Crocodiles, Cowboys, and Pilots

I had agreed to help out with the Comedy 4 Kids workshop this morning at the Soho Theatre, which meant an earlier start than usual. I used to be great at mornings, back in them days of old where I pretended to do a proper job and everything. Back then I would wake up at 7am, make a cup of tea and be skipping along the way to my place of employment feeling like I had seen the beginning of the day. Admittedly once I had reached my dull day job all the energy would be sucked out me immediately and I would become a lifeless wreck who spent more time on facebook than anything important. The latter aspect has not changed one bit. Sadly the ability to cope with mornings has. This is partly to do with having a time table that means I don’t finish working till 11 at night and then don’t end up home till the wee hours (those are the early hours, not the hours I wee in). Its also party to do with not having to get up. If I don’t have to, then I am very happy to stay in bed, one of my favourite places to be. Beds are underrated. You can do a lot in a bed. You can eat in it, sleep in it, shag in it, jump on it, watch TV from it, read in it and create a den with it. If you know of any more uses for a bed, please let me know. I might write one of those shit posters that says ’10 Ways Why a Bed is Better than a…’ and will fill in the blanks with various ‘hilarious’ items such as ‘women’, ‘men’, ‘bears’ and ‘cellos’. Then students will buy them at the thousands to put up in their dorm rooms until they get old enough to realise it doesn’t make them individual and instead just makes them a loser with no sense of humour.

So feeling a tad groggy I walked into the workshop today to be greeted by the sight of 15-20 kids all shouting at each other. One was dressed as a cowboy, one as a pilot, one waving a giant inflatable crocodile and several others swinging random items such as a furry puppet and fishing net. It hurt my brain. I took a deep breath and walked straight out again, got a cup of water and braced myself before heading back in. The kids that do stand-up workshops are tiny versions of adult stand-ups. By that I mean they have massive egos and seem to be a bit socially incompetent. In a nice way. One of them, who was a bit of a genius, looked scarily like Warwick Davies. I tried to think of a way I could get them to re-enact Willow but I though the parents might get suspicious if one child goes home telling them the teacher wanted him to be ‘Val Kilmer’. The Warwick boy’s name was Oscar and I asked him if he got handed out at film awards ceremonies, but this just confused him.

The workshop was good. I learnt the hard way that if you get a group of three kids to improvise a situation that has been given them by the audience, they will completely ignore the situation and run around how they please. After that, there were no more impro games. I also learnt that by getting them to talk about what’s in the room, without explaining you need to make it funny, they will just point out exactly what’s there. We didn’t play any more ‘point out what’s in the room’ games after that. I then worked with the three boys who would be doing sets at the show. I went through all their sets with them and told them which bits were strong and which bits could be expanded. They went on stage at the show and just did what they liked. After that I decided I am not very good at doing workshops for kids.

The show itself was really fun. All three kids did really well, as did Richard Sandling with his mind-tricks for kids, and Brendan Dempsey’s awesome dinosaur impressions. I did make one further mistake of the day when I asked the audience who had unusual pets and a little girl said she had a snail. I asked her if she actually had it as a pet or it was in the garden. She replied with garden so I told her it wasn’t a pet, it just lived in the garden. It was only then I found out that she had named it Gerald and made it a box. I felt a bit like I had crushed her hope of having pets. I told her it was in fact a pet, which then stupidly lead to loads of other kids telling me they had flies and bees and millipedes. I will never learn.

Heading back to lovely (sic) Coventry tonight, to do a gig in a cinema. I’ve done it before and its an odd experience due to the acoustics and the fact its IN A CINEMA. I’m still weighing up whether or not to start with some trailers and if I should get some popcorn to throw at the crowd. This is what happens when you do Comedy 4 Kids before you have to do an adult gig.

‘Hey!’ you might say, ‘Don’t leave it there! What about last night’s gig? If we recall it was at a football club in the home counties, there must be something to write about?’ Well no, there isn’t. Despite all possibilities that it was going to be hell in a Buckinghamshire based sports shack it was truly delightful. I wouldn’t ever use a term like that but little else could describe it. They were an incredibly nice audience. So nice and comedy savvy in fact that when Mike Belgrave, who was MCing asked them if Chesham was a chavvy area they said a collective ‘Yes’. He said ‘But it doesn’t seem chavvy?’ and they all seemed confused, at which point Mike said ‘I live in Peckham’. There was the best collective knowing ‘ah’ I have ever heard. They also cottoned on to some classical music gags from Mike and Helen Arney, including someone in the crowd shouting ‘Orff’ as a heckle. Amazing. I had a really really nice set and got home in 45 minutes. Dull isn’t it? Such a shame for you readers when it all goes a bit lovely. I liked it, but I know that’s selfish so I will try my best to have a miserable time this evening to indulge your schadenfreude. Which incidentally isn’t when the famous psychiatrist steps out of the sunshine. Boom, I made a funny. With gags like that its highly likely tonight will be terrible.