October 02, 2014

Horse 1763 - I'm Not Comedy Material

At the end of one of those somewhat dull meetings where numbers begin to dance around the paper as though they were in some sort of macabre tea-cup ride at a funfair, one of our clients at the end of the meeting asked me "You're pretty funny, have you thought about going into comedy?" to which I politely explained that comedy wasn't for me and that I was best suited to other things,

Of course maybe when I was much much younger, the thought must have crossed my mind at some point and the conclusion which I reached was that it was a totally mad idea.
I don't know if comedy is one of those things which people just sort of happen to fall into or whether or not it is innate but the truth is that I will never be a comedian.

Comedy, including truly bad and unfunny comedy, requires the writer or creator to observe the world, zero in on some aspect of it and highlight this by taking it to the point of caricature or absurdity. Comedy and indeed all humour comes from a few base elements which I think can be squared off into the elements of sarcasm, stupidity, surrealism and some basic character flaw like vanity or some such. Comedy requires the writer or creator to take that observation and reflect it back to people through the audience in some unexpected manner, which they find either amusing of in the case of black humour, discomforting.
The comedian must apply that filer and make the reflection something which the audience is prepared to be amused by; this is where and why, I will never be a comedian.

It has been painfully obvious to me for a very very long time, that I see the world fundamentally differently to most people. Either what most people find amusing I find quite unfunny or vice versa. If what I find funny is different to most people then logically for me to be a comedian would mean that I'd have to start writing material which I find unfunny. Can such a thing be learned?
I think that although I possess the ability to observe the world (at least I hope so - more than 1700 blog posts might prove otherwise), I don't think that that particularly translates into the ability of innate skill to be able to write comedy.

There is also the issue of delivery as well. A good comedian is a bit like the lead singer in a rock band, except there is no rock band and the only instruments are the microphone and the comedian's own voice; to be honest, I have a voice which is nasally and squeaky. Everyone thinks that they sound different when they hear themselves on a recording and I already think that my normal speaking voice is a bit like a depressed starling. It is horrible and certainly not worthy of inflicting upon a crowd who wants to be entertained.
To wit, I excel at the PlayStation video game series Singstar because I can hold a note and reproduce a tone technically quite well, however the colour and timbre of my voice is such that glasses have voluntarily thrown themselves out of sixth-story windows just to escape.

The truly great comedians and actors also either develop or just naturally posses a great stage presence; they seem to fill the stage and space they stand upon. I don't think that I do that very well. I've spoken in public a fair bit over the years and whilst I might be all right at it, it isn't necessarily confidence as much as determination and bravado that gets me over the line. To walk under the proscenium arch and to stand on painted tape is not something I savour. I suspect that there is a grain of truth in the adage that if you speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.

So don't expect me to go into comedy soon; even if you think I'm mildly amusing. There are people in the world who do that; they do it far better than I ever could; the best of them (or the lucky ones) get to stand before an audience of thousands or perhaps go on television (or on BBC Radio 4); I'm just not one of those people.

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