"Deegan has a mature confidence in his abilities" - Chortle
"Charming, witty and most importantly funny" - Metro
"Blisteringly funny comedy that left us all breathless and aching" - BSH Magazine
Danny Deegan is coming to the 2013 Edinburgh festival
- the time he got arrested in Kuala Lumpur whilst travelling back from Australia;
- why he had to leave Australia in the first place;
- how he was innocently caught with a prostitute in his car; and
- how he convinced his friend Rob he was on Operation Yewtree’s radar.
|1st||August||5:15 PM||Laughing Horse @ Jekyll and Hyde||Edinburgh|
The Busiest & The Loneliest
Comedy, Crete & Cougars
People are always amazed when I tell them I'm a comedian. It's actually one of my favourite things about being a comedian, apart from the actual half hour on stage of course!
Sat ready for take off to do my shows in Crete last month, two lovely cougars sat next to me, from Australia. I won't bore you with the details about why they were from Australia, taking off from Gatwick to go to Crete because I was, but needless to say, we got chatting. To cut a long story short, they asked what I did and when I told them, I felt very proud. They were gobsmacked. Probably because the previous 10 minutes of chatting had provided them with no amusement whatsoever, but hey, it was my day off.
Being a comedian is the best job in the world for me. I love people knowing what I do. I don't ram it down people's throats, but if they ask I tell them, because I'm sure (apart from most people's huge fear of talking on their own to huge groups of people), most people would love to spend their days thinking of funny things, reading the news and watching telly, and then spending their evenings in comedy clubs chatting to audience members who want to congratulate you, or chat to you about your job and your life. It's a very frenetic life, but I love it.
The tough days in Egypt before the shows
In the last month alone I've done my first solo hour show at Brighton Festival to a packed room, two shows in Egypt, a show in Crete, hosted a big show at Spinnaker Tower, appeared 7 times on radio, hosted an awards dinner, written for two other comedians, been to two castings in London, recorded some voiceovers for radio, written 4 articles for the newspapers, as well as starting writing my first book, and on top of that travelled about 6000 miles around this fair isle performing from Plymouth to Birmingham. All whilst trying to keep the house and children in order you understand, now that Mrs A has gone and got herself a job - how selfish :)
A crowd of 300 people laughing at what you're doing on stage is the most amazing feeling in the world. More and more these days as I write better things, and deliver my material in more natural ways, I am stood on stage waiting for the laughter to die down. Now THAT is an even better feeling. I soak it up. I maybe take a second drink of my beer, laugh with them, watch them. It's something I never thought would happen. Getting a laugh is a terrific instant feeling of satisfaction when you get a joke right, but having to actually wait for them to stop. An awesome feeling.
What most people don't realise though is that you are, without a doubt, completely alone. Even with the biggest laughs and applause.
I drive 200 miles to do a show, wait in the back room of the theatre, arts centre, club, or even at the back of the function room, and you are on your own. Even on stage you are on your own. For those five or ten minutes when you walk out to into the club after your performance, it can feel very hectic (presuming the show's gone well), when people all want to talk to you (but obviously if it goes badly then you definitely feel alone!!) and then you walk out into the dead of night to your car, and drive the 200 miles home, alone.
Comedians pass in the night, and familiar faces meet up at random shows here and there. Acquaintances and sometimes friends. Factor in their time on stage though and your time on stage, and even when you do a show together you generally only have time for a half hour catch up.
It's a strange life, albeit a blessed one. Every day something crazy is happening. I now write a few articles for local papers and magazines, as well as my weekly radio spot. I regularly supply comedians for clubs and private functions, and run two big comedy clubs myself, as well as the 15-20 shows I perform at myself every month. Life is definitely busy. The busiest.
In the morning I get up with the boys usually by 7am, even if I've got in at 2am from a show, and get them ready, fed and their packed lunches sorted for school. We then walk the 1.5 miles to school and I get back and rediscover the house, from the brief moment the boys have had that morning to cover every surface in Cocopops, toys, and strewn pyjama remnants, and I then start generally keeping on top of the house, with the usual dishwasher, washing machine, and hoovering tasks. In amongst this I am writing, booking, and responding to comedy demands, and promoting myself and my clubs through blogs, newsletters, emails, phone calls and texts. Then it's off to the school once more, and the boys light up my day, once again, converting the house's previous 6 hours of emptiness and quiet to that of a playzone in 20 seconds flat. I make their tea, and then get ready to go out to the show just as Mrs A returns from work, usually.
It's crazy but great. I get a good balance of time with the boys and the wife, as she usually has two days off a week as well as weekends for us to spend time together, and the boys and I have the school runs and brief time either side to play football, and watch the all important Simpsons and Phineas & Ferb.
But, you HAVE to enjoy your own company in this business. I think that's why a lot of comedians are absolutely mental. Famous or otherwise. 80% of your life, maybe more, is spent completely alone - even though my life outside comedy is full-on with family, a large portion of it in the daytime is on my own.
