Okay, this is painful to admit, but here it goes…
I used to be… get this… “A Serious Performance Artist.”
Yeah, it’s true. I’d write stuff about despair and mortality… oh, and blood. For some reason I always going on about blood. (Probably because lots of other depressing words rhyme with it.)
One night after a show, a booking agent came backstage and introduced himself.
We got to talking and I asked him if he’d be interested in representing me.
He burst out laughing and said, “Absolutely not.”
When I asked why, he told me that he only booked comedians and that the only reason he was here this evening was as a favour to a friend.
I asked him what he thought of performance art and got a frank and unhesitant response, “I pretty much hate it,” he smilingly informed me.
It was kind of feeling like this conversation was nearing its end (and not a moment too soon) when he weighed in on my performance. “I thought what you just did up on stage was pretentious. It was also depressing.”
I know I was starting to feel kind of depressed myself.
An awkward silence hung there until he filled it in with, “Although there was one funny part you did, I liked that one bit. But the rest of it really was awful.”
I stood there smiling politely and thinking of ways to graciously end things when he asked me where the washroom was. (Turned out this was the whole reason he was backstage in the first place.)
I pointed him in its direction and he thanked me. Then, just before leaving me to bask in our conversation, he added, “You know, it’s easy to remind people that life is difficult. What’s hard is making them laugh.”
I had wondered about trying some stand-up and sketch comedy but the thought of getting up in front of people and trying to make them laugh… well, that terrified me.
So I decided to give it a try…
About a month later I had replaced performance pieces such as “Monster In A Business Suit” with “How To Tell If Your Pants Are On Fire” (I know, I know…hey, I was just starting).
Since then I’ve written and performed stand-up and sketch comedy across North America and the UK. After the “performance bug” subsided I cut my teeth in television. I’ve written television shows that are currently airing on PBS, Disney XD, TVO, and CBC.
Oh, and speaking of, I used to provide on air humour social commentary for CBC television news. Until I got replaced by a tree. True story. Call me and I’ll tell you about it.