So, a year ago I went on my first National Arts Festival Adventure, seeing me on stage 18 times in 11 days. At the end of it, i was in a shaking heap, face down in the mud – twitching. Any sane person would tick that item off of their bucket list and say ‘been there, done that, two shaky thumbs up’.
But not a performer. As I lay twitching, face down in the mud created from my own sweat and tears, i was told by my infallible producer, roommate and brother Siv Ngesi –
and agreed – that ‘next year will be easier now’.
This is that next year. I don’t know what comatose Angel was thinking, as I am filled with the same amounts of dread and excitement. The pros are that ‘Yes Really Angel’ is a more solid show – it was brand new a year ago. It has now toured, it has now fattened up like that first year out of your parents house when you eat only out of bags… and not Woolies ones. The cons are that reviewers are allowed to write their opinions of my comedy… fuck. That’s the WORST fear imaginable. The fear YOU have when you imagine how scary performing stand up comedy might be (you’re mostly wrong, it’s AWESOME) is the fear I have when I imagine a reviewer writing about me. And luckily last year it was 99% good (but that 1% is all we focus on) the fact remains that comedy, like music – is completely subjective. More so. A band can get a thumbs up because the guitars were audible, heads were bobbing and chords were struck.
ME on the other hand, heads can be lolling, mics can be working but if I strike a CHORD – that could be offensive.
There are so many comedy credos and pep-talks to prepare oneself of the inevitability of a crowd not liking you, or a show not going well. And that I can handle, that is in the moment, that’s present – that’s what I’m signing up for. But the reviewers… ugh. I’m too new in this game to pretend like it’s water off of a ducks back. (And I know I walk like a duck, but cold water on my back is going to piss me off. Grahamstown is COLD, i don’t want water down my back, thanks.) People pretend that it doesn’t matter. But we all know that it does. On enough levels to sting, it matters.
BUT – that’s the game I’ve chosen. So on we merrily skip.
Luckily for me, Chevrolet has offered to loan me one of their fancy brand new Sonic RS cars to make the 10 hour (omfg) road trip in, and to zoot around the town during the festival. I’m pretty excited to see all of its ‘smart phone compatible’ features, but if I’m being honest – I’m mostly excited to drive a car with a functioning fan – so that I can turn the heat on.
I have the mastermind Nik Rabinowitz as my director, constantly pushing me to take more risks and be more fearless with the dark things I find funny, so I’m hoping he can’t be wrong.
I’ve put a few new elements into my show – which means that I wake up in cold sweats with nightmares of having forgotten my words – it also means that my show excites me again, and I’ll be on my toes with new material. It’s sometimes a good idea to change up the order one says jokes – just to confuse your mind, because otherwise you could slip into auto-pilot of familiarity with repeating them, and that’s boring for the audience. The funniest stuff is always the ‘in the moment, off the cuff stuff’ because the audience can read that it’s fresh and new. So the fresher and newer that one can make the whole show feel, the better.