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Previous PostsHearing the music When to quit I am not as other men Tonight I was funny Attack of the Drones Notes on your set Why Pissing off a Fellow Comedian was Fun Can I Just Say That iPads are Lame The Honest Truth Male identity
Blog ArchivesJanuary 1970
Wednesday, July 20
Hearing the music
Creativity is a funny old beast. There are some people who make a living from generating ideas and writing high quality drafts of things. There are some of those who can make the magic happen to order a little each day. Then there are those who go through a boom and bust cycle where either inspiration or motivation are lacking, and then suddenly the tap is full flow and won't switch off. The latter can be caused by a looming deadline.
Professionally in my non creative side, which I'm quite creative with in my own way, I can just about force the little each day approach, or indeed a lot each day. In general though, I'm the boom or bust sort. Either I'm in the zone or I'm not.
I've a lot to get a handle on in the next week or so. Some decisions to make, some events to prepare for... Much to do!
I couldn't muster the inspiration. I've used my trick of making it happen to me by attack of the diary. This works to a point, but it doesn't quite turn on the tap.
Then, this evening, as time was running out, ideas started coming to me. Silly nuggets of stuff, edits, fresh takes on things. Even a shopping list of old things to revisit...
It's a bit like the radio was turned on and I could hear the music coming from it.
It's nice when your thought processes kick in.
Perhaps I had made it happen too. Yesterday I went swimming to find inspiration. I found water and cool water at that. I also found aching muscles that had been hiding, dormant. Novelty breeds novelty, I guess.
If I were a better writer, I'd know how to end thi....
Saturday, July 9
When to quit
If you're in a situation where:
Then get out of that situation.
It's a case of change your circumstances or change your circumstances. Maybe you can make things better, or maybe making things better means giving up.
On balance, a recent decision I made to stop doing a project has proved to be the perfect outcome for me.
Tuesday, July 5
I am not as other men
I think I self sabotage is most conversations. There is a part of my brain asking what the most inappropriate or daft thing to say is. I then choose to say something from the list of options.
I would rather make a joke at the detriment of getting respect or trust, than stay silent or say the obvious.
I would rather fill the air with blether than sit bored with the usual run of the mill talk.
I talk in emotive terms and exaggerate to make myself understood.
This is not an illness, it's just a way of thinking that I seem to have cultivated. The down side is that I'm a bit of a dick. The up side is that I really try to hold the community of people I work with together with a fun way of expressing ourselves. When it works it's fun. I realise that a few people who are accustomed to presenting their ideas to me will have some adjusting to do when they come to work with others.
The downside is when I can't get the message across. When the communication style is not working, when the common language isn't there, when I can't get what I expect... Then I'm useless.
That's the next frontier. Either learn to appeal more broadly, or accept a broader range of contributions from other, or filter whom I work with more carefully.
Right now, everything's working just fine.
Friday, July 1
Tonight I was funny
Part of the drug of standup is that the gig can go either way. In fact the more you seek to guarantee the outcome the less the outcome will meet your expectations. To be successful on stage you have to be live, which means clearly open to the chance of failure.
This is opinion, and what does my opinion count for, eh?
I've not enjoyed a lot of things about the last two weeks. I took to the stage tonight with some difficult decisions on my mind. (Note: to anyone worried about my wellbeing, these decisions are not life changing or especially important.) I didn't have a plan, but you don't when you are MCing.
Tonight I was funny. Laughter happened, I made it. No idea how... Not entirely sure what I said. Nobody will care by tomorrow morning.
That's ok. Standup is my thing for me. I do it because it's part of what I do. I'm me because it is a part of what I do.
My daughter gets it. She knows that Daddy has a job where he goes out to make people laugh, and that is called a gig. It's simple for her. She thinks I probably wobble my face and blow raspberries to do it, but you can't know everything at just three.
I like what I do.
The central delight for me in standup is this. You have a thought and it makes someone laugh. The time from having the thought to getting the laugh is the potency of the delight. The shorter the time, the better.
