So how did you two meet?

One of my friends, who has mostly dated people from OkCupid, asked me recently whether I thought I would meet someone IRL, and if that’s even possible now. So I decided to make a pie chart of all the men I’ve dated/had sex with since University and how I met them. The good news is that most of them I did meet in real life. The bad news is that almost a third of them are comedians.

pie-chart-2

Some extra facts for you:

One of the men in ‘comedy’ was a non comedian, but he was friends with a comedian and we met when he was in the audience at one of my gigs (the only time I’ve ever dated an audience member)
The one on holiday was coincidentally friends with a comedian I know
The one from the bar was working behind the bar
The one from the dating event was also working behind the bar
‘Other’ was this guy I met at Erotica one year, who was helping his dad sell Botox

Comedy

Comedy seems to be the main way for me to meet someone, but now I’m not as keen to date another comedian. It was new and exciting at first dating fellow comics, and getting to meet so many new men, but now I’m kind of over that, and want comedy to be my thing, rather than our thing. I’m obviously not going to rule it out, but that’s just my preference.

I do wish that more male audience members would chat to me after gigs though, and not just to say ‘I don’t usually find women funny, but you were great’, I mean actually chat to me. I did a gig the other week and made eye contact with a man both while I was on stage, and afterwards from across the room, but a few minutes later when I was going to find him to talk to him, he had left.

I’ve heard a lot of female comedians say that they don’t get hit on by audience members, possibly because some men find it intimidating. Perhaps in my case men are scared off by my kinky sex jokes. But if that’s the case then it’s good they find out sooner rather than later. 

A few months ago I did sort of get offered a threesome after a gig in Buckinghamshire – there was a couple, and the woman was trying to get me to go out with them afterwards, and then said I could stay at their house, but she was really drunk and I couldn’t tell exactly what the situation was. The 21-year-old me would have stayed out with them anyway and just seen what happened, but I just really wanted to go home to my own bed and sleep. Clearly I’m not young or cool enough to have threesomes anymore. 

Through friends

Through friends is clearly by my statistics also a great way to meet men, but this has almost always ended badly for me, so I’m a bit reluctant to try that route again. Having said that if you’re my friend and you have any friends you think I’d be a good match with, that I haven’t already dated and/or fucked, then let me know.

The problem with online dating

One of the many problems I have with dating is time. In that I probably don’t actually have enough time to date even though I want to, and this is amplified when it comes to online dating. If I’ve met someone already in real life and I already know I like them, then I’m way more likely to make time to meet up with them, but if it’s just someone I’ve been talking to online, even if I think we might get along, then it’s hard for me to sacrifice time I would spend with myself or seeing friends, to meet them.

I cancelled a date today as I needed time to write a monologue to submit to something as the deadline is Friday. But if I’d already met him and knew I liked him then I might have been more willing to try and do both in one day. (I am half way through the monologue and now I have writer’s block on what to write next. Hence writing this blog).

What I’d really like

I wish more guys would talk to me in real life, and I don’t mean the man that said ‘hey baby’ at 11pm the other night on the street. I wish guys would talk to me in coffee shops, or at bars, after my gigs, or in the supermarket. I hate the fact that this happens all the time in films but never actually happens in life.

And before anyone says that I can make a move first – I do sometimes (both in real life and online) and it’s usually met with horror, disinterest, or initial interest leading to fear because I’m interested, and so ultimately disinterest.

Maybe when I find a guy who does genuinely like a woman making the first move (not just says they do), that will be my ideal man and we will fall in love and have hundreds of babies. (JOKE).

So why don’t men talk to us in public?

Perhaps because women are more vocal about sexual harassment now, men are scared of being accused of this, so some of them just avoid talking to us altogether. Weirdly this hasn’t stopped actual sexual harassment. But there’s a big difference between starting a friendly conversation with a women and seeing if she wants to talk too, and being that annoying guy who won’t leave her alone.

Perhaps another reason is because a lot of the time I don’t make an effort. I’m pretty low maintenance. I often don’t wear any make up. Sometimes I don’t wash my hair, and dry shampoo is not as effective as I want it to be. Basically I look rough as fuck about 50% of the time.

Yesterday I put on some make-up and did my hair, wore one of my favourite dresses, and a necklace everyone seems to love. I went to host my Tuesday night quiz. One of the teams drew a heart on their answer sheet with ‘quizmaster’ inside it, I was bought a drink anonymously by an ‘Irish guy’ (that’s all the barmaid would tell me), and I caught a random guy at the bar checking me out. 

