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Tuesday 3rd December 2013

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British Comedy Awards Nomination Day always depresses me a little bit. Partly because of what it says about the state of British Comedy and partly because of what it says about the state of my career. My standing and reputation within the TV part of my industry is clearly delineated by the fact that I have not even been invited to the ceremony since 1992 (when On the Hour was nominated). Whilst I understand that the whole thing is pretty much a crock of shit (that's the awards ceremony, not my career, just in case there was any misunderstanding) it still smarts when another year has gone by and I have not even done anything that might be of consideration. It's not about even wanting to get an award, just about how much time has passed and how many projects have either been ignored or strangled at birth in the 21 years that have passed since the early 90s when I was full of hope and ambition. I came close to being amongst those self-perpetuating anointed few, but was cast away from the citadel (maybe because in 1992 I ended up very drunk with my own blood on my dress shirt). It's made me a much better comedian and person to have been ejected, but it still made me feel a bit adrift and depressed for a few hours today as I put my career in this context. I am better suited to being on the outside in the cold with my nose pressed against the glass, laughing at these self-congratulatory and bloated idiots, but I am human and thus a little stung by the realisation that I am either an under-appreciated genius or just ultimately not quite good enough. So as happy as I am with this odd little niche that I have carved myself, something like this can give me a little knock that makes me question the worth of everything I have done. Some days I feel like a comedy pioneer making my own way on an exciting new continent of possibilities and sometimes I feel like a hasbeen neverwas forced to make his own shoddy content because no one else is interested.

How annoying that I allow this irrelevant bauble to even get to me at all. I know it is of no worth. But the comedian's ego is a fragile thing protected by a shiny layer of tin and awards shows and reviewers are the tin openers that can make all the self-pitying bile spew out into the world. It's also, of course, enough to make me realise what is really important in my life and to not end up like an unsuccessful version of Kenneth Williams, bitter and unconnected from real life, envying the perceived success of others. Which is part of the reason that today I had one of my increasingly rare days of thinking about giving it all in or at least stop working so hard and enjoying more time with my wife and/or my cats, devoting any spare time to good works like a modern-day and better Jesus. But the threats that I make to myself are empty. I love comedy too much to stop. And though I trade on my failures it's hard not to accept that I am a pretty successful failure. I have am amazing wife, I have control over my work, I make a nice living, I have dedicated supporters of my work, I get paid to write the scripts that I write, even if they rarely get on to TV and even if they did get on TV the British Comedy Awards people still wouldn't be interested in them.  I might have been one of them, but I am not. And I have had a lucky escape.

The awards used to be much more about comedy in general than they are now. There was once a stand up award and a radio award, but those are not televisual enough and it's interesting from the nominations for Best Male and Female Comic that only one person (Sarah Millican) is being considered because of her own comedy show, the others are mainly from panel shows, with one doing a stand up slot on Live at the Apollo and one for people presenting a show about cakes. This speaks much more about the state of British TV comedy than about the nominees (who are all very funny people). Comedians are now presenters and personalities and very few of them get their own comedy show. It seems a shame (if we have to have a comedy awards) that it does not celebrate the wide range of comedy on offer in this country and that TV comedy is starting to feel like a seperate continent away from the rest of us. But maybe we should turn that to our advantage and have different rules over here.

I was annoyed about other things other than this today though, but more annoyed with myself for getting annoyed. But we're all allowed our day of self-indulgence. And given that I never get invited to the British Comedy Awards I have to create my own one.

And my mild depression and solipsism was completely blown away tonight when I went to see a really fabulous play at the Bush Theatre called "Jumpers For Goalposts". It's so rare to see a play that is genuinely funny, rather than theatrically "ha ha, look at me getting that reference" funny, but this one had me properly guffawing. And it's heart-warming, sweet, brilliantly written, perfectly cast with terrific "unknown" actors (again quite a rarity to see something that hasn't been turned into an ill-fitting vehicle for someone off the telly). When I wrote plays, back in the day, I wanted to do stuff about real people that didn't need shock or disaster or angst and that would make the audience laugh and think. I wish I could have come up with something as good as this, which does all those things. It's about love, failure and friendship and it's properly heart-warming. It's also about being gay. And uniquely it's not about confident, cool, drug-taking hedonistic lifestyle that usually gets covered by drama. It's about nerdy, insecure and fallable, finding their place in the world. It doesn't dodge more serious aspects of gay culture, but tackles them with subtlety and humour and without worthy preachiness.  It's a celebration of love and humanity. It's a first love story that just happens to be between two men and coming in the week where the country took the news that Tom Daley is in a relationship wiht a man, in a mature and supportive way (mostly), it gives proper hope that things are getting better. It's really good and I am sure that the writer, Tom Wells, will go on to bigger things (I'd be amazed if this play is not made into a film), so go and see this now if you can. It turned me from grumpy to happy. It would be a proper Snow White and the Seven Dwarves transformation but i didn't make me sneezy, sleepy or a doctor. A bit dopey and bashful though.

For those of you with Netflix, my 2011 show "What Is Love, Anyway?" has just been added to the service. You can also watch "The Headmaster's Son" on there. If these prove popular in viewing figures and ratings then there's every chance that other stand up shows might make it on to Netflix too. So spread the word to anyone you think might be interested. And if you're not a member then you can sign up for a month for free, watch them and then fuck off again. Or you can of course buy the DVDs (along with the extras that you don't get on Netflix) for all my shows (apart from Hitler Moustache which has sold out) at gofasterstripe.com.



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