My Stand-up Comedy Challenge Achieved!! Yay!

I did it! Last Tuesday night I went to London and performed my 3-minute stand-up comedy routine at Up the Creek in Greenwich in front of an audience of around 200 people! I’ve been waiting to tell you about it until I had the footage, and now I can reveal all!

Those of you who have been reading my blog regularly know that I set myself this challenge as part of the research for The Dare Club – the novel I’m writing about a group of newly divorced and separated people who set themselves challenges as part of their recovery process. My character Colette is going to have a go at stand-up comedy, so I had to do it. I don’t feel the need to try out all my characters’ dares – after all I have got an imagination. But I really felt I needed to experience the terror of this particular one.

The day started at The London Theatre with a 1-1 with Harry Denford, the comedian who delivers the course. Feeling nervous, I ran through my material, and Harry suggested I cut some things and change others. I wasn’t entirely sure I agreed with everything he said, but hey, I’m the rookie – he’s been doing this for 20years or more, so I took his advice. Then we ran through it again, focussing on how to perform it so that the audience was involved rather than just being recited to. The session finished with him telling me that the other comedians were meeting in a noodle bar near Up the Creek at 5.45pm. “Look for a group of people who don’t look as if they should be together,” he advised me. “All sorts of people do this course.”

I went to Greenwich to look at the outside of the venue. It seemed surreal that later on I would be performing inside! But I didn’t feel tempted to flee to the nearest station to get the hell out of there. It had been far too difficult arranging childcare etc for that! Besides, I wanted to see what I was capable of.

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I killed the rest of the afternoon by alternately taking in the sights of Greenwich and practising my act in toilet cubicles. Close to the Cutty Sark, I spotted a man walking round talking to himself. “I bet he’s one of the comedians,” I thought, and sure enough, when I approached a group of people in the noodle bar at 5.45, there he was.

I made myself eat something and exchanged nervous chatter. Then all too soon it was time to go. I loved the inside of the comedy club, but all those empty seats were daunting. The other comedians had invited between 20-40 guests each! Mad! I’d invited 1, my mate Sharon, who I met when I went on holiday to Cuba. She had promised to film me doing my act.

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Harry told us all to have a go on stage, to practise going on and off and looking at the ‘audience’. The lights were so bright, you couldn’t see anything! How the heck was I supposed to choose someone to deliver my punch lines to? Then we went upstairs to a room dominated by a picture based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, but with the faces of 1980s comedians replacing the usual cast. Julian Clary looked particularly fetching.

The Comedy Last Supper painting

The Comedy Last Supper painting

After a long wait and lots more angst and practise, Harry announced the running order. I was to go 4th, after a guy who looked like a younger Colin Firth. I was happy with 4th – not 1st, but not having to wait too long. Good.

Then it was time to go downstairs.

The place was packed out – not a spare seat! Sharon was at the front with her video camera. It was real – it was actually going to happen!

The chairs for the performers were arranged around the back of the club. It was a bit like one of those hairdressers where you don’t need an appointment and you keep moving round until it’s you turn. But when I got to the last seat, I couldn’t sit down. I was too pumped up with adrenalin. Just before the MC announced my name, I did a few jumps and arms wings, limbering up. I expect I looked like a prat, but that was the least of my concerns at that moment.

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Then it was time. And amazingly, a feeling of calm settled over me as I went up the steps to the stage. We’d been told to take the mic out of the stand and to put the stand behind us. I did so – it took an age. But then I looked out at the invisible audience, said ‘hello’ and dived in.

Ok, it wasn’t perfect.

I didn’t have the mic quite in the right place to begin with so I started off a bit quiet.

I forgot to include one of my jokes, which meant the one that preceded it didn’t work quite so well.

Because I’d made some cuts, my routine was slightly short.

But I loved it! People laughed and it felt amazing. I didn’t want it to end. And when total strangers congratulated me at the bar later, I just felt so proud of myself. All the next day, I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt transformed. Who’d have thought that I, who’d once been so painfully shy I couldn’t speak up in front of people at all, could actually go up on stage and entertain a large crowd of people?

I whole-heartedly recommend the experience to everyone.

If you’d like to see my performance, you can view it on YouTube by clicking here. But be warned, it contains swearing, lies and smut, so give it a miss if these are likely to offend you!

