

and most people entirely blind,

Apart from one bloke whose got one eye,

And he’s their corrupt king

Who probably doesn’t bother wearing a crown..

No point really.. messes up his hair”

I told all this to a mate of mine and he said..

Here’s another saying for you Nick: “No one likes a smart arse”

That’s true I took it on the chin.

So perhaps Gandhi should have said..

Ah- Nothing at all.

Saves a lot of confusion.

Friday March 4th 3:39am

The lesson I have learned, I’ve just pieced it together today, is that your state of mind is crucial to this comedy lark. I’ve clearly over the last few days lost faith in my material and my ability a bit. The material itself hasn’t changed at all over this period but my attitude has. I allowed myself to be a bit disheartened by Ben’s reaction to it and then allowed myself a bit more negativity throughout the week. I’d already decided it was good enough to get laughs and be performed but my mindset changed and we’re in trouble.

Therefore I need to work as hard as I can to keep a positive mindset throughout this whole experience. Makes sense. If I wanna make people laugh it’ll work better if I’m in a good mood when I get on stage and in the run up to it. This hobby, at its best, is a pleasant escape from the tedium of the real world. I’m making it into a hassle. I’m getting too fixated on it and so turning it into a chore. It doesn’t have to be. Hence my plan is to try and really learn and put into practice this lesson I’ve learned about the importance of mindset.

I’m now off to drink a few beers, have a smoke and re-write my stand-up!


Monday, February 13, 2006

2000 and 5ive - Thursday March 3rd 6:14pm

Oh double dear. Just been talking to Tom Binns. I read him some of my Gandhi stuff and he thinks it’s better than the fart stuff so he thinks I should put it in. Fu#k. That’s a minor worry. Still it gives me a bit of flexibility with the set. It’d be a better opener. Dunno, going to have a crack at it soon.

There’s talk of me doing a music show again on Hallam FM. The figures for the phone in are really high but there been a lot of trouble behind the scenes.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

2005 Thursday March 3rd 4:22AM

Oh dear. My mind really hasn't been on comedy recently. Off to write some new stuff for fun.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tuesday March 1, 2005 6:40pm

Was chatting to Tom this morning about some of the new stuff he’s done. I read him my farts stuff again he says it just needs to be done infront of an audience now. He also says he’s been booed by an audience! It’s quite amazing really, it was over some of his gay material.. bonkers. It's not offensive stuff - just sounds like it was a rowdy audience.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Monday, February 28, 2005 and it’s 3.31 am

I’m in a sort of bad mood. This is always the case on Sunday.

I’m drinking some of this low carb beer that was left in the fridge from the weekend. I’ve got three bottles. I might get tiddly if I drink them all. Great! Not going to make a habit of drinking beer on my own though. Even worse for you than fags!

Tomorrow I intend to ring Tom and read out my stand-up to him again. Dunno if that’s a good idea or not. Actually maybe not. We’ll see if he rings me. I’d like to know how his last gig went. My confidence in the stand-up is quite low at the moment. I wish I’d done that “self-talk” tape but I haven’t. One thing is I don’t want anyone else to hear it. Perhaps I should do it on Mini Disc only. I was originally thinking of doing it on CD but it’d be really embarrassing for anyone else to hear. Ooh, I’ve got a number to call for a gig in London. F#ck! Forgot to get it off my computer at work.

Okay anyway, I’m off to chill infront of the telly and watch this “Director’s Commentary” disc I borrowed off Ben. It’s got Rob Brydon talking over old TV programmes. Might be good.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sunday, February 27, 5:43

Just been sat writing sh#t. I’m going to bed now. In a slightly better mood than I was when I wrote the above entry. Lots of stuff to do tonight. Self talk stuff is one. Re-record my stand-up is another. It’d be nice to go to the gym as well today. Sleep first though.


