Sometimes you just have to do things that you don't want to do. Sometimes you have to do things that you really don't think you're capable of doing. Today I did something that encompassed both of these things.
Today I had a singing lesson. I mean, I say I had a singing lesson, what I actually did was go round to the house of a very lovely young lady with a piano and make her dog bark for 4 hours. It was exhausting for all of us and, although she said the dog normally pees on the floor and it wasn't my fault, I don't think we'll be looking into repeat performances.
Don't get me wrong, I love singing, I just know my limitations. My vocal chords have the commitment levels of Kate Winslet after she utters the immortal line "I'll never let go, Jack." and then pushes the poor sod off into the sea to become tasty fish bait. At the first sign of danger my throat gets tighter than a virgin sparrow's fouffe and I can barely make a sound that isn't Tara Reid-esque at best in both pitch and intelligence.
Of course, like every other person on the planet I am an excellent singer... when alone in a car that's going 90 mph down the motorway at night with the best of Carly Simon on the CD player. In those circumstances I'm frigging Bette Midler at her peak, I'm how Celine Dion sounds when she's in the shower... I'm Britney if she was Christina.
In front of people I'm a bit more Cameron Diaz circa My Best Friend's Wedding. Singing in public seems to be all about confidence. Your voice is the Guide Dog and you're the blind person kind of hoping you didn't get a spiteful one that's going to lead you out into traffic in broad daylight. It's all about confidence in your voice; you have to let it do what it does and follow on behind nodding and looking surprised and breathing from your stomach. If I was meant to breath from my stomach, surely my lungs would be in my stomach? It just doesn't make any sense to me.
My voice today did exactly what I expected it to: nothing spectacular and everything to make the singing teacher's eyebrows dance the Hermione jig. I just don't have what it takes. The X Factor is sadly lacking from my genetic make up.
The thought of having to sing in front of an audience of people every day for the month of the Edinburgh Fringe (and a week at the Brighton Fringe) is currently reducing me to tears every time "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" gets back round to Pumba and Timon's bit at the end and I realise that's the only bit I can sing in tune. I am utterly petrified. Doing stand up sometimes makes me forget that there are still things like this that turn me into a jelly. As a comedian you're constantly told you are "brave". Every time I hear this a voice in my head says, "That's ridiculous, there's no real issue if it goes wrong - I'll know why it was and I'll work on it for next time." But this thought line comes from knowing what I'm doing... because I'll know how to fix it and I'll know I am capable of better even if that particular night doesn't go according to plan. However, with singing I'm getting an insight into how people must feel about comedy. If it goes wrong people are going to judge and I won't know how to rescue it by pointing to someone in the audience with a bad hair cut and making everyone else mock them.
I'm not allowed to give up on this though so it's essential I just swallow the tears and face the music. Having already gone running to my Mum and eaten a basket of Mini Eggs, I've exhausted my usual coping mechanisms and should probably get on with something pro active like practising. The next few months are going to be painful for most people in the vicinity with ears. I've already put a note through the neighbours' letter boxes to explain I'm moving out in 3 weeks anyway but I apologise for the inconvenience coming through the wall. No one should be overly surprised if the rate of machete attacks in Bermondsey increases over the next 3 weeks and then sharply transfers to Brighton.
Make humour out of the things that terrify you. Well, I've tried. I hope you it made you laugh in places. I'm off to find the nearest open window and some razor blades to gargle.