Noticed I’ve been getting a few more hits to this site again as a result of doing lots of talks and performances lately, (I even made a new page that lists them, and a newsletter!) And I’ve been having a lot of ideas that might be worth talking about a bit here sometime. So it seems like a good idea to start this up again, though perhaps not in the weeknotes style this time.
Things feel really exciting at the moment. I’m still really enjoying work, but it’s been six months now and I’m all settled in, so I’ve started doing a lot of stuff outside of working hours. So far, it’s having the very desired effect of introducing me to new people and places, and giving me lots of experience and millions of new ideas. Far too many ideas, actually. I’ve been thinking about simulating A.I, the opposites of social networks, science fiction physics, the arts of hacking and performing, and the relationship between technology and magic. It’s almost at the point where I can’t choose which thoughts to become obsessed with to the point I actually build something. Such a lovely feeling though, to suddenly be finding so many things so interesting and exciting. My god I’m tired though. I’m a fucking wreck.
It’s all the talks, I think. Never thought I’d be much of a talker, but I’ve recently hit upon my perfect format for a conversation! It involves me and about 150 strangers, none of whom are allowed to say anything.
I’ve started to worry about that, but only a tiny bit.
Talking and performing, it is a conversation. Performers are obsessed with audiences, which seems strange to audience members, who don’t consider themselves anything to do with anyone else in the room. But being on stage means behaving as though you’re having a conversation with a unique being. I’m getting to the point where I’ve done some of the same talks three times now, and they really are different every time. People laugh in different places and to different degrees every single time. Because they’re people! And so am I. And because a million factors are in play. Funny literature can be returned to when someone’s in the mood, or accessed in isolation from other, similar stuff. It’s tolerant. But live comedy is funny to listen to at that time, in that place, or it isn’t. It seems to be about social skills, it’s socialising! And it sharpens and exaggerates personality traits to the extent that a lot of practiced comedy people are ‘like that’ in most social situations. Which I find a bit odd, but understandable. Personalities are more maleable than we’re comfortable with, maybe, and it’s a bit unsettling to think that nothing’s that solid: everything can swell and shrink and slip and slide.
Apart from the buzz of it, the amount of basic learning about audiences you can only get ’gigging’ regularly is really incredible. In many ways it is so much better than writing alone or for an editor; audiences who’ve never heard of you aren’t going to flatter you (although sometimes audiences do seem a bit easily pleased). The laughter of strangers is worth a lot. And it’s the quiet ones you want.