Is this self-indulgent? Yes. 100%. Looking at the title again after finishing this blog, it’s clearly an excuse for me to brag about the fun things I’ve done this year. The only bit you only really need to read is the bit where I look forward to 2023, because I can’t really brag about things I’ve not yet booked in.
2022 was a good year for mucking about in front of an audience. Theatre audiences have seemingly not yet recovered from the COVID pandemic and people are still wary to book a ticket more than a week before the performance date, but the opportunities for getting on stage have grown massively since 2021, at least from where I’m sat. And that’s been really nice! I’ve missed having a fun time with my theatre friends without the constant fear that this will be the last time we can all play together. But what performancey things have I been doing?
14/48 has become a lovely constant in my life, giving me the chance to get on stage and act, something I find myself missing more and more recently. But I’ve also been able to direct a lot this year, starting with the Spring 14/48 Leicester at The Attenborough Arts Centre, and then again in the summer in 14/48 Wolverhampton. I probably shouldn’t have done the Wolves festival given that I’d only just recovered from COVID the day before and was all manner of still broken. But directing was still a lot of fun, despite how much that second day in Wolves absolutely broke me, and it gave me some brilliant 14/48 moments. From the perfect casting and easiest day in my whole time involved, to a mad rehearsal process and watching the show through my fingers as the cast knocked it out the park.
But my favourite moment this year was the surprise I felt when I got the coveted Christer Award at 14/48 Leicester in November, before a festival where I got to be married to Stuart Reid and worship the Sun God while wearing a loincloth. I said at the time that this festival means the world to me, and to be given this perfectly-named trophy was a lovely shock.
I’m really looking forward to the new year of 14/48, seeing the new talent coming in and grabbing the festival by the scruff of the neck and, above all, having fun and meeting new people. It’s a Godsend.
I’d like to act more in 2023, whether in 14/48 or otherwise – maybe I just like being someone else for a bit?
Improv and Stand-up
I’ve bundled these two together because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I like, thank you very much. It’s been a really fun year for everything ‘comedy’ I get to do on stage and I think I’ll start by the fun series of improv things I’ve been allowed to ruin with my presence.
Improv in the Midlands is great. We’ve had the start of a new international improv festival in Nottingham, led by Lloydie James Lloyd, Liam Webber and their team, in the form of the Robin Hood International Improv Festival (RHIIF). Not only did Tiny Stories get the opportunity to perform to a packed interntational crowd of performers and fans, but we were also able to see some of the best, most exciting improv on the planet, from improvised Tennessee Williams plays, brilliant fast quick sketches, and the chance to meet and perform with some of the biggest names in Improv from the USA. It was fun. It was amazing and I’m looking forward to the 2023 edition.
We also started a lovely new improv project called Date Night: An Improvised History of (Nearly) everything, a ridiculous two-hander between myself and the really rather chaotic Hannah Platts. I’d explain the format here, but it seems to be the loosest, jolliest improv show around – almost defying definition. Imagine a sketch show linked together by a loose, historical story that we inevitably get wrong. But since it launched in Spring we’ve had our debut, an hour long show at the Old Joint Stock theatre in Birmingham, had gigs in Nottingham, and found a new home in Leicester Upstairs at the Western where we’ve been gifted a monthly house show! People seem to find it funny, so I won’t correct them.
Back in January, I took part in Jay Neale’s Comedy Workshops with the aim of getting together a few minutes of written material for a change. After 6 weeks I had 5 minutes that I thought was funny and BOOM it was time to do a gig at the Leicester comedy festival.
Now, I’d dabbled in stand-up before when i was 17-18 and was shiiiiiiiit. Not just bad, but so unfunny I was sucking the funniness out from the past. Memories that had previously been a hootriot of giggles were now painted beige and played in my mind to the sound of crickets and polite coughs. But this was suddenly a lot of fun! Whod’ have thought having experienced comic guiding you through the process would teach you a thing or two?
Following that first 5 minute gig I set myself the target of 12 shows during 2022 – a vey low bar compared to some of the other graduates of the course – and, after a very slow start with no gigs between April and June because I am awful at admin, I was so happy when I walked off the stage after my 13th gig at the end of November. I’ve met from really funny people, seen comics that are just amazing, hilarious, and work so hard at their craft to milk every line and word for as much comedy as possible. The people in this industry are some of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and they’ll be doing 4, 5, 6 gigs a week, getting stage time, airing new material, writing every day, and very often all the while doing a full-time job at the same time. They’re inspirational.
Best moment might have been the gig in the kiln up in Swadlincote, where, having had a truly awful gig the day before, I was nervous that I had suddenly lost my funny. But between a mix of chatting to the audience and my scripted bits, it felt so natural and so good, and left feeling 8 feet tall. My favourite moment, different to best, shut up, was a gig in a wacky warehouse, under a slide and next to 2 ballpits. It was so bizarre, I loved it.
My goal for 2023 is more gigs, I’d like to see if I can reach 30 for the calendar year – but this will involve me beating my biggest demon – simple admin tasks.
We’ve been making music. I’m part of a band called Dopamine Crash and we’ve got a gig in early January. I’ve not been in a band since I was 16/17 and cannot wait to get back on stage, drumming behind a group of talented people, noodling around with guitars, keyboards and microphones and the like.
Drumming regularly again has just felt like getting back on a bike – I always forget quite how easy it is to be okay but it’s bloody hard to be anything other than average.
Anyway, come see our gig! Friday, 6 Jan, 19:00 at Duffy’s Bar Ir’s a fundraiser for Leicester LGBT Centre too 🙂