So maybe if I want to be chatted up like in the movies, I need to look more like I could be in the movies, not like I just woke up and couldn’t give a shit (even though some guys do find that look more sexy). I guess part of this also has to do with feeling more confident about myself, and therefore coming across as more attractive. 

The last reason is that a lot of the good ones are taken. I was standing at a bar the other night ordering pizza and briefly spoke to a cute guy. Then the bar person handed him two drinks and he walked away. Bye cute guy who probably has a girlfriend or boyfriend. 

What now?

Dating myself has been going well. I went for pizza alone the other day and had a great time, as I didn’t have to talk to anyone else. In terms of meeting someone, I am going to make an effort to approach men in real life regardless, I will re-arrange that internet date I had to cancel, and I’m going to go to some dating events this year (and hopefully it won’t just be the barman I fancy this time). 

Top image from izquotes

Lift it off the page

The other week I did a gig at Downstairs at the King’s Head on the Thursday night. This is one the best open mic nights in London that you can do, as it usually gets a good audience, and there is an opportunity to eventually progress to weekend gigs there. I had a fairly good gig and afterwards I asked for feedback from Peter who runs the night. He said that my joke writing is strong and has improved over the last few years, but that I need to sound less rehearsed. I asked whether I sound like that all the time (wondering whether even the newer material sounds like that) and he said yes – I have a certain rhythm to my voice when I’m on stage.

I’ve had this feedback several times and I know it’s something that I need to work on. When I gigged with Russell Kane a while ago he said the same thing – good material but I need to sound more natural. I then watched him do about half an hour (maybe longer) that he had done 100s of times, yet he made it look like so fresh and off the cuff. He suggested I MC more to improve on this, which I have been doing, but as I don’t tend to do much material when I am MCing, this doesn’t really affect how I sound when I do my actual jokes.You can hear the difference when I go into a pre-written joke. I also tend to inflect at the end of my sentences to the point where I have been asked if I am Australian.

I think my problem is that I have to learn my material so well otherwise I will forget it that I end up learning it too well. So what can I do about it? An acting teacher suggested that I try to tell my jokes to a friend like we are having a conversation, or to try and practice my set in different voices so I’m definitely going to try this out and see if it has any effect. My  friend Alana (who is actually Australian) is staying with me at the moment so she is going to have to listen to this.

Does sounding too rehearsed matter? Anthony Jesilnik (one of my favourite comedians) has a very specific rhythm and tone when he does material, and he’s very successful. (Yes I just compared myself to Jesilnik, and what?) I guess it just depends what suits your act. But if sounding less rehearsed means that I have more of a connection to the audience and therefore have a better gig, and get booked for more gigs, then that can only be a good thing.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t text him first

I have a joke that goes ‘I think one of the main problems I have with men, is that I like to do a lot of the chasing, and guys don’t like to be chased – unless they’re playing Grand Theft Auto’. I know – it’s not my best, but it introduces another longer joke about women being thought of as psychos when they pursue men, but men being thought of as romantic when they chase women. It ultimately relies on hyperbole, but I’m also making a point.

Why do men think women are crazy if we are forward, or honest about how we feel about them? I have lost count of the number of times I have heard a woman say she’s not going to text back straight away, or seem too into him in case he runs a mile., Myself included. I have in the past deliberately ‘backed off’ or tried to downplay how much I like someone because of this. This is a real struggle, as I find it very hard to play it cool. But why should I?

When I first met the guy I am seeing right now, I had already been told about him by our mutual friend and shown pictures of him, so I knew who he was. My opening line was basically ‘Hi, you’re the Tory twat aren’t you?!’ (which is my weird idea of flirting), and we went from there. I made it very clear that I was sexually interested in him, and at one point he caught me sucking on a straw while looking at him in a very provocative way…eventually we ended up all over each other and outside the pub kissing. In conversations since then, he has said that he liked my confidence and that made me glad that I had pursued him so confidently.

After the first time we met, and our first date, I did wait a bit for him to text me first (although on both occasions, I was going to message if he didn’t). The next time we saw each other we had sex for the first time. Normally I would wait for the guy to message first after that, but I didn’t want it to be this big thing…so I messaged him first. And guess what? He didn’t think I was mental! (At least not because of that).

