Give us newbies a chance

A bigger open mic circuit means better comedians, says Struan Logan

It’s my first time, I’m kind of nervous just be gentle please.

I’m using this summer off university to get into stand-up comedy. However as recently stated on these pages, the waiting line for most open mic nights are four months long London, and it’s the same in Scotland.

The suggestion from some who have already taken the plunge into stand-up is that there are too many unfunny new comics wasting space in ‘their’ comedy clubs; and that the glut of wannabe comics means they are setting up open-mic in pubs not associated with comedy.

Why would that be a bad thing? There must be a hundred bars which help new bands for each one that supports new comedians. And. Sadly, most of the comedy clubs do not like the idea of giving a new comic a chance to perform, since they only have limited spaces even for established comics. If more bars gave comics a chance, comics starting out could get more practice and know if they had a shot at stand-up.

The number of ignored emails I have sent round Scotland looking for an opening spot already makes me feel very low on the scale. Thankfully I have finally been given my first chance in Edinburgh, more than 70 miles from where I live. The venue, Rush Bar, isn’t associated with comedy but that doesn’t mean it can’t try it.

The reason for more comics starting out isn’t Britain’s Got Talent. Please don’t patronise new comics by thinking that just because we haven’t been on stage and voiced our opinions doesn’t mean we are sheep grazing on mediocre talent shows.

It is partially because of more stand-up shows such as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, which helps comedians get a real chance – which Michael himself never got. There is also the fear of not doing much with your life.

The biggest reason, though, is the internet which gives great news and information about comics and comedy news, like Chortle, as well as a vast Free library of stand-up material. Without the internet I probably wouldn’t have learned about Bill Hicks for several years which opened my ‘third eye’ and showed that comedy could be much more than just telling jokes.

For many, comedy is a way for people to share their opinion on the way the world is from a different perspective, a way that could inspire others to do better things in life. This used to be the same with music but, sadly, due to the massive amounts of money involved this has become all the rarer. Thankfully comedy still has comedians who have that vision and are able to rise to the top through radio, television or just raw talent.

With the internet raw talent is easier to find and can be given to a vast audience without money being the main goal. However capitalism will probably always find a way to suppress these people and keep us repeating 'Am I bovvered' until we find ourselves a new soulless catchphrase.

If you think I believe I’m going to kick ass on my first performance, I realise I am not. I think the ten-minute routine I have written is good, clever and original – however I know it’ll take time for me to really learn what is funny to me. In Frankie Boyle’s autobiography, he says that most of his initial material was about mutilation and killing. Eventually he became a master of putdowns and gags, but that takes time. If he had listened to some bitching about how his material wasn’t very good when he started out, he probably would have just told the person giving the ‘advice’ to fuck off.

Maybe I’m being naive thinking that most people going into comedy are doing it with good intentions. Maybe all the new comics I meet will be Peter Kay and Lee Evans wannabes who will aim comedy at the lowest common denominator in the quest for more money than they will ever be able to count. If they do spend their stage time complaining about their partners, please will they just dump them and stop wasting my time.

If we’re lucky comedy might come into more bars throughout the UK and give a chance for many more people to dabble into it. We may have to put up with more bad jokes and nervous teenagers, but the end result will be worth it.

And if you’re in Edinburgh on July 7, please come and see my first ever performance at Rush Bar.

Published: 30 Jun 2010

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