In the U.K., stand-up comedy is currently dead. Like Python’s parrot, it “wouldn’t move if you put 4,000 volts through it!”
That’s not strictly true. Our government has just stumped up 1.57 billion pounds ($1.97 billion) to support the arts that were slammed shut by the crisis. Comedy is never thought of as an art form and stands (the irony) little chance of getting any help. Scores of clubs across the country may completely close for good. No laughs in that!
Comics, unlike ballerinas, opera singers, and actors, were consistently being pestered to do charity gigs. A half-billion-pound industry grew out of one club that started the whole shebang in London in 1979: The Comedy Store.
OK, how do I parley this into a column about MS?
Yup, that’s a toughie. How about this:
I’ve been involved at the coal face (hey, some jokes are filthy!) of live comedy for the entire 40 years of my working life, the last 10 years as someone with MS.
It’s undoubtedly true that many industries see themselves as inclusive, but mine truly was. The Comedy Store did everything to adapt to my increasing disability. In the end, the doormen pushed me around everywhere, and the venue even found a way to get me into the sound booth in a wheelchair. I got to crash the lights to a blackout (sparingly, mind you). It’s amazing what laughs you can engender by a touch of the old theater!
In comedy, everyone is a target, at least backstage. It’s inclusive. We all tease each other about our various races, creeds, sexuality, and disabilities — and the many combinations of all of these. Possess all four and you get a grant!
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