Cock gags and knuckling down to standup

About writing

I sat and listened to a standup comic tell jokes about his penis and wondered who hurt him. It was a night of new comedy, and I was there to be supportive. The hope at these shows is for gold to glisten … but this was as far away from funny as I’ve been in a long time.

From telling the audience that the male penis (his words not mine) is hard to control – and this is true when you’re a 14-year-old boy on a bone shaker bus – to claiming men always get erections when they hurt themselves, his routine failed to root itself in truth … and told me nothing of the storyteller. He ended with a skit on how men can (it seems) thrust their unpredictable penises at women in nightclubs with impunity and yet we frown on such behaviour in supermarket queues. It was hard to clap support.

What depressed me more was that this standup set came after a more experienced comic ‘fucked’ and ‘twatted’ his way through a ‘set’ that also involved thrusting his groin at a woman in the front row (along with an athletic tongue waggle), ending on a joke about how when his manager asked if there were ‘any queries in his office’, his shiningly witty response was: ‘I told him, this is 2018, you have to call them homosexuals.’

Frank Carson spun in his grave – or urn – who am I to make assumptions?

Learning to standup

I’m in week six (the halfway point) of an absolute beginners standup comedy course and if any of my fellow novices dared churn out such lines, our take no crap tutor would throw us from the stage.

It’s not like I think comedy has to be bland and take no risk. If something is funny, it’s funny. During a post-course pint, one guy on the course told me how he wanted to tell jokes that didn’t need him to swear. It’s weird that this will make him stand out – he’s lucky in that he’s funny though, but when did writers get so lazy that ‘fuck’ became the go-to filler word?

I don’t expect every comic to be the same. Back to that new comedy evening, and a later act recalled how her father took on elderly rescue dogs that promptly died. He buried them around her Wendy house … just not deep enough. Grim, but a line that spoke so much more about the person on stage.

#amwriting

My novel writing needs me to knuckle down and focus. The comedy course has my creative brain fixed on creating a three-minute set by the start of December. So far, I have next to nothing deemed close to acceptable. This means each spare minute finds me generating material, hoping for a quantity not quality result. I’ve applied my first rule of writing: when drafting an 80k word novel, at a conservative estimate it means writing four to five times that amount. When the first draft has sat in a digital box for a month or two, I resume the task. This means I cut, kill, revert, scrap and reset ideas. The same obsessive word smithery must surely apply to standup.

Toast of Brighton lies in pieces – crumbs and slices, if you will. As time allows, I reassemble, confident I have a big enough pot of glue for final this almost final edit. With a hugely significant December 30 deadline, I need to knuckle down.

I’m midway through redrafting a big chapter. One where a key character dives from a forbidden bed with his engorged member flapping. After the other night, this image has lost its comic shine. For that alone, I must thank that young male comic whose first standup gasps left me otherwise cold.

It’s all writing. It’s all words.

The Armchair Bride

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