Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wednesday 6th April 2011 - The last 6 days: DEATH-KRISHNA-RESTAURANT REVIEW-EPIC FAIL (and Natural History Museum)-MEGADRIVE-SHOWER


I hadn't had the time and the available brain space to blog about the past days, so I will attempt to do so in this big mega-blog. The reason for it is my insane procrastination-schedule. I don't know how I manage. The irony is that this blog was set up to generate material and get me more used to writing. Just like Richard Herring's blog, basically. And since the entire conceit of this blog has always been to basically rip off Richard Herring and his success, I will now plagiarise the day-calling thing that he does to denote the passage of time in AIOTM (aiotm). So this might just be the longest blog I've written so far, but this comes in place of 5 separate ones. You can just come back 5 times and read each day with a fresh cuppa (nice) or read them all in one go. So here we go!

Ehm.. before we start: I'm not sure whether I said this in a previous blog, but I'm highly amused by the search engine results that lead to my blog. One of which is the delightful and terrifying: 'jorick paranoia' which pleases me greatly, but also makes me worried about what the internet might know about my mental health. That was all.

... As I'm typing I hear the sound of an ice cream van driving through the street. Just a slice of life, not much else.

FRIDAY - Death

Yes, Friday! I got an email from work late on Thursday night, asking me whether I'd be interested in doing some work. I'm a very opportunistic human being (hence this blog), so I immediately started work, leaving my brother to hang around Brighton for a couple of hours. Apparently he did so much walking that his feet have been damaged beyond repair.

That night, I had an unannounced gig at the Comedy Cooler in Hove. Had done that night before once in December. I had enjoyed it massively then, even though I had been interrupted by a very drunk lady-heckler. Since then, I feel I have moved on, so I looked forward to doing the night again. My brother and another friend who was also in tow were looking forward to it as well. Both of them hadn't seen my act, so I was going through my lines again, quietly confident that it would be fun. Then the promotor came up to me and asked whether I was interested in opening the night. I said that it would be a good experience, and I'd love to try.

It wasn't that it was a Big mistake, just a very good experience, disguised as humilitation with a large dollop of fuck-up. The crowd clearly weren't going for it as yet, avoiding the compère's questions, not interacting with him at all. The only thing he could do was to talk about that, but they were either too tired and/or not drunk enough to fully engage with what was happening onstage. Comedy is odd like that. It requires so much from an audience that it's perfectly possible that sometimes they just can't summon the energy to inject a sense of occasion into the night. The comics then have to work extra hard to convey that sense of occasion, whilst trying to engage with the audience as well. The intense immediacy of a comedy gig is often the reason nights like this are usually special. Things would be said tonight that no-one would ever hear again, these jokes were especially for this night. I certainly said things I'll never say again.

I went on and started off too slow, trying to engage with the audience who were all smiling and sitting back, having a drink. When I then tried to launch into material, this was not met with any reaction at all. I got frightened. Usually I get either laughs, some laughs, people rolling their eyes or even angry shouty drunks but tonight there was nothing to react against. Now, the bit after my opening starts with '...yeah that's a bit of a weird opening isn't?'. I might have been able to win the crowd back with that, but instead my mind went into self-destruct mode. I started talking about the failure of the gig, about the flickering light of the cashpoint and most of all, my failure to be a proper opening act. I got a few laughs there, but they didn't go for the prepared material, so I apologised and left after the final joke which got a few chuckles here and there. This wasn't proper, but hey, I could only do so much and I spent the next 2 minutes with my head in my hands. I didn't understand why they didn't go for it at all. Then I realised it was because I hit the big red button way too early. Lessons: 1. confidence. 2. I'm not yet good enough to open in Hove. 3. I will be good enough to open in Hove one day.

During the break, outside (after, genuinely, the fire alarm had gone off. That would have been funny if I had set the room alight, which I hadn't. It was all OK in the end, someone had set fire to a paper napkin by accident. This was quickly dealt with) I spoke to my brother and my friends who felt sorry for me, but also never wanted to see me again, quite rightly. Of course not, they were very understanding. The most awkward person in the world then came up to us and started saying awkward things about a plethora of subjects. She told us about New Zealand and embarked on some mind-bending tangents so mind-bending that I can't actually remember any of them. That's how much my mind was blown. The rest of the night was very much brilliant, I have to say. In the end, my fragile ego did survive the night, since during the second interval, a slightly enebriated man came up to me to say that I would have been fantastic in front of 20.000 people instead of 30, which brings me to the conclusion that the secret of comedy is in fact the large scale structural abuse of alcohol.

