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Wednesday, August 5

Living with Disappointment

The life of a stand-up comedian or comedy writer... oh how I would love the life of one... yet to avoid it altogether would enable me to skip its indignities... yet to be living a life without that creative and something-or-other outlet drives me mad when I have too long between shows/events/things.

I'm resolved to do more of the things I love that make me me. The question right now is how. I'm not going to answer that question right now.

Instead, I'm going to dwell on the little indignities, the little ways that the payback for your efforts is a slap in the face with a wet fish. In so doing, I'm going to say how I feel about some events, recent and ancient. Before doing that, I need to set the context. I don't think I've been hard done by. I think the people I'm about to mention have been acting with the best of intentions and have actually been on my side. The focus of my disappointment is simply that I'm tasting what it might be like to maybe make an impression on achieving my dreams, while being left in absolutely no doubt that I'm nowhere near and not actually on the scale as far as they're concerned.

God this sounds depressing. I want to balance it out by being thankful, but let's tell the stories with me as the butt of the joke, because that's ok. It's perfectly fine to be a speck on a dot on the sphere you're trying to occupy, because so many people aren't even that. I'm just too aspirational sometimes, which leaves me disappointed by... well... reality!

Event number 1. I performed stand-up comedy at the Fringe one year, was noticed, and was given an award. How can that be bad?

On this particular year I'd thrown myself into the Fringe with my usual alacrity. I passed through many of the points of Edinburgh city simultaneously, and could be found in shows, in guest spots, and quite memorably performing on a bus. On the first gig they didn't even give me a mic stand, which made performing with a guitar on a moving vehicle a bit of a challenge.

I provided my mic stand for future shows and basically came up with a technique for playing, controlling the mic stand with my foot, leaning on a pole on the top deck of this bus, and kind of holding on with my arse on corners.

That was a year that some Fringe goers, who shall remain nameless, as they came and supported future shows, decided to hold an awards ceremony in which they decided, having seen my heroics on the bus and at other shows, to give me some sort of award for my... well... enthusiasm, tenacity, silliness and pragmatism simultaneously. I don't know wish.

I should have been, and was, flattered.

Couple of points. I wasn't invited to the awards ceremony. That's not the sort of award I win. Apparently. The award, when it arrived, was a word document. That's the sort of award I win. A word document with someone else's name on it. There you go. You're important, but not to the point of clerical effectiveness.

I found it funny at the time, but it kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Event number 2. I'm really not having a go at anyone involved. These things happen. But it's the Sitcom Trials.

I think this is a very good event, and I've always wanted to write a sitcom for them. It seemed like the sort of thing I'd enjoy doing. The story should have gone like this. I should have come up with a mediocre or hair-brained idea (tick). I should have submitted it (tick). It should have faded into obscurity and I could have said - "Well, I've no idea what I'm doing, have I?". That would have been a fun game with no sense of expectation or loss.

I am quite competitive, so nothing's ever that simple.

Moreoever, the judging for the event is done via a Facebook group, so I got to read everyone's comments and opinions on my work and wonder whether to be exasperate that they either hadn't got the script, or, worse, that they had and had seen right through my rookie skills.

In the end mine was a script that few people really loved, few people really hated and a handful of people thought might be okayish... Mediocrity. That old friend.

In the end I made two shortlists. Huh!? It turns out that two groups decided mine was less hateful to them than other options or somesuch. I was asked by one of them to do some redrafting. I also had a bunch of feedback from the reviewer comments, which I could use to improve the script.

I made a fatal error. I really started to care. I also didn't realise that one group was actually definitely going to perform my script. I found out... well, on the day almost. They ended up performing my redraft, which I can say now, was the best version of that script I'd come up with.

So what's the problem? I couldn't attend, the event was videoed, the video didn't work, there's about 75 seconds, out of context, of the show, where there are no laughs (scripted that way), and I've only got stories of how it might have actually gone on the night. Nobody else wanted to perform it, and it didn't get reviewed, nor did it win the night... so I've got virtually nothing to show for my experience.

It's life turning these little triumphs into murmuring disappointments that shows me what I haven't really achieved. It turns out that a live performer such as myself can't really relate to tales of laughs that his jokes may or may not have got. I want to know how the gags went, what the characters really were like. In short I want to be shown that I was worth being the award winner who got their name right... (the name on the video for the night had my name incorrect on the caption too).

I like all the people I've mentioned in the above stories. They were on my side. The end result, though...

I don't mind. Really I don't. I have to laugh at myself more, and these events require just that.

Disappointment is my middle name.

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