I’ve noticed that recently my blog posts have gone from witty, hilarious anecdotal, nuanced pieces and become rather predictable – while keeping gig notes is, for me, really useful, I appreciate that outside the comedy community is can be quite dull. It’s been remarkable how people go from “please tell me more about doing stand-up” to a glazed over suicidal look when you tell them about the intricacies of being booed by 170 people in Preston.
I wanted to write something about inspiration this evening – partly because in some areas of my life I am feeling lots and another very little. To be honest, I’m struggling with the old playwrighting, while writing stand-up has become simple – I am motivated to do it I think because of the immediacy of having a gig always round the corner whereas with playwrighting the moment of delivery is months if not years away.
I was asked what made me do stand up for the first time and if I’m honest it was a show I saw in Edinburgh 2012. The show was about small steps leading to big resolves. Take a big deal, a huge event, for the show in question one of the examples was taking a flight to Australia to see a girl who may or may not be interested. That’s a huge deal with loads of potential barriers in the way. But, the show argued, if you break it down, so that the end result is no longer a goal merely a consequence of many smaller, manageable more bite sized actions then the end result will be easier to arrive at.
I applied this to standup, bitesize small leaps leading to the goal of performing once but a goal that became a byproduct of the smaller leaps rather than a target. I’m not sure I’ve explained this very well but it’s a mental state as much as anything else and also how you view the world.
Take baking a cake.
I WILL BAKE A CAKE
It’s a statement of intent that opens up loads of other big questions – what type, will it be fruit, will there be chocolate, are you even good at making cake, what if noone you know likes it, do you have a bowl, is the bowl big enough, do I even like cake?
It’s a terrifying proposition.
Now what about if you forget that the end result is cake and just focus on the individual steps.
Step 1 – Do I have flour?
Step 2 – Do I have butter?
Step 3 – Do I have a filling?
Isn’t that just a nicer way of looking at things – less scary.
In the same way I applied this to stand up. Instead of thinking I will perform stand up I broke it down.
Step 1 – Are there any stand up courses?
Step 2 – When does it start?
Step 3 – Make sure I arrive on time?
Step 4 – Practice in my room?
Step 5 – Practice in front of course mates?
Step 6 – Get a beer afterwards?
It made it simpler – easier to do and less scary. That show inspired me by offering a solution of how to achieve big things.
I find myself on the verge of touring a show nationally, writing a new play and working on R&D for a comedy and I’m trying to approach it in the same way.
That’s all really for tonight. Not deep but this is what’s been on my mind.