Monday, February 06, 2006

February 27th, Sunday, 3:46am

Okay, I’m starting to loose faith a bit in my material. I shouldn’t be but I am. Recited it to Jodie and it got a very bad response. I need to stop telling it to people. It’s not a good idea. I need to memorise it properly as well. I need to read it into a MD again and then start pumping it into my head. I think it’s also time to read it to Tom again and see what he thinks. I’m worried about doing that because I can't make major changes to it now. I want to perform the stuff I’ve got.

I’m also starting to worry about this “one Irish gag” for Beat The Frog. As I don’t really know what a “gag” is I can’t think of anything to do there. If asked I’m going to say my Grandma was Irish.

Tsk. Still, I’m slowly losing weight and the huge bags which lived under my eyes during my smoking period are going. They’ve almost faded completely. Bonkers. It’s taken me longer to recover this time but I’m never going to smoke fags EVER again. Filthy evil fuc#ing things…

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Saturday: February 26, 10:05AM

Yesterday I went to the gym with James, that was fun. Afterwards I hooked up with Ben and made the mistake of telling him some of my set.

Didn’t get a great response.

It’s not going to knock my confidence.

I’m cool. It’s good to remind myself that the set is far from invincible. After that Jodie came round and we got some “Low Carb” beer for me. I’m not sure I approve of how much I drink at the moment. I’m also not sure I enjoy this post-drink depression you sink into for the early hours of the morning.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Friday: February 25th 5:50

Did I do that self talk tape? Did I fu#k. I just farted about after the show. Flicked through a few websites and talked to James a bit. Rubbish!

However it’s been a good day as regards the stand-up. Firstly I recited the whole thing to Matt Mackay without much of a problem. I also performed the first bit of it on air and got laughs from the visible audience of the security guard and Steve the producer and the caller who was on at the time. It felt good performing it to a new audience who haven’t heard it. I think I’ll get laughs on stage. I really do. I started off being positive because I knew I’d need to be if I was going to pull this off. Now I just feel genuinely positive about it.

Went to the Lescar and watched Toby Foster and some other bloke who plays a part in Phoenix nights. He plays the part of Kenny Senior. He was very funny. Toby was on fine form as well. Also, they had a camera crew in from Channel 4.

I always feel good after no-topic night. It was a great show as always and we were jammed for calls. That show sometimes has a life of its own. Tonight was one of those nights.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2005 Thursday: 24th February 6:20pm

Going to go to the comedy club again this week. See whats happening as regards comedy. As my confidence builds I’ve started thinking maybe I could try and get on the bill on the Thursday of the week we’re doing open mic. It’d be a better conclusion to things than this thing in Preston. As it looks at the moment it could well be a decreasing audience size through the week.

Need to do this self-talk business pretty soon. Might get cracking on it tonight. Here’s a few of the messages I’m going to hammer into my sub-conscious: “I’m a confident person” , “I enjoy talking in front of large groups of people”, “I have a great memory”, “I’m very organised these days”, “I will perform my comedy flawlessly leaving the correct spaces for laughs” “I’m loosing weight and will soon be 13.5 stone”. They’re the sort of things I want to get lodged in there. Need to record it onto a mini-disc, or even better get it onto a CD and loop the fu-ker so it’s 80 minutes of it. If it works happy days. If not, no harm done.

Jolly good.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wednesday February 24th 3:33am

Comedy preparation today has been a little overlooked. I got up late and then went with Matt to get his hair cut. I think I’m going to have mine done soon only I’d like to get these PR shots done first then get it all taken off. It’s really long and my beard looks scruffy as well. I want to change my look. Perhaps I’ll do it tomorrow. F##k the PR shots, I’ve gone off the idea. Dunno. Not sure at all.

As regards memorising the set I’ve cut the set list down to seven points… buddism, philosophy, women, restaurant, funeral, battersley, kids. Just took time out to see if I could perform the set to my bedroom ceiling using only my set list. I can. Almost… few minor errors but I think with a couple more serious practice sessions I’ll be ready to start pre-performing it with a pretend mic and stuff. I want to seem as if I’ve been doing it for years when I finally hit the stage.

