There’s No Business Like Show Business — Till There’s No Business

There’s No Business Like Show Business — Till There’s No Business
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In June, I wrote a column about accepting I’d have to physically retire from directing and producing my own stand-up stage show, “The Edge.”

Now, because of that which cannot be named, the show is also being retired just short of its 30-year anniversary!

Our very first photo from July 10, 1990’s “The Cutting Edge.” From left, Nick Revell, Mark Thomas, John Connor, Richard Morton, Kevin Day, Bob Boyton. (Courtesy of The Comedy Store)

OK, what has this got to do with multiple sclerosis?

Well, my reaction turned out to be far more emotional than it was for my own retirement. I don’t know if it’s the effect of MS on my brain or all my years of being a luvvie. Indubitably, it’s a bit of both.

A performer who’s been in the show for 28 years just phoned me. He’s famed for his lack of emotion. When he started thanking me and talking effusively about the show, I burst into tears. He got off the phone immediately. True to himself to the very end. I believed him, though, when he said he’d do anything for me. Except talk to me while I was blubbering!

I also wonder if my determination to do the show somehow held back my MS. When I realized it would be years before there was a vaccine (or indeed, never), I relaxed. The drive and adrenaline that coursed through me long before the affliction of MS just fell away.

As a science nerd, I doubt this is true. But as a hapless romantic …

Hey, that part of my life was over.

I left journalism nearly 30 years ago, and now I find myself tip-tapping away, admittedly with just my left hand! I throw in the right for the occasional ampersand (&). There, I did it! My occupational therapist will be proud. It’s a good exercise for my neuropathic right arm. I can’t always do it! Of course, I now have saved versions of the majority of things I need on a separate Word document.

Coming off my disease-modifying therapy, Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), last December was undoubtedly the cause of my recent relapses. (I’ve had two since then.) As I’ve pontificated many times, the therapy was holding back the relapses, though with its destruction of leukocytes, it was also threatening me with brain cancer.

Luckily, my neurologist made the correct clinical choice. I probably wouldn’t have.

So, I had to write a goodbye missive. Well, I didn’t, but because I created the show for artistic reasons rather than for the lucre, it behooved me to do it. It was fitting that I said goodbye, as I’d been the one to say hello!

The comedians didn’t just do the show for pay, either.

Stand-up regular Jarred Christmas, who’s been part of my show for 10 years, said: “Some of the best shows I was involved in were to smaller audiences, which showed that we all loved the show. It wasn’t just about the money. … The backstage banter and camaraderie will never be forgotten. There really is no show quite like ‘The Edge.'”

Plaudits flooded in. Another thing that has pushed me fittingly over the edge.

Let me leave you with one of the funniest things that happened at the show. It became a backstage legend.

Comic Ian Stone, who did 20-something years in the show, explained. John Fothergill, a comic with about 10 years in the show, was the judge in Bus Stop, a knockout game in which one comic judges the gags of other comics who are lined up behind the microphone and have to connect to the joke of the previous performer. “He takes a life from Kitty Flanagan and says, ‘Kitty loses a life because I don’t think she gave our relationship enough of a chance.’ And we are all cracking up because they’d recently split.”

One of the show’s funniest moments, at least for us. Shows my influence. I was on holiday!

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Addendum: Our very last podcast is online. You can listen here. I’m at the end, throwing in a variety of references that an awful lot of U.K. listeners won’t even understand, so don’t feel left out! I was shocked at what MS has done to my speaking voice! Maybe it improves when I’m drunk?

A backstage photo of the last “The Edge” show I was in, on Feb. 11, 2020. From left, Ria Lina, Roger Monkhouse, Alistair Barrie, Luke Toulson, Paul Thorne, and Sean Meo. Sitting, obviously, is John Connor. (Courtesy of The Comedy Store)

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

‘In 1982 John Connor was a stand up, sketch writer & journalist – crap at all three he decided whilst watching a man performing with a paper bag on his head that as nobody else was going to write about stand up he would’. ‘Comics’ Papermac 1990. In 2009 John Connor was diagnosed with MS. In 2017 John Connor still produces/directs his own live 27 year old resident topical comedy show at London’s Comedy Store – ‘The Cutting Edge’. He was also a leading UK Casting Director specialising in comedy – including one of the hippest shows ‘Black Books’ [double BAFTA winning Situation Comedy Award] & for at least a decade the biggest sitcom on British TV ‘My Family’. TV & MS was a step too far – and we know how hard any step can be. Luckily his satirical show was a built in part time job & with the election of Trump is now in the zeitgeist. John now writes “Fall Down Get Up Again” – an irreverent journey with MS.
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‘In 1982 John Connor was a stand up, sketch writer & journalist – crap at all three he decided whilst watching a man performing with a paper bag on his head that as nobody else was going to write about stand up he would’. ‘Comics’ Papermac 1990. In 2009 John Connor was diagnosed with MS. In 2017 John Connor still produces/directs his own live 27 year old resident topical comedy show at London’s Comedy Store – ‘The Cutting Edge’. He was also a leading UK Casting Director specialising in comedy – including one of the hippest shows ‘Black Books’ [double BAFTA winning Situation Comedy Award] & for at least a decade the biggest sitcom on British TV ‘My Family’. TV & MS was a step too far – and we know how hard any step can be. Luckily his satirical show was a built in part time job & with the election of Trump is now in the zeitgeist. John now writes “Fall Down Get Up Again” – an irreverent journey with MS.

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One comment

  1. RCG says:

    Please continue on with your zingers and puns! You may not appear in a show but you can continue to bring smiles to the world around you. 😎

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