Sometimes its very easy to get disheartened with comedy and the world in general. Yesterday was one of those days that fully reaffirmed my faith in both. The Block The Bill, Block The Bridge demonstration yesterday, as organised by UK Uncut was a lovely sunny afternoon of very civil disobedience and one of the nicest afternoons I’ve had in 2011. Thousands of people turned up to show just how much they care about the most important institution in the UK, the NHS, and as Big Ben struck 1, it was an incredible sight to see the bridge amass with people playing dead. There was music, brilliant artwork, interesting people and I got to meet Chris Morris which nearly sent me into babbling mess. Despite a police presence there was no trouble at all, and the whole event, if nothing else, should show that we can stand-up to the misdemeanours of our government without fear of kettling or violence from the authorities. This shows we can do this again, and again and more and more people can join as is our right to be outspoken about the outcome of our country.
I was there as part of Comedy Block, a show to be performed on the bridge as part of the event. Initially it was to start at 1.30pm but due to a lack of sound system it seemed as though all proceedings would have to be called off, until around 3pm a bicycle powered sound system was discovered. With a variety of lovely volunteers pedalling away (the sound disappearing every time they slowed down or swapped) we finally kicked off and 8 acts, with Chris Coltrane hosting, performed for what was about 800-900 happy protestors. Going on first, and nervous about material I’d written that morning about Andrew Lansley, the show was a dream. Sure we were preaching to the converted – no one at that gig was going to heckle when we were all there for the same reasons – but the rush of performing as part of something that meant something was incredible.
I’d been feeling a tad lost since Edinburgh. After performing an hour show everyday that was based on my personal despair at this country’s current situation, to then suddenly go back to the clubs where political material isn’t what the stag and hen do’s want on a Friday after work, is a bit disheartening. Yet you can’t stop doing those gigs as they pay. I had found myself feeling a bit fed up with it all. Then yesterday changed that and fully made me realise why comedy is brilliant. Performing in front of such an amazing crowd, saying jokes that had a point of view behind them, and purpose and then watching acts such as Josie Long, Mark Thomas, Nat Tapley and more do the same, really made me realise what you can do as a performer. I realise that the high horse might well be back again for me to climb on board, but having the confidence and ability to write jokes that will both make people laugh and maybe encourage them to do more is one of the best feelings in the world. Just having a reason to be part of something that may (and I sadly don’t think it will) make a difference to the bill on Tuesday makes it feel like its worth it.
I’m not saying you have to do stand-up to make a difference. Everyone there yesterday did it in their own way. Some made banners, some brought instruments, some were just there, and believe me, that’s enough. The protest made its way onto most news outlets (BBC being the slowest and nearest to making derogatory remarks as per usual), which meant people know there is opposition to the bill. That’s all we need to do. Let everyone, especially parliament know we aren’t happy with the destruction of the NHS – something Cameron promised he wouldn’t let happen and once again lied. If you care, then next time remember that there are never ‘enough people going already’. Just rock up, have a great afternoon watching comedy and do so knowing that you are helping change the UK.
Lastly, I met someone on the bridge yesterday that was explaining that as the bill is likely to go through, the best we can hope for is that the Lords let it be examined by a special commission. This would mean it isn’t just sent back to the Commons unchanged, but nor are the most destructive parts just overlooked. We only have a day to make any difference so I will post her email, pretty much word for word, below. Please take note and if nothing else, take two minutes out to email a Lord with your requests. Yes it looks like a lot of info but have a read and then you can make it all easier by choosing which Lord to email by using this site:
Here’s the emails:
And email two: