No job for a family guy

Jon Kudlick decides comedy's a singleton's game

After almost four years of doing stand-up, I’m just about to do my last gig. I have a severe case of writers’ block, and not enough energy to book gigs, let alone turn up to do them. Basically, stand-up is not compatible with being married and having a family to support. And the vast majority of the comics I’ve met on the professional circuit are divorced or single.

This makes perfect sense. If you’re gigging across the country most nights, and especially most weekends, this is going to have an impact on any long-term relationship. One comic told me that his wife had become so used to going to parties and dinner parties alone, that she ended up forgetting she was attached. He was now happily divorced.

Another comic told me that he hadn’t expected so many women approaching him after gigs, and just wasn’t use to that sort of attention. He was now happily divorced.

I’ve heard many similar tales, all told with bitter undertones. And understandably so, because the career they’d chosen, and the career they love, wasn’t compatible with sustaining a relationship.

I love doing stand-up but I’m not ready to be bitter just yet. And I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss, of course, getting the laughs; the feeling of ‘why the hell am I doing this to myself’ just before I go on stage; the thrill of a new joke going down well; getting paid, finally; and seeing some great acts for free.

And of course there have been some terrible gigs - the worst, dying on stage in front of 200 fellow Jews, most of whom were over 80, and my mum being there to witness my 20 minutes of shame.

I’ve travelled for hours to get to a gig that’s either been cancelled or has attracted one audience member who’s been drinking all day... as well as some shocking MCs – you all know who I mean.

But I’ve also had some nice ones - playing to 1,400 people at the Hackney Empire, open spots at the Comedy Store, many gigs at Downstairs at the Kings Head, Saturday night’s Monkey Business and the Soho Comedy club. I managed to get to Edinburgh one year to do a few gigs over two days – not my own show for the whole month, admittedly, but I got a taste.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how friendly and supportive the ‘circuit’ is – everyone wants to do well on the night, and everyone wants the other acts to do well. Though isn’t there a peculiar thrill to having to follow someone who’s just died? I’ve met so many cool and talented people, and I’ve been going long enough to have witnessed people starting out and who are now on TV. So I’d like to raise a Chortle toast to all of you who are still doing it, and still loving it.

To be honest, I have no idea how long I’m going to give this up, but I have a feeling that I will be back at some point in the future. I just need to write some new material. And find a decent divorce lawyer.

Published: 18 May 2011

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