By Daisy Bard
Hello from half term! I’m on a beach in sunny Mexico tanning and drinking a strawberry mojito. Wish you were here, kiss kiss.
No. Wait. I’m in my fourth full day of work and smashing through my new portfolio, slowly but surely, with ink in my pen and a song in my heart. It’s going well enough, thanks for asking. But I’m not writing about that. Today I grace you with the story of starting to write my 5 minute standup set, which I’m delivering tonight at the Comedy School.
It’s been one of those tasks I’ve put off a few times, partly because I needed a couple of days to relax and not think about any school stuff (this included), and partly because the idea of facing the humiliation of failing at standup, many people’s worst nightmare, wasn’t something into which I cared to jump headlong. So instead I allowed it to lurk in the background, seemingly becoming more and more insurmountable every time I let my mind wander towards it.
But now I’ve started, and I’m less afraid than I was a few days ago.
After facing the very real possibility that I would be ‘the least funny man in Christendom’ (trademark Rollo Skinner a few weeks ago), first thing was to get a skeleton. Figure out the basics of what I was going to talk about, without worrying about making anyone laugh. As our teacher Mr Cee puts it, ‘if it’s funny, that’s a bonus.’ So I wrote a few different versions, on varying subjects: aspects of my character, things that had happened to me recently and how I reacted to them, observations about life.
I ran these by my brother, who’s written standup before and isn’t afraid to be brutal, to work out which was the most potentially funny. And then a friend, so I could get a female perspective too. I told them not to take any prisoners. Getting feedback is crucial, and the first time shouldn’t be in front of an audience. Certainly not at this stage, anyway. My brother tore my first couple of routes to shreds, declaring one of them ‘way too dark’. So the third route prevailed, if only by default.
And then I honed. I littered the text with gags and rated them all out of ten. Being no stranger to the out-of-ten rating system (cough *Marc Lewis* cough), I wasn’t surprised to get this instruction as homework. And it was a useful way of separating the weak from the chat.
Lastly, I tried performing it on my own. A few times, to see if I was getting the best out of the timing. I’m not convinced I’ve nailed this yet as I’ve always preferred writing to performing. But at least giving it a few tries helped me to feel less nervous – not to mention chop and change the bits that dragged.
Now I’m the proud owner of a five-minute set that I’m only marginally pooping my pants to voice out loud to people. However, if you know me, please don’t come to the show. Because if it flops and I die on stage, I will really have to move to sunny Mexico.