Looking back over yesterday’s entry and I forgot to mention that last night I found a website address where there’s a recording of Rob Deb doing stand-up comedy. Whose Rob Deb? He was a bloke we knew years ago who we'd rib because he wanted to do stand-up comedy. Well he’s there on this video clip doing it and he fucking rocks! He’s getting the laughs and his delivery is nice. I want to get in touch with him but there’s no contact details. Ruined. Maybe we should try and get him up to Sheffield to do the Lescar. The clip was of him towards the end of last year. There’s a fair few mentions of his name on the net, he’s obviously still at it.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Tuesday: February 23 and it’s 3:45 in the AM

Tom rang me back later yesterday and told me some more of his stuff. I enjoy hearing it and I particularly enjoy chucking ideas at him. It’s interesting to see what he thinks is good and what he thinks will work. Gave him quite a good punchline for his act that I imagine he won’t use as it’s not a very “Tom” line:

Chamberlain promised the Britsh he’d protect them
From Hitler by giving them Czechoslovakia
Which wasn’t actually theirs to give

It’s a bit like promising Randy the un-reformed rapist,
Someone else’s bottom in the showers…
And then thinking the problem is solved.

(My bit in italics – Tom’s bit probably slightly inaccurate)

It suggests in the book that you find someone to write with and bounce ideas off. Tom’s been an absolute fuc#ing bonus in that respect. Would probably be a few weeks behind myself if not for having him to bounce ideas off.

Those comedy websites are a godsend… they’re also turning into a bit of an obsession. I’ve been trawling through them again tonight. Sillyness. They remind me of the glimpse into the radio world that Media UK (in its prime) and Radiogoss (now defunct) gave me when I was just starting out. There’s an interesting vibe on them that I’m not sure what to make of.

Got a message back from the bloke who does Beat The Frog. I’m on the bill! Brilliant. He wants one Irish joke in there? I’ll have to ask for him to clarify that. I’ll maybe make the Jamie Battersley story Irish by changing Jamie’s nationality? Not sure. I’ve really got no idea what to expect with these “gigs” (hate that word). As far as I can make out it’ll be a fairly big night at Beat The Frog, Quite big at The Spacebar then a bit smaller at The Comedy Balloon then down to hardly any for the arts thing in Preston.

Went to the gym with Matt today. Did about an hour and a half with just me and the minidisc that I recorded the day before. On the treadmill with all my daft fart material bouncing round my brain. Starting to really get the hang of it now. Getting to really know my material. Making slight last minute changes to it but ultimately ready to perform it as soon as. There’s still the possibility of the “Gong Show” in Sutton Coldfield. That’d be on the 11th of March I think. I’ve asked to be part of it, I think it’d work well as a little taster of the big week.

I’m going to buy a camcorder from a cheap second hand store to document the whole thing with. I think I also need some audio recording equipment if possible. We’ll see. I saw a cheap camcorder in Manchester for about £50. We’ll see what’s going on this weekend.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Monday: 2:00pm February 22nd

I’ve not had a call from the bloke who does Beat The Frog. I think I’m going to get memorising this stand-up stuff today. Might flick through some new material I’m writing. Tom read me some of his ripper stuff. I think it’s his strongest work yet. There’s some great lines there. Bang on the zeitgeist as well. Tried not to over-praise it though. I can get too enthusiastic sometimes.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

7:17am February 22nd

Oh dear me. It’s clearly the wrong side of the day. I’ve got to get more in control of my sleep patterns here. Obviously I’m in a rather obsessive state about this comedy mission I’ve set myself. It’s turned out to be a lot of fun to work towards so far. I’m now at the stage where I have material that I just need to learn now. This leaves me almost exactly a month. Should be easy enough to learn it. Might get back to reading that book a bit. See what it says about performance.