It was good to die, in a way. My average is still very high (2 deaths in about 45 gigs) and it strangely enough gave me quite an intense rush, afterwards. I had died, but I was still walking. Lived to die another day. I love stand-up, even though it didn't love me tonight. Ah well, never mind.

SATURDAY - Krishna

Me and my brother made our way to Camden Town, North London in the afternoon en route to the famed Camden market. I was very tired, having slept very little during the night. But I had never been to this huge gathering of hipsters and other misfits around Camden Lock. We had quite a complicated tube trip to get to our destination. The Northern line between Charing Cross and and Mornington Crescent was closed, so we ended up spending half an hour getting on and off tube trains. This is, however, very educational about how people in this strange but friendly city actually live. My brother just wanted to get to Camden market though.

When we got out of the station, we were struck with how ridiculously busy it actually was. So many hipsters in one street! I've often felt uncool, so I had a thing in me which told me to cower in the presence of so much cool, but I frankly was too tired to really engage with my ego. I needed all my energy to basically keep standing and not getting my brother in too much trouble.

It was actually immense. I didn't think there would be so many shops selling that many different kinds of black clothes, similar vintage shirts and self-regarding t-shirts. But even though I did change into a 58-year old man (a bit) I was impressed by how busy it was and how a clearly niche endeavour could succesfully operate because of mainly word of mouth and becoming a tourist destination. In a way, exporting cool to the rest of Europe (there were loads of foreigners, like us, shopping to take home 'cool'). My brother, however, did not go there to buy into what is supposedly 'cool', but bought some things he searched out back in Holland, over the internet. But we did do loads of walking again. My brother remarked he could now drink whatever he wanted tonight, since he'd burned so many calories or he would die of malnutrition. If this isn't funny, that's because of my crap phrasing in translation. He is clearly the funny one in the family.

When we got ready to leave, my brother was stopped in the street by a Hare Krishna. He couldn't escape him as the man and his orange robes blocked his way. When books and flyers came out of a pragmatically hidden satchel (in the folds of the robe; handy!) I walked up to my brother, took his arm, said 'No thank you!' and walked off. Then something odd happened. Before I managed to get my brother out of the orange aura of the man, something odd happened. He said; '...and also you with the pretty blonde hair'.

Yup. Yours truly just got hit on by a Hare Krishna.

As you say here on your internet: omg.

No-one has ever said I had pretty blonde hair. I'm not familiar with people (even feigning) to be attracted to me. This is not a cry for help, it is just very odd. I can't relate to it, I've just never been a particularly attractive person. But over the last couple of weeks, more people have commented on me having either a good-looking FB profile picture or (hilariously) having sex appeal. That was in quite a cool fb-chat I had about comedians being physically attractive. This more general topic is one I will revisit in following blogs, since this one is clearly about me, not considering myself attractive in any way. Again, no helplines please. Either I've been willfully deaf for compliments (which with my fragile comedian's ego, I cannot believe) or I've never had many. For a reason, I thought. I have never conceived of myself to be attractive to the opposite sex, or the same sex, for that matter. The Hare Krishna here was male, but I can't believe he was being sarcastic. You just can't have both a sincere belief about the universe that moves you to tell the world about how wrong it is, AND be sarky on the side. Nope, one or the other. As you are well aware, I clearly belong to the sarcastic side.

To come back to the reason I've never been found attractive before the last few weeks, maybe the Hare Krishna guy did, in fact, change my life. And therefore, he clearly wins. Shit.

My brother and I got home, had food, watched Black Books and I fell asleep when he went into the night on his own. I was too tired to speak near the end of the evening. But it had been a good day.

SUNDAY - Restaurant review

Very tired today, both of us. We weren't much use to anyone, let alone ourselves. We went to campus, where I showed my brother were I went to school. He liked it, though wasn't overly impressed. Which is fair enough, I suppose. Although one funny thing did happen, when in the library, a girl who had seen me do stand-up at the Rose Hill Tavern recognised me and said she thought I was really funny. She may have mistaken me for Adam Smith, but that is not the point.

Annoyingly tired, we both decided just to go home after some highly impressive food (at Pompoko's. I now demand a full payment and/or a free series of meals after this write-up) and drinks in a nice pub in the lanes for Black Books and sleeping. We were halfway through the last episode of series 2 when he fell asleep. I only found out that he had near the end of the episode, when he told me he was going to bed. How's that for familial telepathy? Indeed, not much.

