At the funny coal face…

The way that live comedy has developed – gigs are on-line nowadays for comics to fight over in public – putting their name down and hoping – and often for gigs which pay less than they did 20 years ago…

My favourite alert of late was – “Ipswich – on-stage 8.50. 20 minutes. £80. Ideally, an act who can drive the other acts back to London”.


As such, comics of a certain age (vintage) and fame (deficiency) will most likely have an eye out for supplementary incomes.

Green Room discussions remain heavy on how box ticking out-trumps being actually funny when it comes to getting on the telly – and as such a new dressing room subject is what other income sources are available to make up any comedy shortfall?

When I stared out in the 90’s – a frequent question was – ‘are you a professional yet?’ In other words, ‘have you been able to give up the day job?’

Nowadays – the question is in reverse…

What else do you do?

This question is never nice to hear – especially if it comes after your set – but it is not meant to hurt. More just a reality that live comedy is only really a long term living for those comedians who appear on telly – and therefore can tour their own shows.

For sure, comedians have always done other things, like writing. We’ve all written a sit-com. I’ve flogged the odd screenplay in the past and I still turn out a new novel every so often. And we all ‘act’ of course, or blag more likely. The odd advert or voice-over – always so very welcome.

But it’s now extra jobs with a more urgent nature that comics find themselves doing…

Ambulance drivers, artists, teachers, mentors, carpenters, motivational speakers, speech coaches… and I imagine there are other jobs as well which acts are less forthcoming about.

Gigging with Gary Colman the other night – I had it in my head that he is a doctor.

An admission here… I’ve never been very keen on doctors in comedy which is odd given that Harry Hill is one of my oldest comedy mates. Perhaps it’s my green monster and these clever doctor comics are too damn successful? Or that they’re trained at such great expense to care for people and then they set about not doing any bloody caring. Or worse, the doctors who want to do their doctoring on the bloody telly. Not many things as grating as a celebrity doctor, surely?

Credit to Gary though – because as well as doing his gigs – he still practises as a GP – and in what line of medicine, I asked him the other night…

Palliative care…

‘Oh, right’, I replied, chastened.

‘For the homeless.’ He added.

Fully winded now. Game over.

Worth pausing here – while we all take this on board…

Gary’s day job – is providing end of life medical care for homeless people.

Any of us with a more worthy pursuit than this?

And one which puts in to perspective the hurt that we might feel when we see someone on Live at the Apollo who we last saw live, getting stared at.

Perspective people – it’s all about perspective.


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