Horizon Apartments, Adelaide
I shouldn’t be left on my own for two long. I drank four bottles of Cooper’s pale ale yesterday and giggled until I fell asleep. I woke at about 6pm feeling groggy and set out to find Nova Cinema where Josie Long was doing her show. It was her first night and she only got here yesterday and so, like me, was feeling like she was on the moon.
The show was great. It’s called Trying Is Good, and it’s a show about effort, and how it’s always better to try and fail than be cynical. I saw it in Edinburgh, but I liked it better this time, maybe because there was air conditioning, maybe because I was more relaxed, but mostly, I think because Josie was more comfortable with it. In Edinburgh I feel we’re all trying the stuff out, like we’re not sure if what we’re saying works totally. When we get out on tour it’s doctrine, it’s truth and we’re able to sell it to our audience much better. Maybe I’m applying too much of my own thoughts to her show, but that’s what it felt like. A lot is made of Josie’s indie kookiness. I’ll admit it is refreshing to see a comic that isn’t all (in her words): “I’m going to entertain the shit out of you. What’s your name? You’re a dick.” However, for me that’s less of a novelty as I’ve been friends with lovable eccentrics all my life. I just think Josie Long is a first rate comedian, with brilliant jokes who knows herself. Someone asked me in an interview the other day how to handle a crowd. I said I didn’t know and waffled for a bit, but eventually arrived at the point that if you know yourself then an audience will always come with you. It’s this that makes Russell Brand an excellent comedian. He’s worked out, probably during the lows of his life, who Russell Brand is, and it’s water tight. As for me, well I’m not sure yet. My show, like Josie’s, is, for want of a less wanky phrase, a journey of self-discovery. A trip to find out what we think about the world, what means something to us.
Sometimes I wish I was a straight stand-up. That way I could concentrate on what it is I want to say, who I was, instead of being a poster boy for this “weird and wacky art form that you wouldn’t think you liked but you just might.” That gets pretty dull after a while. That said, I think a lot of that is my own doing. I’ve always pushed the liking of live poetry as much as my own stuff. Poet Laureate is effectively about my love of poetry. I guess maybe that’s all I’ve had to say for myself until recently. Poet & Man is really my first proper show. The theme is loosely “honour,” being the quiet man doing good over the show boating egotist. It’s the closest I’ve got to an over all philosophy. I remember having this debate with myself in Edinburgh. I sometimes worry that I’ve spent so much time dedicating myself to my career that I am essentially empty beyond the desire for bigger audiences and better press. It’s a dark thought.
However, in recent months I have gone some way to trying to rectify this situation. I took the job at New Writing Partnership for a number of reasons, but one was definitely to get a more ‘normal’ perspective on life. I don’t have this unrealistic bohemian view of myself as a crazy artistic type, but the fact remains that in 2006 and early 2007 I spent more time on the road than at home; I don’t keep regular meal times; and 100 nights a year or so I stand in front a room full of people and talk while they listen and laugh. I don’t think that’s entirely helpful to a young man with a junk food addiction and ego problems.
This year at Edinburgh I’m going to do a set, not a show, but I’ll be trying material that might well make it into a show the following year. The show I think will be about my ‘normal’ life (wife, cat, tv on demand, DIY etc) Vs. the weird unglamorous rock n roll part of life. And also the ego issues of having your face on a poster and in The Guardian Vs. the ultimate futility of what it is I do. I mean I hope this isn’t all futile. I hope that one day I will write something of lasting merit, but even if I do would it have really been a good use of my time and life? People moan about footballers earning millions for kicking a ball, and they’re right too. I am desperate to arrive at a situation where I fill theatres and art centres, but at the moment I am still indirectly (and directly, when I go to Edinburgh) working in the ‘funded arts.’ I’ll be honest, I have moments of massive guilt. It doesn’t seem fair that an Arts Centre should loose money on my show such as Aldershot did the other night. I can only hope that I start pulling bigger crowds soon.
Right – moan over, I will:
1) Write show that reflects true nature of soul
2) Get more people to like my work
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. I seriously didn’t plan that as a joke, but that hilarious.
For the time being I guess it’s just chin up – it’s 30 degrees outside.
ALSO – I bough the new Mountain Goats album yesterday. It’s cool. More drums, harsher, more like Tallahassee than the last three. I love the Mountain Goats, they make my life better. Bingo, I guess that’s why I do what I do, in the hope that my work will one day enrich someone’s life in the same way my life had been enriched by: Dylan, The Beatles, John Cooper Clarke, Betjeman, Martin Newell, Damon Albarn, Jake Thackray, The Mountain Goats, Stewart Lee, Evelyn Waugh, Richard Herring, Jarvis Cocker, Dave Eggers, Phillip Larkin …