19.4.12 revised after first posting – see EDIT later on.
It is with a huge amount of trepidation that I bring you the following thoughts. I stand on the precipice of my humble life in comedy. Frankly I may blow it all for ‘speaking my mind’. However speak it I must.
Two separate things have happened to me today that have made me think about comedy and my fellow comedians. I woke up to receive the following email from Jongleurs. Jongleurs if you don’t know are famous brand in comedy, blah blah blah history – it was sold, used to be called something else (Highlight), blah blah, went bust, got name back, different company. Whatever. Jongleurs/Highlights do get a fair bit of stick. I’m no expert I’ve never been a regular. I’ve played three different Jongleurs/Highlights clubs in my time. I liked the Battersea one; Graham the soundman is a dude. He’s at the Comedy Store in London now. The Leeds one is lovely, low ceiling – I played it quite a few times haven’t done for years.
The Manchester one was a hole. Horrible, I played it a few times always last minute. The last time I was there someone threw a chicken wing at me (chewed). I walked off stage and never went back. I’ve not gigged for them for years. So I was surprised to be on their email list.
To celebrate the launch of the new Jongleurs Piccadilly venue, we are holding the very first Comic Idol competition in conjunction with The Sun, that is open to ANY form of comedy – songs, magic, mime, poetry, sketches and of course stand-up itself.
Anybody from absolute beginners to circuit veterans can take part – and the winner receives a performing contract with Jongleurs and a cash prize.
Auditions take place at the brand new Jongleurs Piccadilly venue on Haymarket, London W1 on May 14th.
There will be a final date, which is to be confirmed.
To submit an application, please fill out the application form at
Please email email@example.com with any questions not on the application form.
Good luck and I really look forward to seeing you.
With the Sun? Really? Of all the brands you could have gone with you went with The Sun? But let us not dwell, let’s remember this is ANY form of comedy – songs, magic, mime, poetry, sketches and of course stand-up itself. Good I do stand-up.
I’m presuming I’d fall into the circuit veteran category. Well that sounds like something I can’t afford to miss. A performing contract with Jongleurs. Oh and a cash prize. I don’t know why – but I couldn’t resist clicking on the link. It gets worse.
The live event will be hosted by Cole Parker (ITV1′s Show Me The Funny) and The Sun’s Comedy Columnist Tommy Holgate, with comedy actress Lou Michelle and Lauren McAvoy (Britain’s Next Top Model winner) ensuring the very best video reportage.
The judging panel will consist of Jongleurs founder and owner Maria Kempinska, Comedy Producer Jerry Palmer and iconic ‘Allo ‘Allo! actress Vicki Michelle.
It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be good does it? Doubtless though people will enter. Even some from the circuit. I’ve seen a little bit of discourse on social networks today, one or two people have texted me. No one though has said publicly – hang on this sounds a bit shit. It’s like this every time. You know why? It’s because comedians are insular self-centred pieces of work. All of us.
There is a huge amount of jealousy in comedy, a good dollop of backstabbing and more than a fair share of bitchiness. Comedians rise up the ranks through either hard work or by being lucky. I must say I’m sick of the number of really poor comedians who rise to Arena tours and television shows through luck alone.
It happens nearly every week. Monday they are dong the Dog and Broom Open Mic night in Huddersfield next thing you know they are swapping bon mots with Gwyneth Paltrow on Graham Norton’s show the very next weekend. Bollocks obviously. Every single comedian that has risen to a level of success one could be jealous of in the least ten years has had ‘something’. You might not like what they have BUT enough of an audience do – fair play hey? Yet, I can think of only one or two comedians that have made the leap who have escaped barbs and sneery comments from the ‘circuit’. Ah that word – the ‘circuit’. Literally it can be taken as meaning a continuous loop of doing the same thing over and over again, going nowhere, but tiring yourself out as you plod endlessly towards death. For some of us that’s what the circuit is for others they build up enough momentum to launch themselves from it.
However it could be perceived as a community of like-minded souls, all with a common purpose to entertain (and inform) audiences up and down this land. A band of comedic brothers. It’s never that though. There isn’t a community, a union, and a common set of values. It is by its very nature a bitchy narrow-minded ego fest. You know what – that’s fine. The adage it’s show business not show friends is very true, I’ve made some great friends during my time, I’ve also met people I like enough to spend evenings and weekends away with. I’ve travelled to far corners to do gigs with very different personalities and in the main I’ve got along fine with all of them.
However there are people I don’t like on the circuit. There are others I mistrust, can’t abide, and am bored of – y’know like life itself? There are a number I wouldn’t throw the complimentary water from the dressing room onto if they were on fire. Yet another old adage rings true – it’s nice to be nice, or even if you have nothing nice to say – say nothing at all. I’m of the opinion that you’ll never get along with some people and what is the point of worrying or trying to make friends with people you wouldn’t in real life. I’m nearly 42 – I’ve got enough mates.
EDIT I’m editing this paragraph in after speaking to a couple of people I like and respect – I don’t wish to come across as someone who HATES comedy and comedians – I don’t at all. I love comedy and get along with 99% of my colleagues, I just get a bit tired sometimes with the negativity that maybe I’ve projected myself in this piece. Hope you allow me the courtesy of slightly altering my position – please like me! EDIT
However today I got a little bit annoyed. There are pictures in the media of John Bishop (and David Walliams but I don’t know him) posing for photos with David Cameron.
They are from a Downing St event where people (celebrities to be fair) were thanked for their efforts during the recent Sport Relief campaign. I’m not a Cameron fan – far from it, but I understand how these things must work. It’s Downing St who invite you, you meet David Cameron, have a glass of fizz, eat some canapés, shake some hands, photos get taken and the charity gets a bit more profile.
It’s quite a naff picture, an opportunistic PR grab by Big Society Prime Minister, he ends up looking good supporting John and David Walliams and the rest in their efforts. Where is the problem in that? It seems though this is distasteful to the circuit. Through social networking I saw a number of people I like (and like a lot in one instance) had posted the picture and this led to some frankly horrible comments. Now John is a big lad and I’d go as far to imagine he couldn’t give a shit. However I couldn’t help think wouldn’t it be nice to be nice for once about someone who has done well for himself, and done something nice for other people. It’s taken me over a thousand words to realise it’s because what I have known all along – comedians aren’t always lovely.
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