Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Comedy deaths, Man Utd and the pit of despair.

I’ve found that recently I’ve become, metaphorically, in my comedy career, Man Utd.

It was all going so well a few months back, I was in a weird comedy zone where everything just seemed to work and was easy, I didn’t feel under pressure at gigs and was performing and felt really happy on stage. I was having a purple patch, metaphorically playing the best football I had for a while and then, even when a little off colour, still bringing the result home.

Since then however I seem to have hit a massive slump.

It started when I came back from 6 weeks out to do some theatre work and being on stage just hasn’t felt the same. The sharpness has gone and been replaced with anxiousness and a rushing and stamping of lines. I don’t feel like I have the same control over the audience and myself as I had. Part of it is practice, but I’ve had long gaps between gigs before and its never been a problem.

Part of me wonders if it’s because of trying to still search for my comedy voice that I feel all over the shop. My energy levels vary massively, moods, tone, everything is variable. The storytelling has been getting less rewarding to do as it’s so formulaic, but my stand-up is, stylistically, completely different. I’ve also started the musical comedy, which, while largely enjoyable doesn’t really fit well either. It feels like I’m moving from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and then 3-5-2 with no consideration for the players available, relative skills or time training.

It’s all accumulated recently into a series of eerie deaths and a whole load of soul searching. I’m not really sure what to do if I’m honest, even dying I’m enjoying doing the gigs, but I also know that my mood swings away from comedy are hitting it quite badly. My excitement about writing is getting harder and I’m struggling to find space and time to write effectively. I also don’t desperately want to do paid work, or do “the circuit”, just be a good comedian and occasionally write great shows.

When I was in Edinburgh I saw Will Adamsdale’s show which was clever, theatrical, funny and wordy and it really appealed to me. But I don’t feel original at the moment. So much so that I’ve started writing a short set about how unoriginal everything I think of is. Which is, in itself, not original. I find it soul destroying, the generic themes of stand-up, originality seems in such short supply at points and I find myself part of the unoriginal group. Which is fine, it is, sometimes it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but I don’t want to be attached to a cart, I’d like to be triangular or a pentagon, or a spoon, just different, good, and unusual.

I think part of this is maybe stress at work and home overloading me a bit at the moment, the mood swings and incoherent anger that accompanies them is exhausting and I don’t feel happy and content at the moment, more stressed and worried. That constant worry and seriousness feels like it’s building and building and is contributing to it all. I think I used to be more fun, and less, just anxious and curmudgeonly. It doesn’t seem to be just comedy, my playwrighting has got harder and harder to a point where I can’t concentrate or find space or time.

I wonder if there’s a career element in there too, a frustration that, as I reach my fourth decade that I have no possessions, house, etc… That I’m doing a job I find relatively easy and the opportunities to develop seem to be closing around me. Maybe it’s a wholesale choice to be made?

So what’s to be done? I don’t know. I could spend hard before the window closes, continue to plug away or simply hope Tom Cleverley manages a simple pass just once and shows the ability that he promised on loan at Wigan. Or I could de-clutter, stop doing stuff for a bit and get my priorities straight. Or something else.

Or maybe I should just play 3-5-2 until I get relegated.

**my apologies for this whining post and also for the excessive amount of metaphor in this.