Friday, June 10, 2011

Gigging in the House of God

Friday afternoon has never felt like such an important thing to be sitting in. Many beverages will be drunk tonight. Small ones, big ones, some as big as your head. I am excited. Before that I still have another hour of booking things to do and it's beginning to get me down now.

This week I started to compile a list of reasons why, on paper, my life is curiously sucky at best and delusionally optimistic at worst -

1. I book trains for a living in an attempt to be a full time comedian.
2. When I do gig they are always weird.
3. I have started wearing men's deoderant in an attempt to convince myself I am not a spinster whenever I gesticulate wildly and cause a waft.

I caught up with my best friend for a coffee last night in between work organising vehicles moving in straight lines, and the gig I had to do (more on that later). She was telling me about the man she was seeing, how her job was going and about the holiday she had booked for the end of the year. She asked me how I was... and I didn't have a single straight answer to give her...

"Well, I jacked in my job last week so I could go off and chase that dream we've always talked about. Yeah, that one. Remember how we think it's so cool that I've never given up? It's feeling less and less cool now... Erm, but yeah, I'm gigging loads at the moment. Actually, got a gig tonight. No, it's not at a comedy club... it's actually at a church. Yeah, they're celebrating Pentecost festival and I'm the entertainment. No, no I don't actually know what Pentecost is... do you think it'll matter? Yes. Yes, you're probably right. No, I don't know why they've booked me either. I guess the worst that can happen is that they'll hate it but have to forgive me. Men? Erm... well, not exactly. I mean, I stare at people sometimes and there was this one guy I quite like but..."

It was at this point her eyes kind of glazed over and you could see her wishing she had a normal friend so that we could both afford to eat when we go out and her friend would be able to stay the entire evening instead of dashing off to attempt to make funny out of the apostles. She hurriedly assured me that we probably wouldn't be friends if I wasn't so weird. I'm not convinced.

The gig actually was a lot of fun; I definitely wasn't expecting it to be. I think in this country it's very easy to treat Christianity with a mocking hand because we're so numbed to its presence in our society. We are certainly a lot looser with our mockery against Christians than Muslims and I think it's very wrong. You can't see one religion as more sacred because we understand it less and it's from further away.

The reason I was nervous about the gig, is that when you're booked for an audience who all have a strong identity you are even more so the outsider than you usually would be. The comedian is always the outsider - they talk over everybody, they hog the limelight and they are alone on stage. So when you're stood up trying to tell jokes on your own and you're faced with 50 people of a religious identity, it's very easy to let that wash over you to the point where you feel there is nothing that will ingratiate you to their group.

But last night I found that when you're booked as a comedian, it doesn't matter what the group's reason for gathering is, they want you to amuse them and talk to them and make them feel happy. I played around with the idea of Pentecost and worked on some site specific jokes - but more for my own calming than for theirs it would seem. My standard material (cleaned up a bit - we were in a chuirch after all!) was just as appreciated as anything tailor made.

I'm so glad I did the gig - it feels like another learning curve successfully negotiated without a tyre spin and flames. Now to just make sure the 17:22 is booked on time and I'm an all round winner... oh, and maybe invest in some Dove and stop thinking of excuses to put my arms above my head.

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