Celebrity and Comedian

One of the many perks of being a stand-up comedian apart from the fact

that you can play golf in outrageously-patterned trousers and pastel-pink

Pringle sweaters without anyone questioning your sexuality- is that once

you start getting a reputation as someone who can be relied on todeliver

the goodsand keep an audience happy for an hour or so, the quality of the

work offered to you improves. Well, so they tell me. Its never actually happened to me. Im joking!

Look, Im a comedian. What do you expect?


I dont mean that after a mere six or seven months of proving yourself

competent at amusing an audience you can expect to be asked to play The

London Palladium or embark on a sixty-date tour of British theatres

supporting Michael McIntyre or Steve Coogan. No, that sort of job only comes along after at least eight months of proving yourself.


But once you start being asked to work at more prestigious events, as a

stand-up comedian, after-dinner speaker or perhaps the master of

ceremonies for the evenings entertainment, keeping the audience informed

and jollied along, you may well find yourself working alongside, and

possibly socialising with, that most fabulous of creations – The Celebrity”.


And the world of celebrities and what can change someone from a mere

person into a celebrity, is what I’m going to be talking about in this and

several future blogs. Now call me old-fashioned…

Oi! Phil! Youre old-fashioned!”…but to my mind, people who have been on Big Brother or got voted offThe X Factoror maybe appeared on any and all daytime television shows that involve household improvements, ancient artefacts hidden in your attic, digging-up vegetables from your garden or just being followed by a camera crew while they carry out their normal everyday duties as a traffic warden, white-line-in-the-middle-of-the-road-painter or demon possessed, axe-wielding, serial killer, are not celebrities.


Lets paint a thick white line under that one right now. Without a camera crew following us.


They might think theyre celebs, and often, egged-on by get-rich-quick

managers who want to cash-in on their fleetingly flimsy fame, they are led

to believe theyrestars”. But the truth is….and I know this isnt

grammatical, so dont write in….stars, they aint and never will be.


A real star is someone who can walk into a room and without deliberately

bringing attention to his or herself, the very nature of their presence can

create an atmosphere of excitement. Even though, nine times out of ten, theyre fully clothed.


This frisson of excitement could be caused by that persons impressive body

of work in film or television or theatre or sport, making them instantly

recognisable. On a different level the excitement could be created because that person is the current Number One in the pop charts and is hot! Six months later, when the follow-up song fails to chart, theyll be all but forgotten. But,for one brief shining moment” theyre the centre of the universe.


Heres an example of how someone can create that sort of excitement and

what it took to change him from an actor to a superstar. In fact one of the

first true superstars from the era when that (now over-used) superlative

was first heard.


Robert Redford was a familiar face in films like Barefoot In the Park”

and The Chase” in the mid 1960s. He was a likeable, blandly blond but

good-looking guy and could have gone on playing likeable, blandly blond

good-looking roles into his forties.


Then Dame Fortune came knocking on his front door with the script for

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Actually she may well have rung

his door bell, left the script on his front step and run away. She does love a practical joke does Dame Fortune.


Thats why you and me have never won a million quid on the Lottery, yet

we still keep buying tickets every week. And every time we pick the

numbers we feel sure will win and hand over our hard-earned cash to pay

for them, old Dame Fortune is standing in a corner somewhere, doubled-up, wiping away the copious tears of laughter that roll down her puffy, overly-rouged cheeks.


Where the hell was I? Oh yes, Robert Redford. Likeable. Blandly blond

etc. etc. Then he made Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” and his life

changed forever. For reasons that defy explanation ( if it could be explained, every film released would be just as popular and make a similar fortune ) this 1969 western became an instant classic, causing people around the world to queue around the block to get into their cinemas ( no multiplexes then ) to see it.


So what point am I trying to make? Simply this…

William Goldman, the screenwriter who penned Butch and Sundance

made this insightful comment about Redford.


Before the film was released, rooms did not hush when he entered them.

Inferring that once the entire movie-going world fell in love with the film,

thereafter, everywhere that Redford went, rooms did hush when he entered



Thanks to a forty-year career that includes Hollywood classics like The

Sting”, The Natural”, All The Presidents Men” and Indecent

Proposal”, I would guess that rooms will always hush when he enters



To get to these Olympian heights, he didnt re-build someones patio within

24 hours or auction off their family heirlooms or find them a dream home

in the sun. No, all he had to do was to become a great film actor, producer and director. And stay in the public eye for almost half a century. Simples!


