PREFACE: The following may be of very little interest to those of you who work outside comedy (and probably most of you who work within it)
I’m doing a bit of an experiment, starting tomorrow. After 4 years of pretty much using whatever free time I’ve got outside of parenting, performing, & promoting to write for other comedians (over 14 in the last 2 years alone, thank you!),
I’m going back to basics and putting together a brand new 20 minute set from scratch.
During the last 18 years the process has always been to bring in new ideas/material on the fly, incorporating new chunks in my set as a rolling process, but that always depended on me having time free every day to work on the ideas in my head. As anyone with two pre-school children will tell you, that time evaporates pretty quickly! Trying to make time simply hasn’t worked, so I’ve approached it like I would any writing job: a fixed amount of work of a specific quality in a fixed time.
The plan is; from Thursday 1st to Thurs 8th, I will spend 5 hours a day writing, 3 hours rehearsing, and then go try the material out at a club, recording it as I go. In order to make this possible Lucy has taken the kids away to her family for a week, so I’ve no excuse to not be completely focussed on it. My rule of thumb is you write about 1 minute of good stuff for every hour you work, so conservatively I should get 3 mins of circuit-level material every day. By day 8, that should give me a new 20. That’s the idea, anyway.
Like most established comics, we eventually build up a bed of material that is rock-solid and strong enough to carry you through nearly all situations, but that creates the problem of comfort and security that stops you jettisoning it. It’s going to be tough to knock some bits on the head – and I reckon some things just won’t go quite that easily – but the cold reality is that if you aren’t creating a new Edinburgh / tour show each year material will stagnate, no matter how well you get at selling it. I was hoping having quite a bit in the bag on rotation would stop this, but the internal script pages are starting to yellow.
So if you catch me at any of the following gigs let me know what you thought. And if you thought I was unremittingly terrible, then this is the reason; though again, let me know, because a room full of people not laughing won’t be enough of an indication – ta.
Likewise, if you run a new material night in or around London and can fit me in for an open during this week, I’d love to come do it.
Thu 1st: Backyard
Fri 2nd: Krater at Komedia
Sat 3rd: Krater at Komedia
Sun 4th: Bent Double at Komedia
Mon 5th: Old Rope, Top Secret
Tue 6th: 99 Club
Wed 7th: Top Secret, Comedy Cafe TBC
Thu 8th: Top Secret, Backyard