I ought to emphasize that, simply because I have started performing stand-up, I have no intention of becoming a stand-up comedian. In a variant of the Groucho Marx paradox, the fact that the open-mic circuit is now so bloated as to allow even me in front of an audience rather proves how worthless it has become, and how foolish I would be to want to get into it.
Apart from anything else, I don't like jokes, or anything resembling them. What is a joke supposed to prove? Isn't making people laugh a bit of a waste of time? The process of joke-creation is a reductive one, and the mechanism of mockery feeds on its own ironies rather than achieving anything worthwhile and concrete. Leave the joke-telling to the 'jokers', I say. François-René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) was a great writer and diplomat, and he rarely made jokes. And he had a steak named after him. I'd rather have a steak named after me than be an object of mirth.
Unfortunately, however, I am an attention-hungry hypocrite, and deluded, so I will continue to make occasional public appearances in rooms above and below pubs on weeknights just so long as I can detect the faintest hint of approval. The Camden School of Enlightenment is not an open-mic comedy night, anyway. Not one bit. It promises to be both educational and inspiring, perhaps (dare I say) cultural as well. I'm very much looking forward to it; it may be the ideal arena for my stand-up routine, which is, as you've probably guessed, not very funny.
It's tomorrow night: Tuesday 11 January, at 8pm (doors 7.30pm), at The Camden Head on Camden High Street. Fran Isherwood will talk about the glory days of Music Hall, Racker Donnelly will read James Joyce, and Ryan Millar himself is giving a talk about Life and Death at Sea. Plus myself and other gems, no doubt. Oh, and it's free, of course.