There are easier things to do in life than being a stand up comedian. Especially being a comedian with no gimmick: no musical instrument, props, or character. Just me and my stories, here goes…
As such, most stand-up comics crave familiarity to reduce the stress. Fear of the unknown as they say and it follows then that any firsts are always more stressful – which brings me to my gig on Sunday night.
In Poland. A first.
On an army base. A first.
The audience is a room full of soldiers. A first.
And I am on a bill with people I have never met before.
These brave young men (Welsh Guards) and one women (a doctor) are in Poland to act as a line in the sand against any expansionist ambitions that Russia might have. 120 brave men pitted against the Russian army then – and yet, on Sunday night, on the base, it appeared that only one man (not so young) was shitting himself.
After the gig (having survived) – I sat and chatted with these lads and felt rather humbled by their infectious enthusiasm and the pride that they take in themselves. One lad explained to me that he was a driver of a vehicle called a Jackal. Proudly, he showed me photos of his vehicle and explained its 400 litre fuel tank and top speed of 90mph (without its guns that is!). Poland has had a cold winter and their six month tour has regularly taken in minus 15 degrees Celsius – but factoring in wind chill and a lack of roof, his working environment is more like minus 35 degrees.
And with no heater by the way which puts my heated seat and steering wheel in perspective. Plus my car has a roof.
This young man had more surprises in store for me, like his age – barely, nineteen. Which perhaps shouldn’t have surprised me so much given the famous song ‘Nineteen’ by Paul Hardcastle that featured so heavily in my youth.
But, I was shocked nonetheless.
When I was 19 – I had never driven on a motorway – and now my twins are older than 19 – and to think of their faces when I ask either of them to take Tess for a walk or to go and fetch some milk.
Everything is relative of course.
But to see these 120 lads scream with laughter (at least, they did when Kane Brown, the compere was on) and then to sing their hearts out to Wonder Wall was a sight to behold.
Stand up comics risk dying every time they go to work – but not in a way that soldiers do – it was a pleasure and an honour to spend an evening with them.
And my thanks also to Jamie Raven, Kane Brown, Alice Barlow and Jules Nelson for completing the bill.