Improvising some Brexit jokes without an agenda was fun tonight. Riffing on audience comments was lovely. I really should get out more!
Tuesday, May 31
Attack of the Drones
An Army Of CrawlersHere's an example of a recent comment on a recent WordPress article (yes, I do both WordPress and Blogger).
I want to to thank you fօr thks great read!!
I certaіnly enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to loоk
at new things you
Now. It turns out that this is just a robot. I call it the sycophantic robot, since it seems to come along to many of my posts, say something lovely, yet vapid, and have no apparent agenda. I don't know what it's trying to do. Perhaps:
I suspect that some sort of global SEO strategy is to blame for this. Fascinating.
Telephone call today:
Her: Hello this is Susan Parker. I've heard you were in an accident that was not your fault.
Me: I'm sorry. What's this about.
Me: Sorry, who are you?
Me: Are you human?
Me: Well if that's the case, why is there a long pause when you speak to me?
This was a robot. A chat bot. No idea how it worked or why they've got robots doing ambulance chasing. The number was 02079461848 and it's definitely a robot.
Saturday, April 30
Notes on your set
I've been helping some non-comedians make stand-up sets recently. Here are some random notes that came up. They are probably good advice to anyone doing a stand-up set:
There may be wisdom lurking in the above. Maybe not.
Friday, March 4
Why Pissing off a Fellow Comedian was Fun
A couple of weeks back, I got a notification via Facebook that there was a reply to a comment I'd made on someone's post. When I went to read that reply, I didn't have the right to see the post. It turned out that I also didn't have the right to see the comedian in question's profile anymore. BLOCKED! Wow!
This is not a big deal. It's really not important to be connected with every comedian under the sun, whether we've gigged together or not. I can't say that the individual is someone I particularly like or respect; I'd been finding him intolerably brash on Facebook, and he probably felt it, even though I kept my comments fairly jovial, and I'm glad not to be reading of his constant dick-swinging any more.
It's interesting, though. It turns out that some folks, who see themselves as deeply righteous and good people, cannot take a tiny bit of gentle piss-taking without their egos exploding. In the case of certain individuals, I kind of get that. I known one comedian who is so out there and outspoken, that the majority of things she reads about herself are from embittered anti-feminists or anti-atheists attacking her because it helps them deal with their own inadequacy. In this case, though, a white alpha-male sort, I would have expected a little more capability to take some light ribbing.
I'll not name the comedian, except to say he's an Australian with a grand sense of self.
The two episodes which provoked me to poke a tiny pin in his bubble were thus.
He'd done a show somewhere and someone came up to him after the show and told him an insensitive, racist joke. The right way to deal with this, in my opinion, is either to ignore it, or to say "that sucks" and then move on. According to this person's own post, he gave the fellow a 40 minute tirade, worthy of the closing act on an outrageous bill, tearing so many strips off him, that he would have won a medal in strip tearing offing.
My comment to this post:
"You're no shrinking violet"
I thought that was rather amusing, given the brash dickish behaviour this guy was boasting of.
Latterly he posted about how he was sick of being taken advantage off and that he felt the more he did for people the less he was respected for it. This from someone who dealt with a pay dispute with a club by bitching about it on Facebook, rather than negotiating pay terms with the club directly - a club who are trying to negotiate. I won't say the club's in the right or wrong, but perhaps someone who uses Facebook to air their contractual stuff is hardly a meek hard-done-to trying-to-please-everyone type.
"You're like a modern day Jesus"
His response was something like
"Go suck my dick you fucktard"
"Sorry, you're not Jesus. You're much too sweary"
It's really childish banter. It got me blocked.
I hope it's amusing to read about. It sort of still tickles me. Especially since other social media platforms are trying to get us to connect. I can't connect with him - he'll only see it as an attack on his huge, yet fragile, ego.
If you can guess who this bellend is, please get in touch. Ten points to anyone else who can take more piss out of him. I suspect he's actually a bully who justifies his behaviour because he claims to uphold socially just viewpoints.