I’ve registered on the forums for It’s been a lot more rapid than the Manchester comedy one. Got lots of useful feedback from people. There’s some really helpful chaps out there. This scene really reminds me of radio at the moment. People clearly do it for the love of it. I like that. They also clearly want more people involved in it. That’s also good. I imagine that like radio there’s only a certain number of people who are really genuinely good at it. Might be wrong. I like the way it feels like I’m doing something new though.

I’m also enjoying writing this diary. I love the fact I’m writing it without any sort of purpose in mind. It really allows you to enjoy the little things in life if you keep a diary. You assess your day more. I can also watch my progress as I travel towards the stand-up.

Right, in comedy news here’s what’s happened. I tried loads of practising today. Loads of reading the stuff out and recording it as I went along and then moving the sheets of paper I’m reading from further out of sight. Until I couldn’t see them. Unfortunately once I couldn’t see them I also couldn’t remember them. Ruined.

I’ve hassled Lee the promoter who does Beat The Frog in the week I’m after. I’ve told him my family is connected to Ireland as it’s Irish theme night or something. Hope it works. I sent him a PM on the Manchester Comedy website. It’s my final crack at that spot!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Monday February 21st 6.10am

Odd show last night. Really low on calls.

I've decided I'm going to try this subconscious programming thing. What do I want to programme myself to think? I’d like to be less of a coward. I’m going to use it in relation to my comedy. I’ll use it for a few other things. Wonder if it’ll work? I’ll have to see what I want to make it do first. Anyway, comedy news…

I’ve recorded my set onto mini-disc using the recorders in the news room bit. I’ve got it here on my bed*. It’s just under 4 minutes. Around 3.40secs. Shorter than I thought. That’s after a few readings and a few more self imposed re-writes. During the re-writing I’ve added a few little extra jokes. Looking back over it the piece used to be a lot flabbier and blunter. It’s now becoming meaner and leaner and more clearly intended to make you laugh. Now remember this piece has been in the works since at least the 31st of January. Almost a month to write four minutes of material. That’s around a week per minute. Bonkers. That said it’s getting better all the time.

So the idea of recording it onto mini-disc is twofold. Firstly it was to get me used to holding a mic. I don’t anticipate this as a big problem to be honest. It’s not something I’ve ever been uncomfortable with in the past. The second purpose is so I can play it, over and over again into my head. This will help me to memorise it. Now, remember, I want to know it so well I can sort of improvise around it if I want. I need to hit the point where I’m not reading it from my memory but just telling it to a mate. I think this is the way to do that. By tomorrow night I’ll know if it was a good idea.

Matt’s been really useful and patient today. I read him the set over the phone. Went through where I think there will be reaction points and he suggested I get him or Wootus to read it out to me. Great idea, I got James Piekos to do it when he came into work at half two in the morning. It was good because it showed me how to better deliver one of my own lines! I’ve incorporated that into my delivery. I think that’s the next bit I’m facing. How do I deliver these ideas? That’s where learning it off by heart might help me.

Finally it looks like I might be off to Preston to do Thursday of the week. There’s an open mic, poetry type, guitar type thing that the organiser says sometimes does comedy. It’s a Thursday booking, can’t afford to be picky. Sounds good to me! Also I’m now on the Comedy Balloon website. Nick Sheffield Wednesday – 8.30pm. Bonkers.


*Additional note written on Weds 25th 2006:

This is the exact script I had laid out infront of me. On the actual night, as you'll see, it got changed around a bit. But for the moment this gives you an idea of where I was at.

I want to tell you about my path to enlightenment..

I used to be a buddist..

Until once I was at meditation class with about 60 others.

Sat in the row infront, his legs in the lotus position..

is a wise, old man... Remember him..

he’s about to touch me, in a way that’ll change me forever..

