Well, it’s been a full year now. As the end of this madness is just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about returning to work. It’s been an impossible year for us all – live performers especially. But it is time to throw off our shackles to head back out there and share our passion once again. After being promised Christmas, only to have it taken from us with just a few days to go. From then until now, I have been waiting with anticipation to get back to work. I need to perform again, soon. The longer I go without performing the more challenges I will face when the time comes for me to put myself back out there.
I write my own material and if I can’t write it, I improvise it. I’m not going to be able to just go back to the same old routines and jokes. Performing now means rewriting my routines and rethinking my whole show – again. The stop-start nature of this year has allowed me to perform a few times but each time I’ve faced the same question. Who am I as a performer? I’ve been reckoning with that riddle more than a few times this year. I’ve had to re-establish what matters to me and how I could possibly express it through jokes, humour, and circus tricks? Sitting at home practising won’t do me any good. I need experience. It could be days, even weeks before I can bring the goods again and perform to the standard I expect of myself.
I will struggle and suffer at first. Furthermore, I will be trying to get as many people as possible together to watch my embarrassment. This is something all performing artists must face. Almost everything that happens on stage is worked up in private, displayed, then quickly adjusted with hindsight. It takes failure, challenges, and repetition for an act to develop its rhythm and style. This process takes time. In most cases, it is endless. To constantly be scrutinised and scrutinise myself I need to be courageous and have thick skin. Inviting people into this moment to experience my growing pains with me is embarrassing. It’s something all performers need to get used to and over time we learn to accept it and some sadistic people even come to enjoy it. This year however we have all grown soft from sitting in the comfort of our houses, performing on zoom occasionally, and watching Netflix in anticipation for our re-birth as performers.
Time is passing quickly; Summer is the busiest time of the year (apart from Christmas) for me and I need to be ready. I need to be at my peak for those sunny days and the festivals they bring. It looks like the legality of live performance is going to be debatable up to June. I know I can’t wait that long. I need to go out and work. I expect that the only venue available for a while will be the street and that’s exactly where I intend to start.