Monday, February 8
Can I Just Say That iPads are Lame
That's not really the theme of this post, which I'm writing on the iPad I bought about a year ago. I'm also sorry to admit that we are now a two iPad family, having switched the Windows tablet for one a few days back too...
... They're great until you try to do something off the beaten track with them. I wanted to use a cheap bit of sound cue software. I wanted it to appear in the new side panel, but you can't do that with many apps. I wanted to get the sounds onto it from my Dropbox: I can play those sounds on the iPad, so surely I can save them in its memory and get them to be importable by the sound cue software? Not on your nelly.
iOS seems to sandbox every application so you can't really share files between them. There may be workarounds, but they involve using the computer to move things between apps using the godawful iTunes software. This is basically retarded. Computer file systems have been around since the 60s... Why can't my iPad have one?
On my android phone, a free equivalent piece of software was able to do the job in no time, having access to the random download folder that my files happen to have wandered into. Easy!
I digress before I've started, though. I guess these sorts of minor trials and tribulations are the theme of today, but this particular challenge was resolved on Friday.
Today's news is that I'm home having performed at my second Leicester comedy festival. The first was 2009's with mine and Hannah's show the Seven Deadly Jokes. Today I was at the same venue, which was really different to how I remember it. I don't think it has moved, I just thing I remember it wrong.
Putting this show together has been the wake up call my set and material needed, but it has been at a significant cost to my stress and sanity levels. And those of those around me.
Last night I did two run throughs of the final edited script. I was going to perform with notes on the stage, but those notes were more of a diagram of the order of the material with a few clues about its internal contents, which I didn't need to look at in the end, since writing the map basically committed a lot of the detail to memory.
Doing two hour long performances back to back is quite exhausting, especially with a tech setup before and after. Given I've been running on fumes anyway, this was even more draining. However, I was able to get through the show without mishap both times and got a good recording down, which I could use for passive rehearsal - i.e. listening to it back and giving myself notes.
This morning went wrong. My daughter's swimming lesson was threatened by the fact that I realised I had left the house without a swim nappy for her. I should have turned back. I realise that now. I took the double or quits strategy of trying to get one at the other end. I went to three shops, with my little girl running round after me like a micro challenge Anneka, and eventually got her the appropriate swim protection. She then had a third of a swimming lesson before it was time to get back out, so late were we running. Some might have aborted the whole mission, but she was so committed to the swim nappy search, and I was telling her about how to cope with a problem, which is either ignore it, live with it, or fix it... Basically we'd decided to fix the problem, so we were committed.
A quick lunch at home and it was time for me to go to Leicester. This resulted in:
Watching 2 shows before mine. Very good.
Doing my show... Hmmm...
Getting the student radio crew who had come to interview me to help me back to the car... Clever!
Doing the interview... Me blethering long answers to familiar questions.
Going off to watch my favourite Fringe act do a greatest hits show... I would have laughed harder, but was too tired and sore.
Not a bad score for a nearly 42 year old on a Sunday afternoon and evening. The comedy festival even tried to banjax things by taking tickets off sale the evening before the show... This somewhat invalidated the two for one offer they then promoted today. Despite this some people came and some of them even laughed.
I will watch the video later on. For now, I can say that I did a new show. I don't know what I think of it, but it went better than the swimming, and worked well with sound cues courtesy of Android.
The iPad's invite was revoked. It was replaced by a side of A5.
Friday, February 5
The Honest Truth
Firstly, DO come to see my new show. I think it will be pretty funny, interesting and diverting. Rehearsing it makes time go all funny... In a good way.
To be honest, though, this has been a really weird process. In an ideal world, I'd be working this hard over more months at an average rate, rather than having to sort it out at the last minute on an essay crisis style deadline. I know the creative process often works this way, but it has been a total baptism of fire at each point where I have moved the show forward.
In January I did new material nights and tried out bits and bobs that I'd half written with the show in mind. So few tryout nights meant I had to extrapolate what the end result ought to be, and I Hadley.e room to cut things. I also snuck some newer bits into sets and MCing gigs... Which worked...
The big question for me was how much of this stuff would end up in the final show and how it would be sandwiched between older material and linking sentences to turn the whole think into a single piece.