We’re all of us being told to tune into silence..

We’re meditating and expelling bad vibes..

room’s so quiet you can hear, everything..

Then this wise old man does something very profound..

He does a fart..

A big.. loud.. dirty fart..

He’s expelling his bad vibes..

When you meditate you have something called a mantra.

You repeat it over and over.

I ended up meditating on the sound of his fart.

That experience changed me forever.

Anyway.. the guide, she just carries on.

We’re doing power breathing exercises,

& Mr Miyagi here’s a proper buddist.. he’s a vegetarian..

Now that’s just nasty.

I can still see..

All these earnest buddists power breathing it in..

Ignoring it..

I couldn’t not laugh..

That was it for me.. I was no longer a buddist.

The day you start ignoring farts like that.

That’s the day you kill your inner child..

I didn’t become a buddist in order to start killing kids..

So I decided to start a new philosophy: the philosophy of farts.

Someone farts, enjoy it.

Not Carpe de em, but Carpe de fart.

It’s a philosophy that puts you in touch with a message that comes

Straight from arse holes..

Now farts aren’t as funny to women, I’m not sure why

It could be because men are stupid..

Or!.. it’s might be women don’t have a sense of humour..
(call the mo)

Here’s an example

in a posh resteraunt with my family, let rip the loudest fart ever.

Mum’s embarrassed…

Even more so when the piano player next to us

Hears it.. and stops playing.. right in the middle of his tune.

This means the whole restraunt, turns round to see what’s wrong.

There’s a genuine look of pride on my dad’s face.

Little cheeky wink – “nice one son”.

Y’know corpses fart after they’ve died..

imagine that at an open casket funeral..

You go in to see your dead relative and they fart at you..

How’d you react to that?

Three options: Ignore it?.. Laugh it off?.. Light it?

My next door neighbour when I was a kid Jamie Battersley,

we used to smell, each other’s farts.

Then we’d guess what the other’d had for tea..

He gets a bit embarrased about that now……

Mainly ‘cause I’m so good at it..

Jamie Battersley had, Beef burgers for dinner today.

Farts are funnier to me coz I’m not a parent.

If your kid farts..

it’s possible they’ve shat their pants.

Back in primary school, Danny Parker, in Mrs Phone’s class.

Confidently sings: “1,2,3,4 listen to my arse roar.”

Everyone turns round to see what’s happening

There’s Danny straining away but there’s no fart...

Literally seconds later without missing a beat, sticks his hand up.

“Miss – can I go to the toilet?”

I think Danny learned a very valuable lesson that day.

If you're going to announce a fart: be sure it's just a fart.

Don’t shit your pants infront of the whole class..

Because you’ll never hear the end of it

All throughout school people will go on about it.

20 years later I’ll still be telling complete strangers the story.

Tell you what, big round of applause for Danny Parker's failed fart!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

20th February 2:05am

Got a call from Tom. He seemed in good spirits. He’s not too keen on Jodie’s suggestion: “you wouldn’t do that if you were telling a mate about it”. After I read it to him he told me to re-write it as if I was telling it to Phoneboy. Ironically I have told these stories to Phoneboy before, they all went down well. “Don’t worry too much about it being funny, just try and make it more conversational” … I didn’t ask if that was because it already was funny. I’m trying to master this think positive lark. Next thing I plan to do is get cracking on recording some stuff onto MD so I can memorise it. I’m going to try this auto-suggestion thing. It sounds good, only I’m a bit late on the timing, he reckons it takes around two months or so.

Watched a Woody Allen film with Jodie and drank a bottle and a half of wine. Can’t sleep. Don’t feel drunk either. I think I might go without drink soon for a month or so. It’s not much fun really.

Going to do some more work on the set. Tom was quite positive on the phone.

Perhaps I am a bit drun.


