I was wrong about adverts

David Jesudason changes his tune – after becoming a broke comic himself

Vitriol. Bitterness. Anger. As a journalist I’ve always struggled to with these three emotions. They colour my words, take me away from my original point and, worst of all, make me sound like a douchebag.

Then I became a stand-up and these ‘qualities’ finally got a more appropriate medium and helped me gain laughs. Lucky me, as I’m not a douchebag really.

Stand-up has changed my world view. I thought comedy was a narrow category for Bill Hicks-style comics to rail against society’s evils. Two years ago I wrote a piece for this website slating Mark Watson for compromising his integrity by appearing on Magners ads – an article Liam Mullone brought up in his own Correspondence piece this weekend.

I wrote that a couple of months before I did stand-up for the first time. What I was ignorant of then was the point Mullone so eloquently made: ‘Art does not get made, or seen, or realised, without money’.

Because after two years of comedy on the open mic circuit I’m fulfilled creatively (at last) but realise I’ve got years of financial uncertainty ahead. A few weeks ago I was paid £30 for a gig. That’s a million dollars in comedy payouts to someone like me. The gig, however, was in a shisha bar and it was so smoky and I got ill, lost a week’s journalism work, which was worth considerably more than £30.

I have a semi-final of a comedy competition on Sunday. I need gigs to practise so I’m sharp. I may have to borrow money to pay for petrol for this. I’d hitchhike to gigs if my partner wasn’t so adverse to this. Maybe that’s the dystopian future. A trip up the M1 will feature hordes of penniless open mic comics throwing themselves in front of cars demanding lifts as there’s a club in Lutterworth that’s offering 20-minute spots.

Now if I was to be offered an advert? Well I’ve softened. Don’t expect me to be the face of BAE Systems but if an alcohol brand wanted me as a frontman … it would be tempting.

Published: 22 Nov 2011

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