Today I ran through various versions of the show a few times. I found I learned it best by not learning it or having the script in front of me. I just fathomed it out. New songs, new bits... New all sorts.
I think my last cuts have brought it down to a 50 minute running time, but I can't be sure. It ran an hour in my last run through. Too long...
I have had a weird day. Equipment and techniques I've not used since before my children were born have been my sole focus. I have spontaneously invented bits and made script decisions, because there is no time to think twice. It has been exhausting but fulfilling...
... And I have a rotten cold and am over tired.
This will be an odd weekend.
Leicester Comedy Festival: 6pm, Sunday 7th Feb 2016. Who Wrote This Shit?
In a hurry.
Wednesday, January 13
You've got to love the anti-feminists. By love, I mean smother. Of course.
The anti-feminists have an impossible argument. Feminism in its simplest form is the idea that the opportunity for a woman should be equal to that of a man. How that equality is achieved, and how things are presently unequal is something which may be a matter of opinion, but fundamentally, it's not a difficult concept to grasp.
By the way, I'm mansplaining here, but this article is not for reading. Sorry, didn't I mention that. This is an exercise in thinking. Feel free to ignore.
For the anti-feminist to "win", they have to demonstrate either that:
Bizarrely, it's this last argument which becomes self-fulfilling, as these often aggressively insecure little men send so much hatred in the direction of their feminist foe - or foeminists - that they end up receiving plenty of it back, thus completing the cycle. I don't know the cure, though perhaps it's similar to what I once heard about someone who was cured of his belief in scientology because he ended up having a lot of sex with a Croatian woman. Perhaps that's what feminism needs - just sacrifice Croatia and you can have the world.
As a man who considers himself pro feminist, I can't always say that I agree with all individual feminist people's views. There's a very carefully constructed sentence! I don't think I'm supposed to agree with every person's view though. That would be as bad as automatically disagreeing with all their views because of who they are.
In some cases, I don't see the cause/effect the way its portrayed - for example, I don't have the same reaction to sexual imagery as some people I've encountered, and I think the power of that varies dependent on culture.
In some cases, I think there's an instinctive defensive reaction to being told that I'm in a position of power as a man, and that what me and my kind need is to back down in some way or another. The reason I can't comprehend that is that I don't feel especially empowered. I don't feel like Simba, the Lion King, set to inherit a great Kingdom, master of all I survey. Everywhere I look, I see people who may be doing worse, the same, or better than I am. So where's that so called advantage I'm supposed to have?
The answer is that, pound for pound, I may be better off that other people whom I can't see, and I have to rely on the statistics to tell the true story. Moreover, I can't use something relative to determine an absolute.
And this is the problem. Overall empowerment of a gender does not happen at the cost of disempowering another... well, it depends on what the power is. If the power is "mastery over all the bitches" then yes, empowering women will reduce that power. If the power is "I'm quite good at baking" then my baking skills are the same regardless of the existence of other bakers. You don't have to pull the ladder up, once you've reached a height - there's room for everyone up there.
Sure, the sense of accusation against my entire gender rankles a little, but we all need to challenge our own behaviour and expectations a little and perhaps there is a complacency you get from things always being so good. I'm awash with first world problems which would make people from poorer countries or even the past consider me to be a total prick. I get cross when my phone doesn't pick up 4G - to people of the past, I've got a magic light pebble, why am I being so goddamned ungrateful?
Where I can kind of relate to the anti-fems a bit is on the subject of male identity. Perhaps in the past one's culture as a man was expected to follow a certain template. I'm not sure I've ever followed that template myself, but I think there was one. I knew I didn't follow that template when people would say "Which team?" "I'm not on any team." "No, which football team do you support?" "I don't support a football team." "Ah, of course. Rugby. I should have known considering the size of you." "No, I'm not into sport. I like computers.". Crass though it may have been, male identity kind of used to work that way.You had a football team, you had a particular alcohol you drank, you never talked about your feelings and you'd try to suppress your baser instincts until you died.
