Am I this desperate to make people laugh?

Felicity Ward on the fear of her first Edinburgh

Imagine a tiny, bug-eyed chihuahua, terrified, shaking, standing at the end of a pier as a tsunami approaches. Now give that chihuahua Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That is how I feel about coming to Edinburgh... although reviews are mixed.

After speaking to one comic, I'm convinced the experience will be nought but heel-clicking, lemon curd sandwiches, and tickling contests as we laugh and casually perform an hour of our splendid show, which will only be received with standing ovations and petal throwing and sold-out audiences.

After speaking to another comic I am assured that some shonky alley antics will have to take place in order to persuade even two people a night to my show. And then I'll still be refunding their money at the disappointing climax as I overhear them murmur to each other ‘Well, at least I got a free wristy.’

So somewhere between the Wizard of Oz and Requiem for a Dream should cover it then, eh?

Why do I do it? Why am I scrimping and saving, to then spend an entire day on a plane only to have my currency cloven in twain (too much Tolkien)? Why will I spend day and night whoring myself on the Royal Mile distributing hand bills and my dwindling concept of hope to strangers who despise me, nay, are indifferent to me? Am I that desperate to make people laugh? Maybe. Don’t tell anyone.

I only started stand-up just over a year ago and deep end be thy name. Rather than taking the normal route of ‘due diligence’, working for years in open-mic rooms, honing my skills and material, I thought living in a perpetual state of anxiety and unachievable aspiration (which turns out is befriended by recurring thoughts of suicide) would be more productive and so set about writing an hour-long show after having been on a stage, by myself, with a microphone, doing stand-up... twice. Good move idiot!

Turns out it wasn't the stupidest idea of I've had, but more so I love it. If I was at a high-school dance party and stand-up comedy told me I have dicknose and sewer rat teeth, I'd still have a mad crush on him. (Side note: stand-up comedy personified, in this story, is based on a real person.)

I still make lots of mistakes all the time (I'm coming to Edinburgh) but I've made some good discoveries. For example; honesty seems to work in my favour.

I used to be embarrassed that I wore a grinding plate to bed, that I am prone to ring worm or that I called people from Hong Kong ‘Hongkonese’ until I was 22. Now I get as much of that shit off my chest as possible because most people like to laugh at someone more unfortunate than themselves. And I've had 28 years to get used to it so none of it shocks me anymore.

Of course I needed someone to tell me I could have hired Martin Lawrence DVDs after spending £75 on his dick-eating repertoire. Of course my friend's conservative, elderly father met me for the first time standing in front of our fridge which had the word ‘COCKSPANK’ emblazoned across it. Of course my mother's name is Trevalyn.

It's all par for the course in the world of Felicity Ward, but apparently other people haven't had the same life experiences that I have.

So I’m definitely excited about coming over, it’s just on which side of the fence it falls: the ‘giddy child in the lead-up to a rollercoaster’ kind of excited or the ‘sitting under the dinner table with a shotgun in my hand and a saucepan on my head’ kind of excited. Only time will tell I suppose…

  • Felicity Ward’s Ugly As A Child Variety Show is on at the Gilded Balloon, 21:15.

Published: 5 Aug 2009

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