I feel like so often we are forced into this fine balancing act – let him know that you like him, but not too much. It’s such hard work! So I’ve decided screw that. I’m breaking all the rules! Sometimes I text him back straight away, sometimes I even double message! Sometimes I invite him to stuff and tell him it would be awesome if he came along! If letting a guy know that you are interested in him makes him less interested in you, then maybe he wasn’t worth it in the first place. Hopefully this one is worth it. Even if he is a Tory twat…

 

How to win a comedy competition

Last week on Thursday, after writing a blog entry about creative rejection, I went to put myself up for the ultimate creative rejection – a comedy competition. I’m not sure why I keep entering them, but for some reason I do. I’ve done okay in a few in the past, sometimes progressing to the next round, and I even came third runner up in What The Frock! Newcomer Award 2014. I put that down to the fact it was on the day I had found out my dad died. I’d already dealt with a massive life event that day, so getting on stage for a competition somewhat paled in comparison.

But generally I get more nervous than usual, put pressure on myself and then don’t put in my best performance. Alternatively if I have put in a good performance and I don’t place in the competition, or progress to the next round, I find it takes the edge off the fact I’ve had a good gig, which is annoying. I’ve been advised by other comedians to just treat them like just another gig, so I decided that’s what I would do.

I arrived at the gig, a small dimly lit back room (but with no door so you could still hear noise from the bar). A blue hue surrounded the space, which also matched the temperature of the room.

The comperes were a surreal pair – two men dressed in matching suits, one of them played the drums while the other told old fashioned jokes about killing his wife or having a sex doll. Cymbals were hit to indicate punchlines. The drums player also sometimes did political songs on a banjo. The opening act (not part of the competition) warmed up the crowd a bit more, but I was not optimistic about how the night would go. This was a self-contained competition, with no future rounds, so only one person could win. I remember thinking 1 in 10 is not great odds.

I was also thinking about the fact that I was the only woman on the whole evening, and the fact that it can make it look to the audience like female comedians are some sort of rare anomaly. Sometimes it’s better to have more women on with you, so it doesn’t feel so much like tokenism. In retrospect, this probably made me stand out, so it could have been a good thing.

I was on second, and thought I did pretty well. I decided to go for it and do a couple of my darker jokes, which I probably wouldn’t normally do in a competition, but the crowd seemed to like it. I didn’t know whether I had done enough to win, but I was pleased with my performance.

At the end of the night the comperes called out two names they had thought had done the best to come back onto the stage and my name was one of them! The other was an older man called Jimbo who was a bit of a character, and did a set involving bodily functions when you get older. I was surprised that Ben Clover had not been called, as I thought he had done really well.

One of the comperes said my name to get the audience to cheer and they cheered a reasonable amount, I thought the other guy is definitely going to get a louder cheer, but then they said his name and the crowd cheered even less!I had won! I had finally won a comedy competition! Plus 50 quid prize! And a little trophy! They gave me the microphone  to say something, but I was a giggling happy wreck and just thanked the audience. Twice. While grinning insanely.

Does this mean I will be entering more competitions in future? Maybe. And if I do, I’m sure I will be more confident, and remember to treat it just like any other gig. I am also going to prepare a mini speech for next time. After all, this is closest I will ever get to winning an Oscar.

carmen-ali-with-her-quipster-awards-trophy

 

They just weren’t ready for you yet

Last night I sent an article, I had written a while ago and just edited, to an online women’s magazine and got an email back just a few hours later to say it hadn’t been accepted. This is the same website that I applied to work for about a year ago and was not successful, but they encouraged me to submit articles on a freelance basis. It upset me that they were not taking it, and reminded me of all past creative rejections in the past (including their previous rejection) so I felt it even more strongly than if it was just a single incident. I may have cried a little, while listening to ‘You just haven’t earned it yet baby’ (the Kirsty MacColl version).

The article I wrote is not really in my usual tone of writing – it’s a bit more adapted for the tone I have seen their articles written in – way more cheesy  women’s magazine style than I generally write. That’s why I sent it to them. It’s frustrating when you see articles that you think are of a similar standard (or even not as good), and you think ‘if they take that, why won’t they take mine?!’

I recently went for an interview for a marketing job in a theatre and I didn’t get it – they said I was great but there were people with more specific experience. I wasn’t as bothered by this, as I knew only one person could get the job, and I know there wasn’t much I could do about it. But the writing rejection annoyed me because they publish lots of articles, rather than just a situation where there is one job available.

