Me: (for the hundredth time that day) Free comedy show tonight!
Man: (looks at flyer) Is that you?
Me: Yeah that’s me!
Man: Oh that’s so cool. Wait… is that your boyfriend?
Me: Yeah, we do the show together.
*Man cries out ‘NOOOOOOO’, drops flyer, stamps on it, sets fire to it and storms off into the distance to go and see ‘Single Comedians Trying to Impress You’ instead*
Yes, I’m exaggerating, but this sort of thing did happen, albeit to a lesser extent. While I was performing ‘Love Hate Relationship’ at Edinburgh Festival for 10 days with my boyfriend, Jake Pickford, I noticed that sometimes men would lose interest in the show as soon as they found out my comedy show partner was also my real life partner, which got me wondering – is your relationship status important as a performer? More importantly, should it be?
I was speaking to a comedian after a gig, before I went to Edinburgh, and she was telling me about building up an audience, talking to your fans after gigs and making sure you give them business cards to add you on social media so that they follow you and want to come to see you again. This is great advice and something I definitely need to more of (business cards coming soon), but then she said something which surprised me – she told me to stop talking about my boyfriend in my set and pretend I’m single.
She explained that even while she was in a relationship she used to give off the illusion of being single in order to gain more male fans. The idea is to make them think they have a chance with you, even if they have no chance in hell. I said that I couldn’t really do that since my boyfriend is also a comedian, plus we are doing a show together. We’d have to take our relationship status off Facebook for a start. Cue a large amount of concerned “are you ok” messages, if we changed it to single.
Of course she’s not the only one; I know other performers who keep their relationships on the down low, even some who still do jokes or whole shows about being single. Musicians and actors have been doing it for years to attract more fans. Britney Spears even went as far as to pretend she was a virgin to keep her male fan base in the hope of being the one to ‘hit’ her for the first time. According to some internet sites, her mother has now said some guy at college got there even before Justin Timberlake.
I do understand why some performers do it, but I just can’t. If it was the other way round and Jake was going round telling women he was single to get more fans, I’d be upset and annoyed. It took me 15 years of dating to finally find someone who is so proud to be with me, and it would feel insulting to be hidden away.
There are tons of comedy couples who are successful, because they are funny, not because they are available. So now we just need to work on the funny part.
If you don’t want to come and watch me because there’s no way I will sleep with you; that’s okay. There are plenty of other people who don’t make all life decisions with their genitals. Like the audiences who came to see our show and enjoyed it. Whether they were single, coupled, or even the Facebook classic ‘it’s complicated’.
‘Love Hate Relationship’ will be at The Plough and Harrow on the 6th September 2015 as part of the Comedian’s Club, 8pm