Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Would I Book Myself?

It’s been a couple of months since I wrote anything on here – a few reasons really, hyper-busy at work, a few gigs and just generally feeling like I don’t want to write anything – suffice to say the numbers of visits my website has had has really dropped off (apart from in the Ukraine, where I am either incredibly popular or someone is desperate to break into my site). Anyway, it’s been 2 months, and I have something to say.

I had a gig tonight, it was okay, I was headlining and it was a paid gig. I wasn’t terrible, but I also wasn’t brilliant. But as I was driving home I felt, as I have a lot recently after gigging, a little hollow and, weirdly a little sad. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for a while and here’s where I’ve ended up (in bullet point fashion).

  • I don’t like my set/material/musical comedy
    This won’t be a surprise to some people, I’ve known it for a while and been in denial about it I guess. It’s lowest common denominator, shock comedy hidden behind me trying to be quite affable. If I was watching I’d admire the commitment but not the art. That’s precisely the problem, it’s not art, it’s formulaic and, well, it’s not me. I was told that I have “a dirty mind” by a comedian I respect very much. That’s the nub of the problem, I can think it up but it’s not who I am, I can’t live the filth, fundamentally my beliefs are out of kilter with my stage performance.
  • It’s been 6 years of going nowhere
    I did a comedy course in 2012 and then started. I mentioned this to Louise yesterday and she, wisely, pointed out that I’d never really pushed for gigs or myself, it’d always been a hobby. The reality is I don’t want to do comedy clubs (at the moment, maybe I never have), or weekends at the store. Sure I like gigging and performing in front of people, and I feel compelled to do it regularly, but that’s once a fortnight not nightly. 6 years has taught me what I don’t want to be, and given me ideas of what I could do but I’ve not really heeded what I’ve learnt.
  • The only bit of stand up / comedy I’m actually proud of is Truth
    I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve been proud of in those 6 years and I can get to 2 things. The first is Truth (link), the show I wrote last year, did once, and then, after failing to get an Edinburgh venue, never did again, the second are my storytelling sets (but only outside the context of a comedy club). Sure I’ve enjoyed smashing the odd gig (I’ve died a fair few times as well), but those 2 things filled a hole, briefly, that gig smashing (or dying) never really came close to.
  • People laugh but say nothing after
    You might think I’m beating myself up a bit, but it’s about pride and feeling like I’m making something worthy of even being remembered. At the moment I come offstage and, while people have laughed, there’s no follow up, noone’s compelled to ask me about what I did, because it’s disposable, empty, there’s a moment of a laugh but then nothing more. The storytelling sets had that, the show had that – they had flaws and weren’t perfect but they weren’t throwaway.

Ultimately I asked myself would I book myself? Or, under what circumstances would I book myself?

Here’s my answer – “no I wouldn’t”.

Why not? Well it’s crass comedy, it’s quite well performed but that doesn’t make it good, it makes me stage comfortable. It’s not clever, it doesn’t change your perspective on the world, it’s, simply put, not the sort of thing I’d book or be arsed about watching. The only circumstance I’d book me is for a footballers dinner or as a contrast act to provide variation to the evening – the problem is I’d rather be the thing I contrast.

So where’s that leave me. Well, I’m going to knock the musical comedy on the head for a bit. Also stop doing anything paid (luckily my 2 paid gigs of the year have happened and everything else booked in is new material). I love playing piano, and singing, but I can do that at home. I’m going to gig less and only do new stuff that is me (even if it means that I die on stage much more). I’m going to try doing some different things to see what fits. Get back doing new stuff and taking risks, maybe do some non-stand up things, try and find out something I’d exceptional at and love, rather than something I can turn my hand to.

I’ve never had a deadline for when I’d stop doing comedy, it’s been a hobby, and if it’s ever going to not be one then I need to find my niche or where I feel fulfilled. 6 years to find out what you don’t want to do is, I think, money well spent, but only if you twist when you find yourself stuck.

Night x