On-stage at Edinburgh this year, I was happy to see an old mate in the audience called Joel Sanders. He used to run a comedy club in Ruislip and is responsible for one of the hardest gigs that I have ever done.
At the time, Joel was an English teacher and I was an up-and-coming global comedy star. Joel is no longer a teacher and I am no longer…
On BBC1’s The Stand-Up Show, I did a 10 minute routine on my school experience – and after the programme aired, Joel phoned me up in an excited state because he had showed a recording to his English class. The boys had loved it and Joel suggested that I take his next class as a surprise guest teacher!
I was dubious, not least because it was a 9am class on the other side of London but I agreed and made the long drive to bask in the warmth and admiration of a bunch of 16 year olds. It will be worth it just to see their jaws slacken when I walk in to the room?
Er… if they were impressed or admiring then they hid it brilliantly and instead displayed utter and complete indifference. What I had prepared to talk about, I burn’t through almost immediately. Dry mouthed and out of ideas, I opened the class to the floor and invited questions…
None came. Not one and so I continued to flounder like a fish on a river bank gasping for air.
I am reminded of this story because on the radio today, is the news of teachers leaving the profession; to coincide with the start of the new academic year.
I have first hand experience of teaching and so I have some empathy with teachers and their anguish. In comedic parlance, I died on my arse.
Stand-Up comedy is not easy and is even described as the hardest job in the world and so I should know a tough job when I try one.
And as for Joel – whatever happened to him after his teaching stint?
He gave up teaching to do what?
To become a stand-up comedian of course.
How telling is that?