A John of too many trades

Magician multitasking

I don’t know if it’s the ADHD in me, but I’m constantly finding moments in my life when I feel lost; like I’m aimlessly wandering round in circles. Always doing useful and productive things, but never quite heading in a totally satisfactory direction.

I’ve felt this quite a lot recently. Just a general feeling of unease. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but it’s been building for a while.

After some thought, it turns out the problem is the same it usually is for me: doing too many different things at no meaningful level.

For me, I think my foray into stand up comedy has been a prime example of this. In my eagerness to get stage time and hone material, I’ve allocated lots of time to comedy, probably more than I should.

I’ve always wanted to perform stand up but the likelihood of me earning vast amounts of money, selling out stadiums, or even making a living at it, are very slim (insert any kind of “especially with your material” gag here). I feel that I kind of got off to a bit of a false start, winning Hot Water Comedy’s “New Comedian of the year” competition, but the more I follow the circuit, speak to acts and analyse my own performances, the more I realise how much work and travelling I will have to do to get my material up to scratch. The sheer number of acts hustling for spots on the open mic scene shocked me, there are LOADS. And they’re good.

I’ll be honest, I presumed that the open mic circuit would be filled by deluded, appalling wannabe comedians (the comedic equivalent of the awful X Factors auditions), but they’re not – most have solid acts and well written material.

Shit.

To get up to their standard takes a lot of work.

A LOT.

Not only stage time, but time spent writing, editing and honing material. I’m finding myself scrambling round, trying to book myself into comedy gigs (which takes time in itself) and not being totally happy because I haven’t enough time to work on stuff. I recently rewatched “Comedian“; a movie about Jerry Seinfeld starting from scratch again in comedy by ditching all of his old material. Watching someone like Seinfeld struggle to hone material was a big eye opener for me.

I’m dedicating a lot of work to comedy, to the detriment of everything else, including magic.

I’m still not too keen on having a magic stand up comedy act (which would kill two birds with one stone), as I still think that learning pure stand up will teach me more performance skills that if I do magic tricks. Doing pure stand up feels like I’ms paying my dues; just like the other 6,372 acts.

I’m not totally giving up on stand up as I still enjoy it, but I’m not going to be able to give it as much time as I have done. I think it’s highly unlikely that it’s a viable career option for me, but as a skill set it offers a confidence in performing, in a world without magic props, so would love to keep my hand in with some regular local performances, but I really need to concentrate on being a magician.

I still can’t work out if comedy is something that I’m completely and utterly passionate about, or whether it’s one of those “bucket list” things that I just needed to do to say “been there, done that”. The ADHD side of me means that I have sporadic interests in lots of different things (which can be great fun!), so we’ll see if I get comedy withdrawal symptoms. If I do, feel free to pop round with a fix of jeers and blank lifeless stares.

By the way, this isn’t a maudlin post, just a realisation for me of how easily distracted I can become and how, sometimes, it’s important to keep your eye on your work/life balance. I guess what I’m trying to say is…

…I’m 38 years old. I should probably grow up.

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