Monday, January 23, 2006

19th February 4:10pm

Jodie’s made a good suggestion. I should use a sound effect fart in my act, which is entirely about farts. I’m going to buy one of those fart boxes from a joke shop. We’re rocking baby! Still nervous reading this out to people. Don’t know how I’ll fare for real. Think positive! It’ll be fine!


Friday, January 20, 2006

2005 February 19th 1:46pm

I’m in Manchester at the moment. I’ve re-written the set a little bit. It’s approximately 4 minutes long. I did it on the train. This lap top is ace. I’ll have to make back-ups of all the important files and save them onto a floppy. We’re off into town today, I’ll buy some then. Tom’s help in re-writing the stuff has been an absolute bonus. The whole bit is looking much better. I think I can –almost- guarantee at least one or two laughs. If I perform it correctly I'll probably have fun doing it.

Might read my set to Jodie a bit later.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

February 1:25pm on Friday 18th in the year 2000 and 5

I’ve got another booking! Just had a call from Chris Judge. He books for The Spacebar open mic night. He seems like one of the goodies in this story. He was really helpful and despite the fact that March the 22nd is full he said he’d fit me on the bill. Brilliant. As long as I had something rehearsed and wasn’t just going to turn up and try and make it up as I went along. There’s a fine line between making it clear you’ve never done it before on the one hand and then on the other, coming over as too confident. I’d rather walk on the “never done it before” line. But I’ve got to be positive at the same time.

Not as positive as Wootus though. That bloke we saw last night got back to him. There’s a spot on the Friday, it’s part of a theatre tour. I don’t rely too much on swearwords do I? F#cking hell. When we were first told about him he ran an open mic night. It’s clear that’s not the case. He must have packed that in. Ruined. However it’s a trap that frequently seems to pop up. We know too many people who are in a position to put us on a real stage infront of real people.

Anyway back to how great that Chris Judge is. Here’s his advice on finding and getting gigs: post again on Manchester Comedy with something like, “Looking for open mic nights – open spots March 20-26th”. Don’t tell people you’ve never done it before. Say you’ve done a few. Go on and post the same string in the industry notice board section. Make sure you’ve got something practiced! Interesting considering Toby’s advice last night. He also implied I should lie to the bloke about Beat The Frog and their need for an Irish joke.

Chris rang when I was on the phone to Tom. Tom’s been going over my set. He thinks I should be ruthless and cut it down. This is the set that I’d already changed this morning prior to him re-hearing it. All his advice makes sense to me though and we both agreed the bit is starting to shape up quite nicely. I told him Toby’s advice and his response was similar to what I’ve written in my last entry. He also added “If you’ve got your material written out you can record your performance and look back to the script to see which bits need taking out. It ups your confidence for future shows.”

So, I'm going to press on and learn my material back to front then when I’m onstage put in little asides if I want. This of course increases the need to cut it down in it’s current form. It currently weighs in at around 4 minutes. I’d rather do 3 minutes of funny material than four minutes of slightly rubbish material. I don’t intend to busk it.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

18th of February 4am Friday

A good day today. Both the radio show and the comedy world were nice to me. I missed that snoop with Owen I was supposed to have. Slept in by accident. However the radio show went really well. It’s “No Topic Night” on Thursday so people can call in about whatever they want and I talk to them about it. It’s a chance for me to piss about and of course do no preparation whatsoever. This means I can get down to the comedy club beforehand.

I finally managed to corner Toby Foster and have a really good in-depth conversation with him about comedy. After me badgering him about it we started to get into a discussion about funny words and sounds. He eventually (after much perstering from me) went into his theory about how you sort of sing your comedy to people. Like you’d perform poetry. “Da – du – da – du – da – du – da.. Ta – de – de – Da…” is funnier than “Da – Da – Da – Da – Da…”. It makes more sense when he explains it. I get where he’s coming from and once he’d explained it I can see how he reflects that theory in his act. I could almost hear him doing it when he was on stage. Really changing the pitch of his voice.

