It struck me that although my first stand up gig was earlier this year (March) my first real experience of doing “stand up” in its loosest format was when I was about 10 years old.
I grew up in St Just which is a small town near Lands’ End. As you can probably imagine, there was not a whole lot to do when we were kids unless you liked walking around and looking at fields or farm machinery and stuff. Therefore, the excitement of “St Just Football Club Disco" was unrivalled and quite literally mind blowing. Football club discos were held in the football club (who could’ve guessed!?) The younger girls would generally drink loads of fizzy pop and dance, horrendously, to the likes of Shabba Ranks, Snow, Ace of Base and other utterly abysmal early 90s pop, whilst simultaneously trying to catch the eye of the hotter younger boys (who were more often than not discussing game levels on Sonic or Streets of Rage or doing their best Michael Jackson impressions). The older girls would split their time between smoking Royals that they had managed to get one of the older boys with facial bumfluff to procure for them, and being fingered by some ugly rugby lad(s) in the stands of the football club.
Contrary to popular belief about girls in Cornwall, being 10 meant that I fell into the “younger girls” category and was therefore blissfully unaware of said illegal cigarette procurement, bumfluffed boys or fingering. Instead I was quite happily immersed in dancing to Haddaway and swooning over Daniel Prowse - by far the best Michael Jackson impersonator/dancer of his generation. I remember my friend Natalie’s mum – a notorious alcoholic storming the disco, demanding all the lights be turned on and then slurring very loudly at length at how everyone there was a “TOTAL CU*T” or “F*CKING W*NKER” or some other term that would keep the younger ones amongst us entertained for weeks afterwards as we shouted it across the school dinner hall. Natalie’s mum then turned her attention - albeit a little wobbly, to me. She dragged a stool across to the very middle of the dance floor which was now aghast with 9 and 10 year old kids torn between feeling excited about the fact there was clearly gonna be some shit going down, and disappointed that said shit more than likely meant a prematurely early end to their evening (9.30 instead of 10pm).
Although there was no music playing anymore and the main lights had been switched on, there was still quite a lot of hustle and bustle and lots of chatter. I remember my palms starting to get a bit sweaty as I wondered what in God’s name Natalie’s mum was going to do to me when she turned around and at the top of her voice she said “Do your Jasper Carrott impression! Everyone listen, she’s bloody hilarious!” And with that she pulled me through the crowd of kids, some of whom had now begun knee sliding and/or wrestling, and plonked me on the stool in the middle of the dance floor. I could hear my heart and feel my blood in my ears as I sat, terrified, staring gormlessly at everyone. Now to say that I was a shy kid would be wrong. I wasn’t shy. I loved attention and had always enjoyed singing in the choir and opportunities to do cool drama stuff in school (we did Grease one year – I was the girl who sang “Tell me more, tell me more, like did he have a car!?” a very proud moment for me) but I had never done anything on my own. In front of a crowd: An audience.
What I remember after that is a mixture of fear, excitement and pride as I recited my favourite Jasper Carrott jokes in a broad brummy accent to a small but captivated audience of fellow school mates, stunned parents and a drunk alcoholic. For those interested, I believe the repertoire comprised the classics: “Okk Far Rup”, “He won’t get there any quicker” and “He’s in bed. With his leg”. All classic Carrott gold, in my opinion.
I can’t really remember much after that. I am pretty sure I wasn’t carried out by a cheering mob of fans or offered a contract by any youth performance spotters. In fact, I think that Natalie’s mum was escorted from the football club, the lights were turned off again and the DJ (someone’s dad) played Inner Circle’s romantic hit classic “Sweat”, but what I do remember is that I felt fucking fantastic! I felt like a winner! And I think that right then was when I thought : You know what? I quite like this comedy malarkey…
Only took me 19 years to actually do something about it but hey, better late than never.