It’s the same doing stand-up – sometimes you see people doing gigs that you can’t get on that you don’t think are funnier than you. That’s the problem with writing and doing comedy. Applying for the same job over and over, and then comparing yourself to other people. Ah, high expectations followed by self-loathing.

I read something recently that said you should aim for 100 rejections a year because you will surely get accepted by some of them. I like this logic and plan to follow it more, for both writing and applying for gigs. I know I shouldn’t be so sensitive as well – J K Rowling received loads of rejections before Harry Potter was published!

Maybe I will also not try to change my writing to fit a specific style that I think someone wants, and just be myself more. Then if people hate my writing or my comedy at least I know they will be hating me for who I am.

I went to a life coaching class once and they taught us this mantra to console yourself when you are rejected from a job, or an opportunity, or a romantic partner – ‘They just weren’t ready for you yet’, and I have to try and remember this when I feel like I’m not good enough. Because if i keep going, there will be people who are ready for me. And I will be ready too.

Date with a Tory

On Friday, I did my first half an hour show as part of Laugh or Cry Presents Cruel Brittania, and I invited a date. I had met this person the week before at a friend’s birthday and we had some pretty good chemistry. Mainly because, well, he’s a Tory Brexiteer and I’m a Labour Remainer.

I’ve never had political class based banter before with someone, but it turns out it’s my thing. I told him I want him to fuck me like he wants to fuck the NHS, and he teased me for being an ‘adorable lefty’. It goes against pretty much everything I stand for, but it’s like my head says leave, but my pussy says remain.

Having a date at the gig made me way more nervous, because obviously I wanted to impress him, but I wasn’t planning to talk about him while on stage until I did my joke about steak and blowjob day, where I ask the audience if they have ever done it, and he cheered, so I took the bait and told everyone he was there. I also ended up telling everyone his political views – which were surprisingly not very popular in a North London theatre.

Everyone likes a bit of real life drama, and some of the moments were funnier because he was there, however I think it also had the effect of distracting from the show itself, and meaning I was self conscious when some of my usual jokes didn’t get as many laughs as my commentary on the situation did. It was frustrating because I wanted to get a real sense of how my show could be, but couldn’t focus fully on that.

I still think it was good to do my first half an hour, develop a bit of a narrative, and get comfortable with being on stage for that long. I also did have a lot of fun. Watching back the video, I actually wish I had abandoned the specific jokes for the show a bit more, gone further with getting him involved, and been more mean to him. I mean Tories do deserve it.

It’s also difficult writing a blog entry knowing he’s going to be reading it. My last date story I knew wouldn’t be read by the guy it was about – it was a Tinder date, I never told him my full name, and I didn’t want to see him again. But I know this one is definitely going to be reading this, so I still feel like I am trying to impress him.

If you would like to see some of the best bits of the gig, below is a video of the highlights. Sadly my phone stopped recording before the end where I said ‘right I’m off now to get some Tory dick’, which may or may not have happened later on. Gotta keep some things private…(just not the railways or the NHS).

How to write a comedy show

The longest set I’ve done is 20 minutes, but next week Friday the 16th of September, I am doing a half an hour work in progress at Laugh and Cry at The Lion and Unicorn Pub in Kentish Town. But how to do it? Should I treat it like long set, just doing more jokes than usual, or give it a narrative?

Most comedians tend to centre their shows around a theme or a story, this involves writing specific jokes to fit with that story, so is it easier for your first show just to get all your best material together and screw the narrative arc?

I thought about doing a show about my father’s death (I’m sure I heard somewhere that Stewart Lee thinks this is one of the main reasons Edinburgh shows have become hack), but I don’t know if that’s too personal, or worse, too reductionist. I don’t want to have to leave out some of my best jokes, or force the show too much to fit to a theme.

Sometimes a show’s theme or story can change along the way as well. When I went to see Bridget Christie’s preview (which was hilarious), the Brexit result hadn’t come out yet, as it was on the day of the referendum, and she did make some jokes about it, but apparently after that happened, her show became much more focussed on Brexit. I might have to see it again now.

I do think that having a ‘schtick’ or a theme can make audiences more inclined to come and see your show, but on the flip side, if it’s a good show, it doesn’t matter. Some of the best shows I have seen have had a story, and some of them haven’t. Some of them are a collections of little stories; snippets into a person’s life. I’m going to spend some time writing down all my ideas, and jokes I already have, and see what happens. Maybe a theme I hadn’t even thought of will come out of it…