Nowadays the big things that men used to pride themselves on, like ogling women, wearing sturdy but unattractive clothing, and using the term "whoooarh" a lot (it's an expression of either shared lust - look at her, whooarh - or of triumph - the lads won - whoooarh - or of a wistful desire to be a pirate) - those big things are not de-rigeur any more. Men have had to wake up to the possibility that there's more to life than being a man.
The last thing a man wants to do is work out how to have depth. There's no time, in between the ogling, the functional dressing and the whooaring.
The fact that for the first time ever, the James Bond film had a song where the man wasn't the alpha is a clue to this cultural shift. Normally Bond themes are a veiled or direct reference to the sheer might of a man. Either it's a women singing about her desire for a man, or a metaphor for a man (like a diamond, which is basically a penis, but a penis with a hardness measured on the Moh scale), or being ditched by a man, or it's a man, usually Tom Jones, singing about how great a man is. The most recent Bond Film had the plaintive crying of a man boy admitting that he's powerless without a woman.
That's a big change.
The supermen are questioning their powerbase.
... except they're not really because these sorts of things will require a lot more soul searching to hit the real world, but the influences are coming.
And young men these days have a dilemma of their own. How do they express their manhood? What's the badge you wear to show you're male and yet not a rapist?
Facial hair has been taking one for the team. It used to be that a man was either clean shaven or occasionally bearded, except in the seventies where everyone was very heavily bearded, which they used to absorb the smoke from their constant smoking. This fashion died out after the Yorkshire Ripper, a bearded man, was apprehended in the 1980's as it was felt that facial hair could, in some extreme circumstances, lead to prostitute murder.
But now bearded is back. You can be a non-rapist beardy if you use product. You can create a whole facial topiary all your own. Or you can use the new seven blade razor and have a shave so close that you'll panic every time you do it. At the rate that razors are gaining blades, by 2020, the average man will be applying 32768 blades to his face every morning, and a sneeze during shaving will be fatal.
There's even a template to follow. You grow a moustache for movember, because that reduces cancer up someone arse or something - I'm not sure if you're supposed to collect money too - then in December you add stubble to it, in a secret race with your friends to see who can claim to have a full Santa beard by the 25th. Then in January, you make it your new year's resolution not to play with it all the same and to occasionally mop the soup out of it.
Before you know it you're Brian Blessed.
That's the problem. The male role models are a bit one note. A big powerful loud man with a broad chest and a ginormous beard. That's supposed to be what we're aiming at...
There's more in my head, but that's enough for now.
Just to be clear, this is not really a political or serious column - it's a writing exercise for me to gain maybe 1 minute's worth of thoughts on a subject that in here somewhere. What I need is jokes, not original thought!
It's amazing the crap people read
For what I'm going to do in the next post, I sort of apologise. Before I go there, here's a frightening statistic. I've be writing this blog for years - since January 1970 if a computer error is to be believed - impressive since I wasn't born until February 1974 - since October 2001 if the facts are to be trusted. That's over 15 years of this shit. Luckily we're not in a boom period where I write all day every day - I've got better things to do with my time. Until nowish.
Anyway, the frightening statistic is that this blog, with its 15 years of content and some 2645 posts - yeah - 2645 often lengthy essays on stuff, as opposed to the people who are impressed when they've wanked out (and that's the word for it) a few hundred tweets... I digress. This blog has had around 52,500 page views - at least since Google started measuring it, which is when I started knowing.
Another blog I wrote years ago, FOR ABOUT A WEEK, with 100 or so posts on it, each of which was about a single website and was often no greater than a tweet, has had 60,000 hits. What I can conclude from this is that my best strategy for getting readers is not to write anything!?
If you want to join them, then head over to The World's Worst 100 Websites but basically don't because it's rubbish and I warned you!
The art of blogging in today's world has changed. People really don't take time to read stuff any more. Maybe that's why my self-exploratory stuff gets ignored while a shopping list of some websites is still Google hit fodder. Who knows!?
For my next article, I shall write for purposes that are not entirely apparent.
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