And that, my friends, is what makes him a real celebrity. Which leads me, neatly, into a little movie-style teaser trailer for my next blog in which Ill be telling you about some of the celebrities Ive encountered in my job.

Coming Soon To This Blog! An epic tale of one man against an audience.

A comedians life

I don’t mind admitting that I’m proud to be a comedian.  Proud to be able to do a job that makes people feel better.  Proud to be able to use my talent and my experience to get a whole roomful of people roaring with laughter.

Yes, I know they say that pride comes before a fall. But that’s only because Humpty Dumpty was admiring himself in the mirror just before he slipped off that wall.

Old Humpty, he must have had some influence, when you think about it.  If you or me fell off a wall, we’d just have to lie there and hope someone ‘phoned for an ambulance’.  Not Humpty! No, just two seconds after he fell off the wall, who arrived at the scene of the accident? All the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men. Not just ‘some of them. Not a battalion or a regiment. The whole lot of them! They must have heard the bang….and every member of the Kings army rode over there immediately.  Impressive or what?

Mind you…they were pretty useless weren’t they? All of them couldn’t put Humpty back together again.  He’d have been better off just lying there, hoping someone would phone for an ambulance.

I don’t know what this has got to do with anything, but it just goes to show how easily your mind can wander when you’re waiting for  No More Nails to repair the leg of your kitchen table. ( BEAT)  It’s a pity there wasn’t any  No More Nails around in Humpty Dumpty’s day. It would have been an entirely different story. ( BEAT ) Where the hell was I?

Comedy is a craft. You have to learn it and it can take years.  Don’t mistake being a comedian with that person who most sane people try to avoid, ‘the life and soul of the party’, the sort of person  who likes to crack gags, mostly rude, in a crowd of friends and colleagues after a few bevvies.

A comedian who knows his craft can stand on stage, stone cold sober, knowing how to use a microphone (even that takes practice) facing an audience of people he’s never seen before – and most probably may never see again.  Even before he’s told his first joke he can ‘smell’ what sort of audience they are by checking their body language,  facial expressions and general demeanour.

If he finds a friendly, smiling face, he’ll be drawn towards it. If her husband’s sat next to her, the sensible comedian will quickly start looking for another friendly face.

And here’s the thing. Even if he reads hostility or just plain old-fashioned indifference in their eyes, he still has to open his mouth, switch on the charm and try and win them over.  Because, and let’s get down to brass tacks here, that’s his job and he’s getting paid for it.

Many aspiring comedians can’t grasp the concept that being a stand-up comic is a job.  A comic may only be on stage for twenty minutes or half an hour, but the joke-telling, the heckle-put downs ( all comics had better have a shed – load up their sleeves at all times ) , the rapport with the audience,  the actual entertaining, is only part of his job.

A comedian should be prepared to put in the hours during the day, creating comedy ideas – jokes, throwaway lines, monologues, crazy ‘ off the wall ‘ thoughts – anything funny to keep his act fresh.  He needs to keep up-to-date with current events in the political, showbiz and sporting worlds, so that if a big news story breaks during the day before his gig, involving a footballer or a supermodel ( or if he’s really lucky, both! ) he’s created a short routine based around that story or at the very least, a couple of news-related gags.

A joke connected with that day’s headlines need not be the funniest gag in history, but even if it’s only mildly amusing it will usually get a positive reaction. Comedy audiences are prone to be hip, bright, intelligent people who may have been discussing the day’s news with friends over a drink before the show. If  the audience recognise that the comedian has seemingly ‘ gone to the trouble  of thinking-up  brand new jokes especially for them it’ll make the audience feel special.

Comedy is not an exact science. Delivering topical material isn’t a guarantee of a good night for the comedian. But an audience who feel ‘special’ can be more receptive. So when the comedian hits them with his rock solid, tried and tested material, he has every chance of winning them over and getting consistently big laughs.

Which, in case you weren’t aware, is what every comedian wants to hear….

Anyone who stands before a roomful of strangers with the challenge of having them in stitches is a true hero in my book. Or the world’s fastest surgeon!

To win over a roomful of strangers takes practice, patience and talent.

A comedians act has to build over his allotted time. To stand up there for one hour and whip them into frenzy, at times, can be an enormous task.

Many of the late and great comedians of our time have gone through hell and come back, before winning the respect of the people.

Yes the comedian is a true warrior, a diplomat, a cunning lion and at times has the quick minded reaction of a modern day fighter pilot.

Reading that last sentence back, I think I must have inhaled some of that No More Nails!