Who knew that the trip to the supermarket would ever become a thing.
‘Okay everyone, you stay here. I’m going out.
Good luck dad.
The hunter/gatherer in us all is rekindled, albeit more gatherer than hunter these days. But nonetheless, intrepid people venturing out – some without masks - to get provisions for their family and where possible, more provisions than they realistically need.
One of my forays last week created a very welcome encounter for me.
Not a shelf full of toilet rolls but an old colleague called Norman Lovett who I have not seen for 27 years this May – and I can be precise on this timeframe and I will explain how.
Norman is a famous comedian. Or he was. Like me then, only his fame reached a higher level than mine. We worked together only once – on a tour of Scotland in 1993 and ahead of my debut at the Edinburgh Festival in the same year, marking the start of my abrupt famous years.
I was 26 - and at the time I recall thinking how remarkably old Norman was to be doing something as frightening as stand-up comedy.
And now all these years later, we meet again and to my eye, Norman looks remarkably well preserved – in fact, he looks just as he did on our tour together.
He sort of recognises me but I can see that his memory needs a little jog, so I help him along and quickly things fit in to place.
‘You’re Dominic Holland...
...you’re Tom Holland’s dad.’
I smile because Tom hadn’t been born when we last met – although Nikki had trapped me by this stage and I think she had plans already.
‘You look great Norman,’ I beamed.
‘I’m 73.’ He responded, proudly.
And quickly I started my mental arithmetic because if Norman is only 20 years older than me – then on our tour together, he was younger that I am now!
This makes me shudder and I think of those words again, which I discussed in a recent blog. Words used by the Melbourne Comedy Festival on seeing my show ECLIPSED at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017.
No matter now anyway, since the virus has put paid to all live gigs – for ALL comedians big and small. A British stand-up called David Baddiel has had his tour cancelled. David was famous and still is. The first arena comedian in fact, playing Wembley Arena and with me in the audience. I went along with some comedian called Eddie Izzard who I expect one day imagined that he would fill such rooms – and he was right.
David’s one man show, “My family, not the sit-com” played to packed houses in various West End theatres and to great acclaim. When I saw it, I told him how lucky he was that his eccentric parents had gifted him with such a magnificent story. An upside of a dysfunctional childhood.
I mention this because, writing this week in The Spectator – David flags up his relief at his tour being cancelled, which strikes me as interesting.
An upside of the Corona Virus, then?
No doubt, losing the tour income will be irksome, but not too calamitous for him. Like me, David is an author but as well as his literary fiction, he has also cracked the adolescent book market and I imagine his books create a nice royalty income, thanks very much. Nice work if one can get it.
And his tour would have been well attended, too. Not in arenas, like in his heyday but decent sized theatres and with more bums on view than velour.
And yet he is somewhat relieved at the tour has closed.
…part of me is relieved: stand-up comedy, even if you’ve been doing it professionally in various forms for 35 years, is an all-consuming, nerve-racking thing to do. So there’s always some element of ‘thank Christ for that’ to hearing that a gig’s gone down.
I take great solace in this sentiment. I too, have lost all my work and bizarrely, I am also enjoying my less stressful existence. Granted, the stress remains but has shifted to potential financial woes but this is preferable to facing the black void and that on-stage expectation.
I coined a phrase to explain the terror of stand-up comedy…
There is nothing quite as loud as the silence when a stand-up comedian is on stage!
And I take solace in David’s relief because it means that the fear is real, it is shared and it never really goes away. And pride also for me, because I know that as soon as the clever people in white coats get their shit together and get this virus licked (not literally), that I will be back on stage and facing the fear.
Too old – I’ll show you, too old.
It was great to see Norman in the supermarket this week.
But as much as I like him – and to see him looking so well, to be honest, there were lots of things I would rather have bumped in to…
Potatoes, rice, pasta and of course toilet paper – albeit I need less of this now, because I am not gigging.
David Baddiel’s tour will resume later in the year and if it manages to be half as good as his previous one-man show, it will be a great night. Do go along and put the fear of God up him.
I am posting this early - because today is now about Team Dom and Jig-Saw Wars - and if you don't know what this is - then you are not on the inside.
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