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Rick Wakeman in 30. October 2003 in Somerville, MA

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The CRCCISC posts are a series of tips to help Nick Wallis, breakfast presenter for BBC Surrey, prepare for his first standup gig, at The Komedia, on March 17th. There are more details in this post.

Dear Nick,

The second lesson is even easier than the first. It’s simple: be forgiving. Be understanding. When you look at the world and notice its absurdities and ridiculousness, pause for a minute to try and understand why it might have got itself into such an absurd state, before condemning it out of hand.

Admittedly, condemning things out of hand is funny. Anger is funny. Your frustrations are funny. But they’ll only take you so far. About as far as being Rick Wakeman in an episode of Grumpy Old Men. And no one wants that.

Comedy has enough middle-class white men sneering at a world that doesn’t quiet defer to them in the way they’d like. You’ll get laughs pointing out everyone else’s deficiencies, but you may well lose your soul in the process.

Keep your bitterness, your ire, your condemnation as arrows in your comic quiver; they’re all easy ones to fall back on. Spend a day trying to find the other kinds of comedy in world. Glory in silliness; see humankind’s foibles as symptoms of what we’re trying to get right, rather than evidence of all we get wrong; meet the world with an open and generous heart.

Above all, if you go to meet someone to talk about standup and you find they may have been out at the Chortle Awards until incredibly late, doing unmentionable things to the free bar, and that they’re now in no real state to see their own feet, never mind tutor anyone in comedy, be forgiving. Be understanding. Be quiet.

And maybe bring them some paracetamols.

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Picture of the inside of a Moleskine ruled not...

Image via Wikipedia

The CRCCISC posts are a series of tips to help Nick Wallis, breakfast presenter for BBC Surrey, prepare for his first standup gig, at The Komedia, on March 17th. There are more details in this post.

Dear Nick,

They say that every journey begins with a single step. This is true. Unless you own a car.

You are starting a long journey of self-discovery, one that could one day lead you to the heady heights of a room above a pub in Islington, where hostile strangers will stare at you, and sigh audibly over your punchlines. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. And the last day of the first bit of your life. And the middle day of a section of your life that surrounds this bit.

Your first task is simple: go shopping. Go and buy a notebook and a pen.

Once you have bought them, keep them with you at all times. The style doesn’t matter. Whether you go for a leather-bound Moleskine and a Mont Blanc or a ring-bound pad with a biro is entirely up to you, but, from now on, you must have them to hand whenever anything strikes you as interesting or amusing.

When you’re at work, having them sitting next to you, at home have them next to you. When you go to bed leave them within reach. Take them with you to the loo. Whilst in the loo you might produce some great stuff. You could also write some jokes.

Write down anything that occurs to you as you think of it. Don’t try and remember it later: the best jokes have a habit of disappearing when you try to remember them. At least, that’s what I say happened to mine…

Give your notebook a name. Like ‘Janice’. Learn to love it, hate it, to take it everywhere with you. Use it as a filter to catch the nuggets of interesting stuff that are whizzing through your brain. Have an affair with it No, don’t have an affair with it, because that could end messily and the one thing you don’t want to lose is Janice.

This is the first step on your journey, and, thankfully, it just involves a trip to Rymans (other stationers are available).

Dare to be a hero, Nick. Go and buy a pocket-sized notebook.

Get scribbling.

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