God I am such a precious cunt. Nothing gets my goat as much as listening to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about but then everyone has to start somewhere. What I’m afraid of is a threat to my ego, and this usually comes about when someone who says they have no authority on a subject starts talking about the thing they’ve just admitted they know nothing about. It’s called an open discussion and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the way new ideas are born. What is my problem? I like to listen dumbly to someone spouting nonsense and then internalise it as a quiet anger then verbalise it as something crass like, ‘I think I know what you mean’ or ‘I hear where you’re coming from’. But I don’t follow that statement up with ‘… however I think you’re wrong because of this and this and that’, probably because I don’t have the self-belief in what I have to say either. So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place just mulling things internally that never get let out and then the person probably thinks I agree with them. Fuck them.
Take the example of a teacher telling the stand-up that a great place to start is from ANGER. Think of something that makes you angry and then go from there, because that will probably make the tale a funny one. So if I were to apply that to myself I would go from the “morning commute”. The morning commute I had to do day in and day out made me angry. So instantly we are set on a tube or train. Ok so that’s relevant and observational, good start. Why did it make me angry? Because my brain couldn’t fathom a good enough reason for why we had to suffer the commute, nor could it comprehend why everyone also blindly followed the routine of getting on a packed train just as I started to wake up. The first conscious sensation I had to have every day of the week was ‘sod this’. Why would you inflict that on yourself? We could start a little later, or stagger the commute time to ease overcrowding, rather than queue up for rammed train after train to get to a destination no one was particularly keen to get to. Did it feel good to get in on time? Nowhere near good enough to erase from the memory the hell of the commute. So, I guess that stuff made me angry. It’s not that funny, not in my eyes. Perhaps I’m not going far enough with it. Or maybe, I didn’t find the actual situation that anger-inducing. Or, it could be that the advice of the teacher to start from anger isn’t a great one unless you’re good a venting anger in a funny or ridiculous way.
I’m prone to finding the ridiculous funny. But these things jump out at you rather than stem from within, and maybe that’s why it’s harder to draw from. We were walking up the hill that leads from my front door to the train station and I heard this crackling sound - lots of crackling sounds actually that were like nothing familiar. ‘What’s that noise?’ and when we stood there stationary and listened to it for a while I pointed up at the tree and said ‘oh my god.’ There were a hundred green parakeets all in one place pecking at the fruit (?) of a tree and their hundred stupid beaks were making the noise. Green parakeets in London. All in one tree. And it’s fucking freezing out here and the lime green made them look like giant caterpillars and there was an inexplicable expression across our faces as we watched these little monsters eat their way through our deciduous foliage. If they’d flown over from somewhere warmer like France or the Caribbean why hadn’t they flapped back? It makes me anxious that birds that have evolved to be this bright in colour (and so should feel innately out of place in dreary England) would continue to stay here longer than the time required for a bird to realise they’d made a mistake. An error of judgement. ‘Oh, you know we have these internal magnetic compasses built in to our brain’, ‘Yeah the one we rely on to make the right migration path across huge distances - what about them?’ ‘Mine isn’t working.’ ‘Neither is mine’ ‘Not a thing’. ‘So where are we?’ ‘Not sure, who cares let’s find a tree to eat.’ And then I’d shout up at the tree and say something unhelpful like, ‘But it’s bloody freezing! Aren’t you cold?’ and they’d all nod violently and carry on pecking. I’d say one last warning like ‘You’ll die if you stay here too long’ and then one of the peckers will speak up and say, ‘So will everyone’.
My funny comes from paranoia or fear or anxiety, but hardly ever anger. The trite stuff comes from anger. The comedians who raise their voices and say ‘fuck’ a lot in their material to hone in a point - no darling that’s just a lazy way to keep our attention.
I say this yet the best piece of stand-up I’ve seen is based around anger, though one rooted in human injustice and it was hi-lar-ious. Totally funny. It was about slavery.