Video: Gazette reporter takes on stand-up comedy challenge for charity
PUBLISHED: 14:00 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:15 19 November 2014
Thirteen comedy virgins took to the stage in Brick Lane after eight weeks of training from comedy guru
Few things are more satisfying than making people laugh.
But even fewer tasks are more daunting than the thought of doing stand-up comedy for the first time.
So when the opportunity came up to take on an eight-week comedy crash course before performing in front of nearly 200 people for charity – it’s fair to say I was caught in two minds.
Changing Faces, a charity which makes a huge difference to the lives of people with disfigurements, had managed to acquire the services of comedy guru Logan Murray who agreed to teach some novices for a fundraising gig.
My head said no but my heart, and a little bit of my ego, said yes – I’ve always loved making people laugh.
After I read about Logan and learned that he had tutored Rhod Gilbert, one of my favourite comics, I decided it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
When it came to the first session I was expecting complex theories about what makes a great joke. Instead, we were given reassurances that we were all already funny.
“You all make people laugh at parties,” said our new teacher.
You just have to channel your inner “idiot” – which I thought I could do.
Another nugget was “all creativity comes from play”, and play was what we did for the first few weeks – whether it was role play, word games, or having to speak about a random topic for a minute with no preparation.
One game even involved improvising an entire sketch using just the words “no” and “yes”.
And then there was the homework, “write a list of things you’re thankful for”, or “write a letter to someone or something you hate thanking them”.
Equally as surprising to me as the method was the variety amongst my peers.
Our ages spanned about 50 years. Some were in it to try and forge a career, others to improve their confidence, and then there were those who wanted to tick it off the bucket list.
At first the company could be a little intimidating. Within our midst were women in their 50s and 60s who had a wealth of life experience and a wicked sense of humour.
Sonja, for example, oused confidence from the beginning, with cheerful, hilarious insights into “getting old”, while Sue, somewhat of a mother figure within the group, harnessed an extreme version of herself as a bemused shopper in Marks & Spencers.
One wannabe comic, Elisa, 22, from France was taking on the challenge in her second language, which was particularly humbling.
I went from feeling fairly smug to wondering if I could compete with such strong personalities when it came to the big night.
In the end, it was fine, my routine based on Halloween – some of which was taken from my experiences the night before – got plenty of laughs from a friendly audience and we raised nearly £5,000 for the charity.
And while I’ll probably never try comedy again, my five minutes in the spotlight were among the most exhilarating of my life.
If you want to see how some of the other hopefuls got on, go to changingfaces.org.uk/show/feature/FR-Face-Your-Fears-roundup
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