Tonight will be only my second night back at the club this year. Plus I’ve done my Raw heat. It’s not much practice. I have a beating heart and sweaty palms and have had for about six hours now. I feel like I should eat, but I don’t know what will help. And listening to the raw podcasts hasn’t helped. My heart is beating even faster now than it was.
I wasn’t sure about entering Raw. Mostly because it is supported by the youth network and I am hardly what you’d call a youth. But it was a beautifully supportive atmosphere. And even without winning the heat, I had an excellent night. I felt good being on stage, I got a good vibe. I really, really enjoyed it which was something I was forgetting how to do.
So I’ve made a bit of a resolution to do some good strong work on my script and get myself a good routine going and try some other clubs and audiences. Take my comedy serious.
It’s hard though. Comedy writing is so different to the other writing I’ve done. I’m so used to sitting in front of the computer and going over and over my sentences and paragraphs word by word. In silence. To write comedy, you need to leave the computer behind, you need to talk out loud. Even with only myself as an audience I feel self-conscious. I don’t want to speak unless I know it’s going to work, and it’s not going to work unless I say it out loud. Still, I’ve learnt to do it with my other writing – just start banging away – so I’ll guess I’ll learn it with this too.
Then there’s the ever-difficult problem of finding the time. This year, I’ve only had two days when both the boys have been in school/preschool/child care, and because writing comedy is harder to do with other people around – I feel quite self-conscious as I said – I can only really do it when I’ve got the house to myself. I might have to get over that somehow.
And finally, I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about making sure my stuff doesn’t sound like anyone else’s. Reading a how-to book which is liberally dotted with (credited) examples of jokes and gags and concepts, I discovered that one of my best jokes – in fact, one of my lynchpin jokes – has already been written and has been widely-used by an extremely famous comedian for quite some time. Fark.
Now, I did write that joke myself. One day when my partner came home, and he said how was your day out came the joke and that was before I had done any stand-up. He even remembers it. But I don’t reckon that’s gonna cut the mustard as a defence. Nor is pointing out that I’m as eldest-child-play-by-the-rules as they come. So I’ve cut the joke and written something new into that part of my routine. It does the job, but it is nowhere near as good as the original joke (which I guess wasn’t that original after all). I don’t suppose I’m not the only one it has happened to and I won’t be the last. As everyone says there are no new ideas. And my partner says I should be happy because it shows I know how to write good jokes. And I guess better that I found out that way than that someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘erm, you do realise there’s One Golden Rule, don’t you? Don’t nick jokes’.
Meanwhile, Raw has started to swirl around in the back of my mind. But there’s tonight to get through first. Right everyone, out of the house.