We can't all be honest in our comedy | Julian Lee says some topics are too difficult to address

We can't all be honest in our comedy

Julian Lee says some topics are too difficult to address

On Chortle yesterday, Sophie Willan, a stand-up very much on the up, said that honesty in comedy is essential.  She is open about the fact her mother was a heroin addict and that she spent a lot of her childhood in care.  I admire her for this and it seems to have created a strong foundation for the Fringe show that is currently getting rave reviews.

I am a recovering compulsive gambler. My last bet was  March 24, 2013, and my comedy is totally impersonal, a series of one-liners, ranging from well-crafted intelligent jokes to plain daft gags.  

My question is, how can I write personal material without trivialising or making fun of those that I hurt through my utterly selfish addiction?  As a creative artist is it my responsibility to open up my wounds and use them in performance, ignoring the concrete footprints this will leave all over my loved ones?  

Do I have a duty to bleed truth for my comedy?  Will the revelations earn me the connection with my audience that possibly my one-liners have so far failed to do so?  Am I even ready yet, more than three years down the line, to be that fuckin’ honest?  

Admittedly, that’s more than one question, but I hope you see the obstacles that I see ahead of me.  

And let’s be honest, gambling is seen as a little less ‘addiction cool’ than their drinking and drug-taking brothers.  There are some that can’t relate to the addiction at all due to the lack of a physical connection.  I spent the late 80s as a piss head, the 90s taking too many pills and the early snorties as, well the pun should be self-explanatory.  I have a deep, deep well of source material so why have I not tapped into it?  

Or, more to the point, do I need to find more than the dozen quality jokes I have now and push on and be proud of being a one-liner comic? 

• Julian Lee is  not performing at the Fringe but can be found on Twitter @JulianLeeComedy

Published: 13 Aug 2016

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