I think Toby is wary of sounding too pretentious about his act and himself. There’s no need, he’s not a pretentious person. I think he knows he’s capable of more and that’s why he rips into himself so much and doesn’t allow himself too much glory. He’d keep slagging his material off as he explained these things. I suppose that’s what’s likeable about him. His offstage lack of confidence is a counterbalance to his onstage persona.

As an addition to this, Toby told me not too look nervous if possible. Looking nervous is apparently not a good idea! I think I can manage that, I’m usually quite a confident looking person when I turn it on. He also suggested I don’t learn my material off by heart. He suggests I know my topics but don’t worry too much about how I phrase it. Now this is a big piece of advice and it’s more potentially significant to the way I’m preparing. My original plan was too learn the whole thing off by heart. So I could recite it like I can a Chris Morris sketch or a Blackadder episode (series 2 of course). However here’s what he said word for word:

“What’s funny to you in your bedroom might not work at that exact moment in front of the crowd. Read the crowd and respond to them. Phrase it how you think it’ll work there and then. It’s a conversation between you and the crowd. You don’t script conversations in real life”

F$ck! That’s obviously good advice.

I can’t ignore it because it makes sense. However I can’t totally change my strategy on the basis of his advice. He’s an experienced comic, I’m not. Now, here’s what makes the advice even more powerful. This time last week there was an open mic on whom I didn’t see but Jodie and Matt did. Here’s their review: “He just sounded like he was reading from a script there was no interaction with the crowd.”. This is a trap I remember thinking that I could easily fall into. Most of the things I do are prepared to a level I'd be ashamed to admit.

So, my plan now is to learn the script off by heart. It’s constantly changing at the moment but I should have a version I’m happy with by the end of tonight. Once it’s done and firmly engrained in my mind I’ll promise myself not to get too hung up about the exact wording of it on the night. I’ll busk it a bit. Only a bit. Oh fu@k I’m changing my mind as I write this..

Now here’s the stage time problem. Met a comedian last night who me and Wootus sort of harassed into giving us some stage time at his next gig or club or something. Here’s the conversation:

Wootus: “Hiya mate, listen Nick here’s after doing some open mic spots”

Comedian bloke with a bald head “Okay, is he funny, (to me) are you funny?”

Me: “Um..”

Wootus: “He’s fu-king hilarious”

Comedian “Right, lets see there’s some gigs coming up get my number off Toby give me a ring and we’ll get you booked in”

Me: “Okay. Um..”

This guy was very funny on stage. Despite the fact he did comedy songs. We’d originally heard that he did an open mic night. Doesn’t look like that’s the case. However I’ll ring him and we’ll see. I might have to get over this fear I’ve got of doing some stuff infront of a paying crowd. Toby’s all up for getting me on at The Lescar. Not sure about that. Open mic acts can die an awful grizzly death there. Really not sure about it. Obviously the same applies at other comedy clubs in the UK. I don’t quite think my first EVER gig should be infront of a paying crowd.

Okay, in other news Tom Binns has replied to my email. He’s hugely tweaked the set. It’s a bit embarrassing really. He’s a lot funnier than I am and I owe him a lot for the help he’s given me. Whenever he reads me his stuff I giggle like a girl and tell him it’s really good. Whenever I show him my stuff he improves it and is really helpful. Oh dear, I need to get onstage. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I wish I’d got into this earlier. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m off to apply his re-writes to my set and then I’m going to have a nice long sleep.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thursday 17th February 2:50am 2005

Been an odd day today. I’ve had a great day in terms of my radio stuff but my stand-up has taken a bit of a knock back. Firstly I’ll deal with the good stuff. The show went well today and to be honest I’m still on a bit of an after-show high. I really feel that this stand-up lark has freed my mind up creatively. I’m using sound effects a bit of surreal stuff and I’m genuinely enjoying the job again.