MONDAY - Epic fail (and Natural History Museum)

When going out for breakfast this morning, I found I had lost my wallet. Yes. Oh indeedio. By now we are well aware of how the process works (which is repeated here: ). I couldn't find it, wherever I looked. It just wasn't there. My entire sanity broke down to the repeated ringing of two words in my brain: WHERE and WHY. That was annoying. Apart from all of my important papers my wallet also contained my rail card, which in turn contained a return ticket to Glasgow. Yes. Not good. I really needed it.

When turning the house upside down, my brother was on facebook. A friend of mine was trying to speak to me, but 'I' didn't answer. I took a break to answer her message and explain. When I spoke to her about my current predicament she laughed, said: 'I have it' and added a few Muhahaha's for good measure.
Ten minutes of despair later I had sunk so low I thought it was sensible to actually call her and ask whether that joke that she had just made was genuinely a joke. What? Just eliminating possibilities! She rightly laughed in my face. We then had to retrace our steps from the last night, asking a shop keeper whether she'd seen anything (she hadn't) or Pompoko (they hadn't). On the way into town, I was talking to my admirably stoic brother but mainly to myself, trying to eliminate impossibilities. It could only be in the place where I'd left it last time (does this sound familiar? It should: ), in the small pub in the lanes where I'd last had it in my hands. After a gruelling search through the faintly confusing small streets, we found the pub where we had been the day before. The girl behind the counter immediately recognised me and handed me the wallet. Everything was in it, luckily, apart from the rail card with the ticket. Still, good average, more than pleased with the results. But still, to lose something so important again and having to rely on the goodness of people's hearts to pick up the pieces (my brother said they wouldn't have kept it safe in Holland. He is right) is shameful. I am crap at life.

After a calming cup of tea, we went to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, London. This is one of my favourite places on earth, partly because it looks like Hogwarts but mainly because there's so much things inside it that fascinates me. It makes me turn into an 11 year old boy. But also an educational Kids' TV presenter, constantly restraining myself not to tell everyone in a 5 mile radius about how awesome the natural world is. I had been there in January 2010, wasting time before a very important gig (first stand-up gig since doing it for the first time at Edinburgh 2009) when it had dazzled me. Today, I could show someone else how cool it was. Luckily, he shut me up pretty soon. We took loads of pictures and had a brilliant couple of hours. In the Mammal-section, a sign on a wall taught children how to speak Dolphin (apparently it's closing your mouth, holding your nose tight with your fingers, blowing and squeaking). That was pretty cool. I also saw the geology section, that I hadn't seen last year. You reach it by way of an escalator, traversing along walls of constellations and through the inside of the earth which happens to be made of copper plating and crêpe paper. Ah well, they can't all be brilliant. There was a bit where you were inside a supermarket in Kobe, Japan, during the '95 earthquake. Scary and intense, certainly now.

After closing time (Oh yeah, we stayed till closing time, biatches! Whoohoo! Aren't we cool? In a museum...? No? OK), we went to Islington. Islington is nice, but not appropriate for anyone with a medium sized spending average on food and drinks, so we ended up in a Burger King. Not that much of a problem, really (although now, days later, my skin has rebelled and I had to get rid of some pustules on my face). The reason we went to Islington was to see a comedy night called Not Now, Bernard. It's about children's stories and several comics, including a sketch group (Casual Violence), an improv group (Fat Kitten) and a musical double act (Horse and Louis) and the brilliant Danielle Ward (I've seen her a couple of times, in Brighton and in Edinburgh, always incredibly funny) - were allowed to tell a children's story in any way they wanted. That meant that unless the comedy circuit takes quite an odd turn, they'd never be able to do that material again. This made for quite a special night. Casual Violence Redux were very good as a twosome, after seeing their full show some weeks ago they still surprised me with their very black and very funny, distinctive look at the world. Which, if we're going freudian, should have been the product of a far more disturbed mind than James Hamilton actually is. Doesn't matter though. They're great. Go and see 'em.

After 90 mins of entertainment in a full and by necessity not very well-ventilated room, we went off to congratulate the acts with their work and, later, got on the train to Brighton. Please go and see Not, Now Bernard. It's eminently cool, nostalgic and highly entertaining (how's that for a quote?).

