Before the lockdown I was fetishizing about being ‘busy’ – but after a gig everything changed
Dog trainer, masseuse, CEO of a cleaning company were all alternative careers I considered during the lockdown when all of my stand-up gigs were gone and I really had fun going to bed at 8pm.
The acres of time I spent with my children made me realize how much time I had missed. I was so often physically there but so preoccupied with work … a show, a book, whatever I did, that a cardboard cut out of myself would have been just as useful and maybe a better cook.
Despite all the horrors of the pandemic, I loved being home and wondered if life would be better without the ruthless life of being a comedian. If you have a creative job, it is very difficult to walk away from it. There is always something to write, do, record, mourn.
I began to aspire to a job where the working day actually ended. Could I be a plumber? There’s an all-female plumbing company called Stopcocks, maybe I could train myself and join them, I thought. Then I could actually stop working.
I have taken the kids with me on tours very often and we have had wonderful adventures at comedy festivals around the world, traveling was always about me and my job and not ‘family time’ from the same way painting giant purple hearts all over our locked down hallway had been. More and more, this little fantasy grew in my head of doing something different with my life.
A neighbor of mine and I tried to buy the lease for our local cafe, which was for sale. My neighbor, whom I will call Sophie because that is her name, is a wedding dress designer and has had her own boutique for years and therefore had commercial experience.
I’m a comedian who finds her bills and receipts in sock drawers and in the cookie jar. Between us, we were a great team, she took care of the business side and I took care of drinking coffee and chatting with customers.
Alas, the owners have gone, as they put it in showbusiness (and, ultimately, in the cafe too) “another way”. We did not win the bidding war and the dream cafe Sophie and I imagined has turned into a Lebanese restaurant. Their food is delicious and a welcome addition to our region so it all ended well.
Sophie was not to be persuaded to start Ealing Healing and Cleaning with me – my business idea to go to people’s homes together, one of us giving them a massage while the other cleaned their kitchen – I still think it There is a void in the market for such a service. Imagine having an amazing massage while listening to the sound of someone else washing your pots. I dream of such a thing).
Last night, however, all my fanciful ideas of an alternate career for myself were pushed off a cliff after doing three gigs in one night at crowded indoor comedy clubs. There I was at the Top Secret Comedy Club in Leicester Square, jumping off the stage after my set in the downstairs room, then rushing to the upstairs room to do a second show. Then I flew to Bethnal Green for my closing slot at the Backyard Comedy Club. It was back, the crazy adrenaline rush that can shorten my life but nothing in the world can beat.
A lively audience, agitated, bursting with laughter, as happy to be back in their place as we comics were going to be back on stage. Ridiculously fun. This is the only place where I know what I’m doing and even if it goes wrong and I’m wrong, I always know why. Sounds logical to me. This is, in short, my job. The world of plumbing and heating services will have to do without me.