A bit of a battle to come up with some material for tonight's Meaning of Life preview at the Tabard in Chiswick, but by taking something old, something new, something borrowed (from myself) and everything blue I cobbled together about 30 minutes of stuff (and then did some of the routines that might be in the Lord of the Dance Settee). It was actually quite reassuring and the bits went down well with the small audience. Perhaps leaving it til the last minute is the true spirit of my internet shows. I do, at last, have a bit of time to do some work this week (though was just offered a new paid writing job today, which I think I have to do, thus adding to my workload) so hope I can make some progress on both Meaning of Life and Rasputin. When not feeling overwhelmed by the workload I am very excited about all that I have to do and tonight really helped me overcome the jitters, even if quite a bit of the material has been salvaged from elsewhere.
But I will be trying to use this blog as a place to try out material, so if you are one of those people who resents things cropping up on more than one medium and want to save yourself for the proper show, then stop reading now. As Stewart Lee said to me the other week, if I am not allowed to use stuff from blogs as material in my stand-up shows and newspaper articles then it's a bit like saying I can't write about anything that has occurred to me as a thought. I know that others of you enjoy seeing the evolution of a routine or idea from this first seed to the final flourishing plant of a routine, to the rotting dead carcass once it's sucked all the nutrients from the soil and outlived its welcome. So you have to decide which kind of idiot you are, the entitled buffoon or the obsessive nerd or somewhere in between and then limit yourself (or not) to my stuff as applicable. I am happy to cater for you all, but as you all want different things some of the responsibility falls to you.
One of the new bits involved the seven deadly sins. My opening joke, "I am very proud to say that I have never committed any of the seven deadly sins" did not work at all. Maybe because people don't know them all off by heart. Or maybe because it's not funny.
I have quite a few problems with the seven deadly sins, which are wrath, greed, sloth, lust, envy, gluttony and pride - that's the fucking joke. I was proud about not having done any deadly sins, but pride is one of them. Oh fuck you, you motherfuckers. Now I've done wrath too. Maybe I should try and make this into a joke where I commit all seven of them pretty much at once. Which might be all kinds of fun. Oh yeah, I've totally got how to do that joke now. See how helpful this blog is, you entitled idiots? Oh you've gone (I know you haven't, it's like you want to be annoyed by seeing the jokes twice, like you're getting off on it, perverts!).
My main issue with the seven deadly sins is that it doesn't set any kind of limits. All those seven things have to be experienced at some level by all human beings. We all have to eat and sleep for starters, but the sin list does not proscribe what is an acceptable or unacceptable level before we have sinned. I would suggest some kind of graph based on height with a calorific allowance for greed and just a maximum sleep allowable before you've become slothful (probably 8 hours, but maybe making some nod towards jet lag or illness). Similarly we need to work out the point where annoyance becomes wrath. Surely it's still important that as humans we have some reaction to external forces. If nothing moves us at all then we're getting dangerously close to sloth. So we're surely allowed to be aggrieved or upset or disgusted by something. Without a sliding scale or callibration method then the word wrath is meaningless. Is it when you raise your voice too much? But how much? And don't some people seethe with anger or go really calm, but are still exhibiting wrath. We need some way to quantify it.
Similarly presumably some level of sexual arousal is necessary if we want to propogate the species, at least enough to get an erection and the requisite moisture to allow penetration, so when does it reach lustful levels? At the moment it's completely open to the individual to decide if what they're doing is overly lustful or just normal sexual interest. It's a meaningless word without an explanation.
We all need a certain amount of stuff, so maybe the list could provide an inventory of the things we're allowed to own before we're considered greedy.
And you must have some level of self-worth in order to get up in the morning. A man with no sense of pride would again be in danger of defaulting to sloth (depending on how many hours in bed makes you slothful). How much self-worth are we allowed to have and surely self-hatred is as big a crime as self-love. A list of seven words with no indication of scale is thus meaningless.
And in any case all these things are what make us human. To make people feel guilty for eating or wanting to have sex or sleeping or feeling cocky about themselves is only ever going to lead to problems. In fact, whilst we should be encouraging people not to be entirely selfish, I would argue that trying to make people feel shame for perfectly naturaly instincts is possibly where most of the world's problems come from. Why do people sleep around, because they are insecure and worthless? Why do people try and accrue all the money? Because they have been made to feel small by others and are trying to compensate. Why do people overeat? Because their sense of pride has been deflate, so they are trying to inflate themselves. If you tell them that they're sinning on top of all this then you're going to send them spiralling towards mental illness and then what you get is North Korea.
I think the really deadly sins are the ones that we have absolute control over, the little selfish things that we do for no reason, that rub each other up the wrong way. And these annoyances then escalate out of control. I think without the tiny annoyances we might never get to war or proper crimes against humanity.
So here are my proposed new seven deadly sins:
1) stopping suddenly at the top of stairs in a public place
2) playing music in public without using your headphones
3) middle lane hogging on the motorway
4) disobeying the lane rules and arrows at the swimming pool
5) eating crisps too loudly if you are over 7
7) Using a public hairdryer to dry your genitals.
If you break any of those then you're doomed for all eternity.