As I write, an eventful week in Dubai comes to a close with one final gig this evening. I say eventful but for all the wrong reasons.
Uneventful might be a better description given that our events in Abu Dhabi were cancelled as the world goes in to Corona shut down and an odd atmosphere descends on us all. As though we are all protagonists in an Armageddon movie with countries closed, flights suspended and normality suspended. So we hunker down, hope and keep an eye on what our media serves up for us.
I am being factitiously by saying trusty – because of course this crisis is manna from heaven for journalists – in a media world now where clicks are the currency and where’s it at.
So this virus then – which is less virulent than the common flu is referred to as a ‘killer’ virus. Accurate in so far as people have succumb and this is sad of course but in fewer numbers than the people who are overwhelmed by the common flu.
But this fact is not salacious – almost boring in fact and so is largely unreported. Instead, we scoop up what is served to us; images of empty airports, shopping centres and various over-run hospitals.
The damage of the corona virus is all too real. It is genuinely a catastrophe – for the economy and the social damage it is wreaking.
Many people will contract and overcome the virus – but few people will be immune to its costs.
Restaurants will close. Jobs will be lost. People without savings will be exposed. Anxiety will be high.
Media outlets meanwhile are basking in the limelight and no doubt, enjoying their bonanza. Never underestimate the ego of the broadcast journalist – they like to depict their role as noble and intrepid but too often, they are as seduced by fame and spotlight as the most craven contestants on the modern reality shows. And medics too are not so different – clamouring to get on our screens too.
Comedians are hopelessly exposed. Sole traders and with no security whatsoever – many will be even more fretful and nervous than normal – as gigs cancel across the world.
Online, I notice that Brian Regan – one of the world’s best stand-ups – has cancelled a string of shows in Florida. Certainly, a loss for the people booked to see him, because the kind of laughter that Brian can create is better than most medicines. in your bunkers, I advise you get off the news websites and google Brian Regan – you can thank me later.
Talk of major sporting events being played without fans – hard to consider such ramifications… café owners within the vicinity of stadia, programme printers, sellers, pubs, coach drivers, stewards or even cancelled altogether…
And as I write – news that The English Premiere League is cancelled until 4th April – hitting the pockets too of our elite football players – who I suspect won’t be able to count on much sympathy from us mere mortals.
And news also just in (it’s hard to keep up) news that the Melbourne Comedy Festival has cancelled and suddenly I see a chink of light. A possible upside – although schadenfreude is never very edifying.
I have friends who will be devastated at this news, having laid out for the costs of performing at this vaunted festival and now without any prospects of ticket revenue they had been expecting not to mention having diaries that are now threadbare.
I feel very sad for these acts – and especially so because I wonder if we will look back on this whole experience and consider what an overreaction it attracted.
But what of this upside that I mentioned…
In Edinburgh in 2017 – when I was performing my show, Eclipsed – the people from the Melbourne Comedy Festival came to my show. An opportunity for me perhaps, having never been to Australia and who knows, maybe my stuff will go over well there…
Not that I hung on their decision for days afterwards. I’m not prone to comedic arrogance but the least I expected was their interest and even a straight invitation would not have surprised me.
But their response did surprise me, though and indeed, shook me to my core.
Really. Too old, to be funny?
Last night on stage in Dubai – only for half an hour – but a great time for me and for the audience – I had ten years on one act and twenty years on the other act before me – and while I might be a little heavier and less hairy than them, I am sure than no one in the audience was thinking, ‘this guy on stage is funny. He’s making me laugh but its laughs that are ruined by his age.’
An upside then that the bookers of The Melbourne Comedy Festival are now in a complete tiz – albeit not an upside I am terribly proud of.
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