One of the reasons I’m doing this stand-up stuff is I need something else to do with my time. The radio show alone isn’t enough. It’s fun but it’s no substitute for a real life. If I focus too hard on the radio show I end up crushing it like a flower. I need to water it and respect it but not weigh it down. That’s why I’m doing this stand-up, it’s distracting me from the show a bit but it’s still something worth doing.

Now then, setbacks… Well it’s almost f#cking impossible to get stage time! I thought a month’s notice would be good enough. Not so. I can’t get over what a tw#t it’s turning out to be to find a few open mic nights to do some stuff. So it looks like Wutang’s going to try and pull some strings and get a few favours in. That’s a problem because if I’m on any professional bills the stakes are higher. Furthermore I didn’t practice today. I need my set printed on paper to read it out loud. Well I don’t have a printer at home so I made excuses to myself and took the disc to work to print it out there. Did I bother? No I forgot and I left the disc at work as well. Cu#t.

However I did email a few clubs in London posted some more on the Manchester Comedy website and sent the most recent copy of my final script to Tom. He might look through it for me. Going to have some burgers now and then go to bed.


Monday, January 16, 2006

2005 Weds Feb 16th 4.20am

So here’s my little diary about doing stand-up comedy for the first time. I’ve just read someone else’s diary which she wrote online in the lead-up to her debut. It was a great read so I thought I’d do one. It’s not online as it happens because I’m in a slightly different situation.

I do a late night radio show on Hallam FM. It gets 64,000 listeners. It’s quite a good show, the last thing I want is any of the audience turning up to watch my kack handed attempts at live comedy. Their expectations would be all out of proportion. No, this is something I’m doing as a hobby in order to take my mind off that radio show.

It started towards the end of January when I was starting to feel a bit creatively flat. Various pressures seemed allied against what I did for a living and my producer Ben had left. I rang a mate of mine, Tom Binns, and asked for his advice. It was simple: “You’re letting this get on top of you because it’s the only creative outlet you have. Write some stand-up material and get some stage time, you’ll never look back”. This advice was uncanny. One of my new year’s resolutions was to do some stand-up this year for a bit of fun. I hadn’t told Tom this but there he was recommending I did it. It’s fate..

So I got to work straight away and with his advice on how to write stuff and wrote two pieces, “Dentists” and “Farts”. It is the second of these I intend to perform. I’ve taken a week off in March, 20th – 26th and I’m trying to book places as we speak, so to speak. My aim is to perform every night of that week! I’ve got one booking so far, open mic at “The Comedy Balloon” in Manchester. It sounds like there’s a very small turn out at that venue. That’s Wednesday of the week covered. Now I need to try and get the others sorted.

My flatmate Anthony is going to help me get to the gigs and be there for moral support. He’s heard my material and been very nice about it. My other flatmate Matt finds the whole thing very funny for all the wrong reasons. He’s being supportive in his own unique way. It’s worth explaining that Anthony is good mates with a stand-up called Toby Foster. He’s The Don of Sheffield Comedy as far as I’m concerned. I’ve NEVER seen Toby “bomb” on stage, ever. He always gets big consistent laughs and his material is a lot more intelligent than it at first appears.

It’s possible that we might try and conclude the “tour” with a gig at his comedy club The Lescar which allows people to do open spots. The only problem with this is that it’s in Sheffield and I worry that people might suss that I’m the bloke who does that “controversial” talkshow on Hallam FM. Unlikely but possible. As a precaution against this I’m using the stage name Nick Sheffield.

So here’s my plan for tomorrow. I intend to practice my “Farts” script over and over and over. I’m going to make sure it’s written out as I want it. I’ll also ring all the clubs I’ve got on my list where they offer open spots in that week and get on them if possible.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. I’m doing a “Gong Show” in Sutton Coldfield on the 11th of March or 18th of March. One of the two anyway. I’ve asked for a slot. Will wait for them to say yay or f--- off!