Why I stopped doing comedy

Jared Hardy realises stand-up isn't everything

I’m nobody. I’m 25 and I’ve been doing comedy for five years, starting in my last year of university. But now I’ve stopped doing the only thing I’ve ever actually wanted to do – besides be a fireman. Here’s why:

Reason 1: I don’t see my girlfriend enough

My girlfriend has recently moved to Brighton (fella can’t take a hint, right guys!?). I live in Somerset and the journey to see her takes a minimum of three and a half hours. The furthest I have ever travelled for a gig was in Preston which took three hours. I have turned down gigs in places like Huddersfield because they are too far away.

Therefore it must be that I fancy my girlfriend pretty hard and more than comedy. She works at a hospital, Dolly Partoning it 9-5. If I want to make money as a stand-up I need to be performing at weekend clubs every weekend.

It’s a familiar story, towards the end of my ‘career’ one stand-up arrived at the gig saying he’d just broken up with his girlfriend citing the same reason; they work during the day, you work at night and weekends and therefore you never see each other. I had a closer relationship with my Swedish pen pal.

‘But Jared, the comedy scene in Brighton is amazing and it’s just down the road from London! Why not move?’

Yes, but all the gigs still run at night. Until they start doing comedy at lunchtime as standard we’re not going to see each other. So, my choice is to either not see her and have money or see her and not have enough money to see her again/do anything.

Reason 2: Audiences are cock-holes

Weekend audiences are getting worse and demanding more. They are significantly more vocal than they used to be (and they used to be wankers). Apart from the general breakdown of society and the relinquishing of decency, in my opinion there are two main reasons for this; austerity and TV.

The televisual comedy boom is in full swing and this, of course, is a good thing. More and more people are watching comedy on TV and therefore, in theory, want to go out and see some live funnies.

The problem is TV is heavily scripted, rehearsed and edited and is (usually) performed by the best people in the business. This means the difference between Dara O Briain delivering a hilarious and supposedly spontaneous bit about Nick Clegg being a spineless twat and Peter Open-Spot is marked.

People who watch TV aren’t idiots but they don’t realise just how much goes on off camera. When they attend Comedy Upstairs at the Piss and Fiddle, they don’t expect to see anyone they recognise, but they still expect a relatively high level of funny.

This in itself shouldn’t be enough to turn a fool into an arse-hole. However, combine this with the lack of money people have these days and foolery easily becomes arse-holery. On average, people who once had money and would go to see live comedy two, sometimes three times a month are perhaps only venturing out once every one or two months. [citation needed].

Diminishing funds combined with inflation explains why this is. This means that now, rather than comedy being a regular event for them, where sometimes it would be a bit shit and sometimes it would be amazing, this is their big night out. If it’s not perfect it’s a massive waste of money. Also, because it’s their big night out, they also get drinking – enabling them to vent their frustrations directly to the comic.

I’m not just talking about Jongleurs and Highlight (notorious cock-hole establishments) but gigs all over the country. The monthly cricket club/theatre/arts centre/room above a pub nights in places slightly removed from city life like Hereford, Evesham or Worcester. These three nights being, respectively: my favourite turned sour, odd and my worst gig. Worcester was the third reason I stopped doing comedy.

Reason 3: Worcester County Cricket Club (incorporating Reasons 4, 5 and 6)

I’ll keep it brief; we’ve all heard worst gig stories. I was the compere, I am 5ft 7in (Reason 4), I wasn’t very funny (see Reason 5) and at the beginning of the first two sections the microphone didn’t work so nobody really paid any attention to me and I didn’t handle it well.

There was one table in particular who really didn’t like me and one man in his 50s, who I decided to banter with, really hated me. We called each other a number of things, him going after me slightly more aggressively, but the ‘banter’ stopped when he made a fart joke and I said that he had a child’s mind.

He took great offence to this and told me to never say that he had a child’s mind ever again (even though he had a child’s mind). Each time I came on and tried to get the atmosphere up with a joke or two he interrupted by calling me a paedophile or a lesbian or simply a twat.

At one point I shouted at him saying that the more he interrupted, the longer I was on stage and I wanted that a lot less than he did. At the end of the night I closed by saying the following while looking directly at the man with a child’s mind ‘Thanks to most of you for coming and I genuinely hope you die in a fire.’

It is the worst thing I have ever said, out loud, to another human being. You may have said worse, I’m not claiming it’s the most abhorrent sentence ever uttered by man but for me, it was. I never want to say anything like that again, I never want to genuinely feel that way about another human again and I don’t want to feel that scared yet open to confrontation again (Reason 6).

I don’t want to be the evil ‘comedian’ that ruined a man’s night which he paid a lot of money to go and see (even if he was a man who had a child’s mind).

Reason 4: I’m too short

More than one promoter has told me that my height and lack of physical presence is a reason why they weren’t going to book me. (This could well just be a cover for Reason 5.)

Reason 5: I’m not funny enough

I’ve always wanted to do stand up, I was always one of the funniest kids at school and I’ve been watching and loving stand up from a very early age. But despite possessing ‘some potential’ (chortle.co.uk) and being quite charming I’m just not good enough.

There are loads of people doing comedy who are a lot better than me and are, deservedly, doing very well.

There are also a mass of people who are just balls. Like proper shit. We can all name our own Top 5 Acts That Don’t Realise They’re Bad and we’ve all played Shit-Act Bingo (a highlight of my life was shouting “House!” during a So You Think You’re Funny? heat). I didn’t want to become one of those people. Neither did I want to waste the best years of my life chasing a dream that I can never accomplish.

Reason 6: I’m already enough of a dick (see above)

I’m scared of the world as it is and I have been affronted enough times without being given licence to banter and insult people who, in any other area of life, would kick the shit in and out of me.

It was one of the unhappiest conversations with my girlfriend I’ve ever had when I decided that I had to stop doing what I called comedy. But, in a bit of a wanky way, since my final gig in August, I have seen my beautiful girlfriend on many occasions, got a job helping kids with learning difficulties and got enough money to go on holiday for the first time since 2007.

I still think comedy is amazing and I go to see as much as I can. I’ve met some amazing people and lifelong friends. It’s just obviously not for me.

Published: 18 Oct 2012

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