At the start of 2020 I joined another of Chris Head’s excellent stand-up comedy courses, hosted at the Old Coffee House in Soho. This one was for new material development for non-beginners (I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an experienced stand-up although several of my course mates were comedians with a lot of gigs behind them).
Little did any of us anticipate what was to come in March 2020.
Fortunately we managed to complete the taught part of the course but the end-of-course showcase was scheduled for 17th March (St. Patrick’s Day) and, in his infinite wisdom, our great leader of a prime-minister decided to tell the whole country the evening before that they should not visit pubs, clubs, restaurants or, in fact, any social gathering due to the spread of Coronavirus. In keeping with his directionless dithering, it wasn’t until the end of that week that the government put any legal direction (requiring compensation for the affected businesses) behind this “advice”.
Nevertheless, the damage was done and the showcase had to be cancelled at very short notice.
In the light of the subsequent pandemic, perhaps the cancellation of our showcase seems like small beer and myself and many of my coursemates thought that it would be a small casualty of the damage that the lockdowns caused to the hospitality and entertainment industry (never mind compared with the cost in human terms of the pandemic). Various of us ended up far from London anyway (Naomi went back to New Zealand, where she’s hopefully avoided the worst of the virus but isn’t likely to be allowed to pop back for a quick trip to England any time soon. Pete was already building Nightingale Hospitals in his day job as an army officer and he was due to be posted up to Catterick, I seem to remember.)
But while we knew Chris was a nice chap, we didn’t expect him to remember the cancelled showcase when things started to get back to some sort of “normal” in mid-2021. Yet he did — and he booked the show at one of London’s best comedy venues, The Bill Murray in Islington. This pub/club is where many of the stars of the comedy world do new material shows and the night after our show, Nina Conti was due to perform.
So six of us from the (ahem) experienced course and six from Chris’s beginners course took to the Bill Murray stage on 18th October 2021 — nineteen months and a day after it was originally scheduled. The overall standard of all the comedians, after such a long hiatus, was amazingly good
I can’t say that my act featured all new material but there’s a few Coronavirus references. It was professionally videoed and you’ve probably already seen it at the top of the post.