I am celebrating 5 years of doing comedy on ‘the circuit’!

It seems like most people that ‘breakthrough’ to TV and radio have done at least 10 years prior to this of working on their craft. “Overnight-success-Micky-Flanagan” certainly did…so perhaps I am halfway through a 10-year apprenticeship in comedy?!

That means I will be fifty years old by the time I “graduate”, but what better time to launch a new career than half way through your life!!*

It’s interesting at what I like to think of as my halfway mark, to reflect on what I have learned in those 5 years and as seems befitting – here are the top 5.

  1. You really do have to master the craft

It sounds obvious but it’s true – you have to master it and continually hone it. I can be hilariously funny at a family dinner only to find that same punchline does a kamikaze nosedive in front of an audience in a comedy club.

They say that to become a master – someone truly great at anything – you have to complete 10,000 hours of practice. TEN THOUSAND!!! Imagine those 10,000 hours spent screwing up a small mountain of rejected scripts, or having that killer joke which you felt just couldn’t fail you feel like it has killed you instead – as an unimpressed audience stares blankly back at you. It really is like going to the gym once and expecting that you will awaken with the body of Aphrodite or Adonis. You have to keep at it to build that comedy muscle. Read this blog I wrote about the agony of being struck by writer’s block

  1. Do keep your eye out for other opportunities

Maybe around writing or performing? I have found my on-stage time – either acting (pure hobby nowadays) or speaking (my day job) – has developed my work as a comedian and vice versa – so, in other words, any time in front of an audience is great. Putting pen to paper to work through what I am going to deliver as an MC helps the process of being a writer and writing comedy makes me a better speaker. Look out for these opportunities – they are powerful!

  1. Don’t be surprised (or put off) when your nearest and dearest look like they are going to faint when you tell them your plan to be a comedian!

This speaks for itself! I guess you can understand it – their plans for you to rise to the top and make a name for yourself in your field most likely never had a caveat that the field would be comedy or that you would be challenging Victoria Wood for top position! You must however keep the dream alive because otherwise you will work in a job you hate and not fulfil your potential and then what’s the point??!

  1. Ignore the critics!

They will come and they will comment – but remember:

  • Most criticism doesn’t come from a bad place – listen gracefully – apply and move on.

  • You cannot possibly act on everyone’s advice – choose one maybe two mentors who get you and what you are looking to achieve but also challenge you to improve – and zone out the others.

  • If the criticism is that your act is too mainstream or too extreme – tricky one but I would say tailor your act to the particular audience – as long as it doesn’t challenge too much who you are.

  1. Have fun along the way!

It’s vital that you look like you are enjoying yourself in life, if you want others to join you, so fake it ‘till you make it, if needs be, but at least look like you are having fun!

* If I live to one hundred…well, I am determined to get my telegram from the Queen!