On Friday, backstage at a show, I again had the conversation I’ve had a lot, with comedians. That one about what you’d do if you had to go back to a normal job. And again I pointed out that I just wouldn’t cope with a 9 to 5. The same room everyday, the same people, the same dull work that I’d have to do. It definitely would be dull work because my CV has now been bereft of extra entries for seven years since I went full time with self employment. I still have it on my computer of course, just incase the comedy circuit implodes even further and someone out there desperately needs a desk clerk with vague experience of Office 2007. Chances are though, I wouldn’t get the job in the first place and it’d probably be for the best considering my now current work ethics. Sure I work with other people, on a bill. Sometimes I have a tech person I have to work with or a promoter or agent or venue manager. But mostly, I work with just me. For me. Only having to run my work past myself for approval and generally – not all the time – I like what I do.
This is a terrible flaw to have. Jotting down a script for a short film I’m trying to write this weekend I realised just how stubborn I am. The director gave me some feedback that some bits needed to be changed that would alter the narrative structure. She will be directing, it was good feedback that needs to be done to make things work for her. Once I’ve finished the script it’s in her hands and I have no creative input over it anymore. Yet something in me closed up in stubbornness at the suggestion that I had to change my vision of the script. I hadn’t realised just how unreasonable that way of thinking is until this weekend. That instant revulsion at someone else tampering with my work.
I have always had a habit of getting others to read my work, asking for advice and tips especially with areas I’m not confident in. But they’ve never been people who had the final say in what I was creating. Well except for a TV project once that was taken and rearranged to become a pale shadow of what it once was and instead something I had no longer any interest in. Luckily that fell through and said project is now on another executive’s desk, more in it’s original image, waiting to be rejected anyway. Apart from that, I read people’s tips, take the ones I like, ignore the ones I don’t and make sure it’s still mine. My work, my idea, hands off everyone else. This has backfired before when I hastily responded to an email from a writer I didn’t know all that well, explaining why his (much more experienced) suggestions for my writing were wrong, justifying why I’d done them like that. He was, of course, less than impressed at giving up his time for free just for me to be ungrateful about it. In the long run, his advice was also entirely correct and I was just being, again, a stubborn idiot.
The problem is, in stand-up, I know what I want to say, I get onstage, say it. If the audience don’t laugh, I amend it till it’s still how I want to say it, but you know, funnier. Hopefully. It’s what makes stand-up interesting, that it’s a sole point of view, a personal account. It’s precious to that person. But films, TV, and other media are a group effort. The writer, the director, the producer, the cast, the company that backs it. Unable to just jump into the writer’s head and rummage about for the exact same vision, everyone involved will imagine it as something else until it’s realised. This has, of course, lead to some truly shit cinematic experiences where the idea has been tampered with beyond recognition. It’s also lead to some true works of art where concession had made place for a perfect vision. It might seem like it’s more the former than the latter but I’d argue it’s just because those failures stick the brain more.
I often imagine what I’d be like in a real job now. I picture how nice it’d be to get paid holidays or sick pay, but then it clouds over with the drudgery of the early mornings and time spent doing work I’d have no interest in. I get on my high horse and pretend that it wouldn’t be for me, but in reality, I don’t think I’d be right for it either. I’d do the Excel spreadsheets how I wanted to. I’d enter reports filled with quips as I’d assume it’d be better with humour and less exposition. Meetings would be ruined by me ‘trying new stuff’ out. Either I’d be fired within days or that company would crumble to the ground in weeks as I wondered on which bit I’d lost my audience on. So let’s just hope that comedy world doesn’t implode anytime soon yeah?
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