Regular readers of this blog might remember that in August I put up a post called ‘DARE’, where I talked about the latest challenge I’d given myself – to perform a stand-up comedy show in a school before the end of the year.
Well I did it!
And it happened almost by accident. Because while I was minding my own business, writing about mermaids and trolls and clumsy unicorns, I got an invitation to be the support act for a brilliant local comedienne – Dubomedy’s Mina Liccione.
I had a bit of a wobble when she explained it was ‘for 500 students and teachers,’ but it was impossible to say no. Not only because this was my challenge, but also because the money raised from ticket sales was going to the Al Jalila ‘Brest Friends’ programme – which offers support for breast cancer patients and funds research into the disease
I got increasingly nervous in the days running up to the show. Friends didn’t help by giving me great advice like, ‘Don’t worry. The worst response you’ll get is indifference,’ or ‘They’re teens. They’ll show their appreciation in mehs and pouts and shoulder shrugs.’
But it couldn’t have been different. The atmosphere in the room was brilliant. This was a completely new thing for the school and part of a week of events to raise awareness of breast cancer, so they were brilliantly cheery and excited.
I went on first, which is usually the toughest spot, but the audience were already beaming up at me, smashing all stereotypes of the grumpy teenager.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified and it probably showed. I’m used to doing comedy to adults, or doing author visits featuring sparkly unicorns to under 12s. So this was an unknown audience and I was never quite sure if the content of my set was too adult (I mentioned willies) or too childish (I mentioned willies). But there were laughs, claps, cheers and no Donald-Trump-esque boos so that was good enough for me.
I even muddled through the bit of my set that’s always a nightmare. For some reason I still can’t explain, I’ve incorporated a Batman impression into my routine despite knowing perfectly well that I am spectacularly bad at impressions.
The first time I did Batman, the audience just stared up at me with confusion and mild pity. So I did that thing all terrible impressionists do when they incorporate the character’s name into the impression – ‘Hello, I’m Batman.’ But people still didn’t look convinced, so I’ve been practicing at home. And just before I left for the show, my son overheard me.
‘Brilliant,’ he said. ‘Are you going to be the Cookie Monster?’
‘Hunh?’ I grunted. ‘You just heard me say, “Hello, I’m Batman”’
He shrugged. ‘The Cookie Monster can dream, can’t he?’
At which point I realised that I was not the comedian in the family . . .. and that it was possibly safest to just wear a Batman mask for that joke.
My bit sped by, and afterwards I just sat and enjoyed Mina’s set with everyone else. She completely smashed it, so as the show ended I basked in her glory and her applause and decided that overall it had been a brilliant, if terrifying, experience – but perhaps not one I’ll be repeating in a hurry!