A Show For Christmas

A Show For ChristmasIn the winter of 1998 I was in my early twenties, living alone in London, and just beginning to get paid work as a comedian. I had spent, maybe a year, performing for food, evading train fares and surviving largely on the kindness of my parents. So, to me, for a while the Christmas party season seemed absolutely incredible. Come December, the bigger comedy clubs in London (block booked by office parties and charging maybe three times the usual admission) would pay comedians double the customary weekend rate and the gigs - drunken, messy, giddyingly lucrative - ran all week for the entire month - sometimes twice a night. At that time, my then agent booked what was a rowdy, demanding club in Shoreditch and I found myself fast tracked with unwarranted velocity to the role of compere. I could not believe my luck - back then, twenty two years old, desperate to get better, stage time was all I wanted, and this particular type of stage time - high status crowd control, the management of rowdy rooms rammed with volatile, conflicting energy and the intermittent dodging of cracker toys, thrown by an office manager - felt like an utterly exhilarating place to be. I felt like I was being toughened by it, like I was getting harder and faster and better and that somehow, something important was being forged in that cold fire of drunken disinterest. And maybe it was. I don’t know. But over time, over years, I found it harder and harder to find glory in the battle. I took less and less pleasure in the collective drunken lunacy, the parade of paper hats, the bulk bought crackers and in wrangling this orgy of cunts to cheer at the right time. I could feel my delight dwindling, overcome with a burgeoning disdain for everyone involved, myself included. I was just starting to build an audience of my own and I didn’t want them to come there and see me like that. I didn’t want to be there, being like that. So I stopped. Now, this show isn’t actually about any of that but it serves to explain my surprise when, in late spring of 2014, Shelley from Battersea Arts Centre asked if I wanted to make a Christmas Show and I found myself thinking: - Yes, oddly, I really do.So i did. I wrote a story about possibility and magic and grief and hope and tradition and toffees. Which is to say, Christmas. Basically.  I performed the show in the Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre for five nights in December of 2014. Then at the Connelly Theater in the East Village of New York City for two weeks in December of 2015. Then on a UK tour in December of 2017 - it’s the only old show of mine, that i like returning to and, to be honest I sometimes daydream about turning it into a film or something like that. Anyway. This year, this Christmas, is obviously what it is and i’ve decided to do this - it’s a relatively ramshackle audio recording, that i’ve cobbled together on the 23rd of December, in my house. I’ll leave it here for you to listen to whenever and as often as you like until the first of January - then i’ll take it down until next year, like the decorations. I know some of you might be irritated by the interface and it may have been more straightforward for you to listen to if i’d done it as a podcast or something like that. But, i don’t want it to be “out there” I just want it “in here”, as a fleeting little treat in the middle of a shitty winter. So, with that in mind, please don’t download it.I don’t think you should be able to, unless you’re very sneaky, but It’s quite likely I’ll do something approaching a proper release of this show at some point in the future and also, i’d like to be able to keep touring it and staging it in the years to come when we can be in the same room at the same time. I’ve put the music on the end that

would play as the audience left the theatre which is:I believe in Father Christmas - Greg LakeInto My Arms - Nick CaveOn the Road Again - Willie NelsonReligious Songs - Withered HandYou’ve Made Me So Very Happy - Blood Sweat and Tears. It also features Isy Suttie being absolutely brilliant and i couldn’t really have made this show or continued to like it as much as i do without her living round the corner and being brilliant. So there you go - here it is, it lasts about 90 minutes. (not including the music at the end)


Also huffduffed as…

  1. A Show For Christmas

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