After we arrived home, my gaze fell upon the cupboard next to my bed, where I had left the railcard with the ticket in it. The sight evoked a vague memory of specifically leaving it there on Sunday morning, so it would be safe.

I am genuinely crap at life.

TUESDAY - Megadrive

For his final hours in England, my brother had the idea of having a proper English breakfast in a café. Which we did, and it was just lovely. The only thing that really happened was my lapse in speech and thinking when a waitress came up to me with coffee, taking our orders. She spoke with a beautiful Irish accent, which caught me by surprise. I was er-ing for maybe half a nanosecond, but enough for my brother to notice when she had left.

When I saw him off on a train to the airport, I walked back to a busstop to get home. I had wanted to go to a pub and read a book, but I frankly was a bit miserable and wanted to be back home. It's funny how quickly you get used to having someone around you. When they're gone, you notice it all the more.
Luckily, I was invited to have a drink with some friends at Sussex I hadn't seen for a few weeks, which was genuinely lovely. As well it should be, since it was my round*. On my friends' advice, I watched Louis Theroux's new documentary on iPlayer. I'm not saying anything. It's amazing, go and watch it.

* Joke. I'm not that much of a shit. Honest. (I am, really) Shut up

I was at home, bored, so i did what I had been putting off for months, and wrote all the things I'd been putting in my phone as loose non-blog ideas into my computer. It's not much fun copying your own words but it does free up the mind, usually, for more creative ideas. Unfortunately, I didn't feel very creative afterwards this time. Mainly very tired.

Feeling quite lonely and miserable at 1 AM I went to that last resort of internet-based entertainment single males of my age use to stave off that great thumping ocean of loneliness in their depraved little souls: Retro videogames.

Didn't think I'd say that, did you? No, you didn't, that's cos I'm clever, you see? I played some old Megadrive games online. It's fine, legally. It's all discontinued, apparently* so you can. I played Astérix (big fan) and Mickey and Donald's Magical Kingdom. You know, the one where they've got magic capes and use flying carpets and stuff? ... Is this thing on?

* How neurotic would you have to be to check if what you're downloading is actually legal? A bit like me, I think.


I was awoken by the ringing of the doorbell. It was some builders, who had been sent to fix the shower. They've broken out the old one, but have yet to return to rebuild the shower. I thought they'd only get here after I'd left for Glasgow tomorrow, so I will smell like a dead rabbit on the train tomorrow. Ah well, at least I'll get a seat.

So I'm going up to Glasgow this weekend! Yay! I'll be there from tomorrow till Monday. If anyone knows of any open spots at Glasgow gigs the coming days, please let me know. I'd love to play Glasgow. I was at the Edinburgh Fringe last year (as I have been since 2009 and hope to return to all subsequent festivals) and I stayed in a hostel some way out of the centre of Edinburgh. It was 3 in the morning and I'd just done a gig, so I was tired, as well as the only one waiting for the hostel's minibus to drive me to my temporary home. The driver, whose minivan bore the Scottish flag on every available square inch, started chatting to me, as one does in a car in the middle of the night. As we got to a very remote part of the route, he asked me where I was from. I answered that I was Dutch, to which he replied 'Oh! Really? I love Holland! Oh, you're all great man!' And he quickly steered away from the woods, in the direction of the hostel whilst I taught him some Dutch*. Only later did I realise how close my escape had been. So I would advise all the English: just tell 'em you're Dutch. Worked for me!**

* apparently it's a form of politeness.
** if that offends you, you're right to be offended because this is offensive. Deal with that!

Apart from that I spent most of my day writing this ridiculous and overlong blog at home, overlooking the street. The weather's great. It's almost a pity that I'll be spending this gorgeous weekend so far North.* I also read Nicholas Royle's 'The Uncanny' and Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' because I'm a freak and don't deserve real friends. Or so the monsters in the library said. Library monsters are fun. Mostly built up of old out-of-print 1980s thrillers and Dan Brown novels, they are scary but can be easily defeated through the power of imagination. Not even that much imagination, just more than Dan Brown has. Yeah, beat that Brown! With your millions! And your private army of assassins and...

* According to the BBC It will be a bit cooler the next few days, and on Sunday there will be heavy rain.

So, in short: 6 days, 6 blogs. Nearly four thousand words. That's enough for you to be getting on with, I suppose? Huh? Don't look at me like that. I know you love it. Now go away! I'm too busy packing. See you next time! Bye!

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