Would I do it again? You bet your life I would! In fact, I need to seek out opportunities to make it happen.

And Colette? How is she going to get on? Well, she’s going to have a mixed experience. She’s got a particular reason for wanting to do this challenge, and because of that, she’s going to choose to ignore some of her tutor’s advice. So it could all go horribly wrong for her… Well, it’s fiction, isn’t it? I can’t give my characters a completely easy ride.

Watch this space!

The Dare Club will be out later in 2013. It is the follow up book to The Goddess Workshop, which is available on Amazon now.

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Available for Kindle and in paperback from http://www.amazon.co.uk

 

Coming later in 2013!

Coming later in 2013!

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Beating Word into Submission and Telling Jokes to the Mirror

It’s been a busy few weeks and the house is not looking its best. I’ve done the basics – washing, food shopping and preparation and essential dog walking and child organisation. But that’s it.

I’ve had my nose to the grindstone trying to publish The Goddess Workshop as a paperback via Create Space. A writer friend I know through the Women’s Fiction Crit Group on http://www.authonomy.com told me that “publishing through Create Space is a matter of beating Word into submission” and, I can tell you, she’s right! I now know such things as how to have page numbers in some places and not in others and how to stop the widows and orphans control function. Don’t worry, I haven’t been going about being unpleasant to  any bereaved people – it just means that now the bottoms of all the pages in my book line up the way the tops all do. Might sound like a small thing, and obviously the story is what counts, but you don’t want to have anything to distract readers from the story, do you? But hopefully everything’s OK now – a proof copy should be winging its way to me as I type, and then provided it’s all right, it should be all systems’s go. Hurrah!

I haven’t wanted to lose momentum with The Dare Club while I’ve been occupied with all this stuff, so I’ve been doing an hour’s writing every morning before my son wakes up, starting around 6.00am. I know, dedicated or what? Some might prefer to say crazy, I realize.

Anyway, next Tuesday – 21st – it will be time for me to go to London to complete my comedy challenge by performing for 3 minutes in front of an audience. So I will be doing lots of talking to myself as I practice and memorize my routine. Not to mention choosing the outfit to wear on stage… Is this an excuse for a shopping trip I wonder?

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I’m trying to look goofy, silly! It’s all part of the act!

And then I’ll definitely have to turn my attention to my house, because my mother-in-law is staying overnight to help out with childcare, and if you could see how pristine her house always is, you’d understand why I turn into a whirling housework dervish every time she visits.

Think of me next Tuesday night! 🙂

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Help, Mum! Why Didn’t You Send Me to Finishing School?

I’ve decided to join The Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA)! Or rather, rejoin it, because I was a member some years ago.

I recently started being followed on Twitter by @writeromantics and investigated their excellent blog. They are all members of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, which gives invaluable feedback to writers on their draft novels. They have included a link to my novel The Goddess Workshop on their blog which is very kind of them, and invited me to be interviewed some time in the future, which I very much look forward to. 🙂

I read on the Writeromantics blog that one of their members acquired their agent after she had met and spoken to her at the RNA winter party – which is why I am inspired to rejoin. Someone else recently reminded me that it’s much more valuable to meet people face-to-face, and I should know, because it was a chance meeting that led to me having my fiction published by Cambridge University Press and Cengage Learning. So, I’m going to join, and I’m going to go along to social events.

So far so good.

In a matter of weeks I’m going to be appearing on stage in London telling jokes for 3 minutes. Everyone keeps telling me how brave I am, and I am going to feel nervous, of course. But when I’m in a big social gathering, faced with a room full of people I don’t know – albeit fellow writers I have loads in common with – I feel very nervous about that too!

Here are two pictures of parties. Guess which one I’d feel most at home at.

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Where’s the party food?

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Do you come here often?

I simply seem to lack the gene which allows me to socialize easily – to glide smilingly around the room asking and answering questions without a desperate look on my face, taking care to make the most of opportunities that come my way. I can do it, but it’s an ordeal when it should be fun.

But I really shouldn’t be confessing all this to you – the last time I said a similar thing to someone at a writer’s party she gave me a “why am wasting my time speaking to you?” look and scarpered.

Her loss, because I’m interesting and funny, and I have a lot of useful knowledge to bestow.

I’ve just got to believe it myself! See you at an RNA meeting soon! 🙂

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