Having been made redundant from a ‘normal’ job, I decided it was time to do something really enjoyable. I’d been a fan of live comedy for some years, watching the likes of Eddie Izzard, Sean Hughes, and Phill Jupitus come up through the small clubs such as The Red Rose, and The T&C2 in North London. I decided I’d have a go – I was a funny guy, how hard could it be?
At a loose end in Montreal (aren’t we all at some time in our lives?) I dropped into The Comedy Works, and asked if I could get a try-out spot that evening. The guy who ran the club asked me if I was a comedian back home and the word just slipped out of my mouth – ‘Yes.’ Considering it was my first time on stage, it didn’t go too badly: jokes were told, laughing occurred.
Ten years later and I had played just about every Comedy Club in this country, had toured Ireland, performed at a comedy festival in Groningen and Amsterdam, and been flown to Hong Kong to entertain ex-pats.
Along the way I’ve met some of the most interesting and funny people you’d ever want to spend an M1 car journey with.
I supported Rich Hall on his UK tour, and I still think he is – pound for pound - one of the finest comedians around. Paul Thorne and I formed a singing double act for a while (The Beverleys) which was just about the most fun you can have on stage – singing, getting big laughs, and getting paid – all with a good mate.
There were amazing ‘highs’ – getting the offer of my first paid booking from Peter Grahame at Downstairs at the King’s Head, and walking home like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain – there may well have been dancing. Being on stage at the legendary City Limits Comedy Club in Cork and seriously thinking someone else must have walked on stage behind me, such was the crowd’s enthusiasm for every joke. Then there was the great hospitality that followed...
There were also the odd nightmare gigs where they just didn’t 'get' me followed by the long drive home on my own, wincing inwardly and thinking, ‘Perhaps I’ll be a postman…’
Finally being booked for my first ‘weekend’ at The Comedy Store, having jumped through all the hoops of open-spots, paid ‘tens’, and twenty minute sets on every different night of the week.
Performing to large crowds of genial comedy fans at the Groningen Festival in Holland, then partying with them until the wee, small hours. All just great.
And there were the ill-advised but well-meaning promoters who would expect me to perform in rowdy pubs on a make-shift stage, to a bunch of drunk nutcases who hadn't bought tickets and weren't remotely interested in comedy – ‘Just do some jokes mate, you’ll be fine.’
By now, the other writing was taking off, so after twelve years, when the novelty of schlepping up and down motorways and being away from my young daughters had worn off, I decided to give up stand-up for good. I wasn’t getting the same buzz from it any more, and I didn’t want to have to start ‘faking it.’