I think the second episode of Meaning of Life should be a good one. I've had what feels like ages to prepare and done loads of preview gigs and seem to have come up with a nice mixture of mostly new material (and the stuff that I am reusing is mainly so obscure that you'd have to be a Mastermind on my career to recognise it all). This is in sharp contrast to next month's show, which I have three weeks to write (and one of those weeks I am on holiday), with only four previews and (as yet) no expert to interview. And the one after that I have no previews booked in, but it will be about death so I can probably try out my new material during the tour show. But the fear will get me through.
Also on Sunday we should have an autocue working which will really help me relax into what is already largely familiar material and what promises to be a full house (there are just 60 tickets left - buy yours here for just £10 if you want to join the fun). And my interview guest is the always entertaining Professor Richard Wiseman. Plus you will be first to learn about our complicated badge-based subscription service and have the opportunity to purchase an "I Paid A Pound!" badge (for a pound), which we erroneously hope will help us to fund this project. There will be an opportunity to get these online, though they will be "I Paid a Pound - plus p&p badges and there are also other badges for greater levels of support. All will be explained in due course.
Tonight I did my final preview of material at the excellent Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green and it mostly went well. It was a good audience for trying stuff out as they appreciated stuff that worked, but also were more reserved about some of the bits. Overall it was very encouraging. I am basically trying to compile an Edinburgh show every month and this project makes me realise how possible it is to come up with plenty of material if you push yourself. But as always this blog has proven to be an invaluable resource.
On the way back home I was sitting opposite some students who were making the most of their Thursday night. They each had a bottle of wine and had all managed to slug back about two thirds of the contents of their own vessel by the time I joined them. They were well-spoken and unthreatening, three quite cool looking women and a slightly nerdy guy, but making lots of noise and having lots of fun seemingly without fear that they might be beaten to a pulp by student hating thugs. They could have been annoying, but I found them rather sweet and was glad I did. You can go two ways in middle-age: look back with rose-tinted spectacle and these rose wine drinking buffoons and remember what it was to be young or be bitter and resentful and forget that you were ever that way. Both are equally delusional. I went with the former, feeling the bittersweet tug of nostalgia and wishing I was twenty again (forgetting what a painful time it was an how miserable I generally was). But at least I felt empathy rather than annoyance. The girls were taking a selfie and their slighty unlikely nerdy accomplice asked him why they hadn't asked him to take it. "Because we hate you," joked one of the pretty girls. Ah yes, now I was beginning to remember what it was to be a slightly overkeen, nerdy young man. They were joking, but also they saw him as a harmless little plaything. He was no doubt in love with all of them, but didn't stand a chance. Or am I just projecting here, because that's who I was 26 years ago.
They then handed over their phone and he took their photo and then he surreptitiously took a selfie of his himself which (I am pretty sure) had me in the background. I am equally certain that this was nothing to do with him having recognised me (they were so drunk that they wouldn't have been able to be subtle if they had). He just thought it would be funny to get a selfie of himself and some random greying old man on the tube. He showed the girls the photo, as I continued to pretend not to know what was happening, and they sniggered at the joke. Again I secretly was amused rather than put out by being the object of their youthful ridicule. He then coerced another woman sitting next to him (who he didn't know) to have a selfie with him. His friends apologised for his awful attempts at flirtation, but the stranger was game and pulled a happy face as they took the photo. It's all good fun until you chance across the wrong person. But I liked the fact that their infectious crapulousness was spreading to the more sober people in the carriage. The young man then attempted some rather poor twerking, egged on by his friends, who I feared were enjoying his performance on a different level than was intended. They weren't cruel about it, but they enjoyed the power they had over this enthusiastic little jester (again total projection). One of the girls downed the remains of her wine in one, another refused to do so. Such folly. But somehow warming and charming to witness it happen to a new generation. I wish I had experienced more folly in hindsight.
They got off at Bank. Were they heading home or was this all the prelude to the real fun for the evening? I both wished I was them and thanked the Heavens that I was 46. It's a dichotemy that I am experiencing a lot nowadays, as I accept all vestiges are youth are gone for me now and mourn them, but am simultaneously delighted to have shaken them off. I guess I'd be having a mid-life crisis if I hadn't had about three of those already. I am, for about the first time in my life, actually happy about who I am and what I have. But pangs of regret for not having had that in the past (perhaps) ping through my guts. All we can do is enjoy being the person we are now, so we don't have similar regrets in the future.
And let's face it, that anxious to please nerdy young man is going to have his heart broken (not just that one I sat next to, but the one I was and all the others that are yet to come). This one took a picture of himself with his future self. He probably wouldn't look at that now and think that it all turns out OK in the end.
He laughs at me, I laugh at him. But we're the same.
It all turns out OK in the end.