Brendon Burns: Why I've taken up DIY

Releasing a DVD yourself is the way forward

There’s a lot of griping going on right now that comedy’s becoming too mainstream – but the honest truth is there’s never been a better time to be a niche guy. You just have to be willing to do the work yourself.

 

Today I release my latest ‘DVD’ as a direct download for £4. I’m bypassing the usual labels and going direct to fans, the model Louis CK pioneered so successfully.

 

Like him, I was hands-on with every part of the process and unlike my other DVDs I haven’t had to censor a thing.  It was shot the way I wanted it and I don’t have to try to shop it out to a TV channel. I can gain access to an audience my way.

 

With PIAS as my distributor I’m in really great company. They approached me last year and then when the Louis CK thing came along we realised we could do the whole thing ourselves. The exec producer credit they gave me isn’t just one of vanity. The trust they’ve given me in making this just the way I wanted has been staggering.

It also came to my attention that way more people were downloading my stuff illegally than those guys that are shifting millions of DVD units, so as with the Louis CK model I’m just going to trust that people understand that I’m an independent guy and that maybe my trust in people’s better nature and desire to find something different is worth £4. 

Also, the traditional route to a DVD release doesn’t suit me. I don’t want to join the plethora of guys my age suddenly spouting what they’re not because frankly that reeks of comic adolescence. But I don’t do panel shows. Nor do panel shows particularly want me.  I’m not particularly good in that environment or on TV in general, I tend to get over-excited, adrenaline kicks in and I rush and yell and come off sounding a bit oafish. There are guys who are brilliant in little concise soundbites and there’s certainly a rather tedious trend nowadays to look down one’s nose at any type of comedy you can’t do and declare, ‘Oh I don’t do panel’, ‘I don’t do jokes” I don’t do observational’ and so on and so on.

But that stems from a very apparent insecurity. A more honest comic would admit, ‘I can’t do X’ not ‘I won’t do X’. (Albeit out of a lack of a certain skill or just simply for the sake of one’s own happiness)

I’m far more interested in ideas and I need way more stage time to explore them than I’d ever get on TV. It takes a while to get into me and the way my brain works. Plus I have quite an annoying voice and some folks just can’t get past such audible cosmetics.

So with this new model of releasing my stuff, I don’t need TV. In fact I don’t really need the industry for anything anymore. Nor does anyone.

There need be no more meetings with execs who are under the impression that I somehow need to make them fans of mine. Now I’m my own executive producer, along with some guys that really get what I’m trying to do. I can’t speak for anyone else but anytime I’ve tried to fit anyone else’s mould I’ve been miserable, which is why I’m so ecstatic about this wonderful new venture. I can’t recommend it enough to other comics

The show itself doesn’t really fit anywhere but here either. It’s about how after a  break-up I tried to find my place in the world and restore my faith in... something. Whether that be science, God, metaphysics, love, or whatever. I’m not a religious guy but I’m certainly not an atheist either. And yet sometimes it feels a lot like both parties would have you pigeon-holed as one or the other. Almost as if nothing else can possibly be processed and there seems to be very little breathing room. This show is an attempt to stretch that breathing room. An attempt to eliminate the hard and fast definitions of what we all believe so that we might neatly be categorised.  And, as I discovered, not everyone feels particularly comfortable with that idea, least of all me. 

It’s a completely uncensored piece of work but not just in the fake modern ‘edgy’ bullshit you see everywhere. It seems that you make a couple of rape and paedophile gags and point out the Bible ain’t real and ‘Bam!’ suddenly you’re edgy.

But (and excuse the double negative here) that’s not actually not censoring oneself ­and frankly gives we ‘dirty’ comics a bad name (sic) You look at guys like  Doug Stanhope, Jim Jefferies, Louie CK or Glenn Wool or so many others and those guys have a voice and a soul. Over an hour they tend to reveal their softer sides too. Nothing sends me from a room faster than a comic trying to be morally righteous about everything but in equal measure a guy trying to be consistently morally bankrupt can be just as dull, repetitious and disingenuous. 

So I also hope this show puts a final stamp on the ‘angry’ label I’ve been lugging around for years. I get angry, sure,  but that’s because I’m an emotional guy. I get it that anger is the easiest emotion to recognise and journalists need to simplify things but I’ve always denounced it anytime I’m asked.

I think to not expose all my emotions is flat-out self censorship. Which is why I laugh whenever I see some young kid going: ‘Oooh I’m so dark and brooding and edgy’ I know for a fact they're just trying to not expose themselves too much for fear of being hurt.

So maybe I should send this show out with a warning like: ‘May contain profane graphic imagery and moments of heartfelt earnestness.’

Dear God I’m not selling this thing right am I?

Look. Just download it will you? It’s only£ 4 and I guarantee there’s nothing else like it out there. 

  • Brendon Burns: God And Love And Metaphysics And Shit is available to download here.

Published: 23 Jul 2012

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