Even when you're on stage. Even when you're in a service station at 3 in the morning. No work colleagues. No friends. No real regular companions. Not that you get with the 9 to 5 job, anyway. It's a solitary life, but the intense euphoria of making so many people laugh, as long as you gig regularly enough and successfully enough, keeps you going. Show me a comedian who lives on his own, and hasn't gigged for a week, and I'll show you a very miserable soul.
That's why I am so blessed and lucky to have this job AND have a family as amazing as I do.
My life is ridiculously busy most of the time, even when I'm completely alone, but it all helps because the comedy is going so well....but when it doesn't, and I have a rough, tough night, I get home in the early hours of the morning and find my wonderful family sleeping soundly, and I know that it doesn't really matter, because I'm home with Team Alderson... and everyone has a bad day at the office, sometimes.
Just my office has a stage, a spotlight, a microphone and 200 people listening.
I've made it Mum!
I'm currently sat in a Premier Inn in Newton Abbott. I've made it Mum!
I decided that seeing as I am currently gigging for a number of nights in the South West, a good 4 hours hours from home, that I would take the leap and grab a few nights in a hotel to avoid all the driving.
Premier Inn guarantee a good night's sleep, which is lucky, because the funfair in the next car park doesn't. I could hear the thud of music so I went down to reception, as because I was on the other side of the hotel, I couldn't actually see the funfair from my room, so presumed it was some knob'ed next door playing loud music and shouting 'scream if you wanna go faster!'.
She said she would take me to 'their quietest room', presuming I was a trouble maker I guess, and as she opened the hotel room door, the window curtains were open and the room was filled with the neon glow of the funfair, and a perfect framed view of their ferris wheel. It was a classic moment, and we both laughed. I say 'we', I mean that I laughed enough for both of us...so I've kept to my own room.
Some sneaky twat also decided that although this is obviously a non-smoking hotel, having a crafty fag in the bathroom is fine, and clearly couldn't be bothered to walk for 30 seconds to get outside and smoke.
Thank god my only addiction is chocolate. The day they ban KitKat chunkies from hotels is the day I'll start eating them in the shower I guess!!
Anyway, I've been thinking whilst I've been sat in my room, watching Pretty Woman, and trying to eat a Pot Noodle with a teaspoon, how crazy my life has become. I used to have a normal career, probably like you reading this, and now I drive to a show, and make people laugh, and drive home to bed. So much relies on being on form and not having an off day.
When I was in a standard 'career' for want of a better explanation of this job, if I had an off day, like anyone, I would hide behind the monitor, spend longer amounts of time in the loo, hang out chatting by the vending machine more and take an extra 10 minutes for lunch to drag out the time NOT spent at work. You can hide an off day at work very easily in a normal job.
Even in the sales environments I regularly worked in, if you had an off day, or week, or even month, your track record meant you could cruise through a tough few days. I'm not talking about being rubbish, I'm just talking about being 'off'. You know those days where you can't quite put your finger on it but you feel unconnected, and not 'with it', is the best way to describe it.
I've read most comedians biographies in recent years, and almost all of them have touched on this subject. The time in the wings of a stage where you just don't feel pumped. A little empty and 'floaty' - disconnected. Obviously in an office, its the day you think Steve is being an arse, or that Julie must be having her time of the month, or that Clive is 'keeping himself to himself' today. Its the times when you wish you COULD fix how you feel, because you can't think of anything making you feel that way. Not depressed or miserable, just a little vague.
Being a stand up comic means that no matter what your mood, you can't show it on stage. I've had to perform when my wife's been 150 miles away in hospital, and when I've just had a call saying one of my young sons has really hurt himself. Last week, literally the minute before I went on stage, I thought I had lost my phone. To anyone that would be quite distracting, but to me it not only has all my numbers on, but all my promoter and comedian contacts and emails, and all my jokes and ideas. Just as the MC for the night was warming up the applause and laughter and starting to introduce me, I suddenly realised I'd left it in the toilet, rushed in there, and found it, and rushed out to get on stage in time. These are every day things that happen in life, but when you add the fact that you have to go out and stand in front of (often) 100s of people and make them laugh, it really can make you realise how focussed you have to be to get your job done.
You switch your brain, and the minute you enter that spotlight the game is on. You are the person the audience want you to be. Whether its a student audience, an older eclectic mix, or army squaddies I'm not James Alderson father of 2 boys and wonderful understanding wife, who has just driven 3 hours and is worried he might have lost his car keys, I'm whoever the guy is that they can most relate to, to get them laughing: and that for most part is because for those next 30 minutes, the promoter and the comedians are deciding if you are good.
It's like the time you had hit all your targets and been voted employee of the month, and then they ask you to do an acceptance speech and you cock it up and then they think 'actually you know what? I think we made the wrong decision, please give us back the bonus/trophy/badge'.
Like in any industry, though, you earn some respect, and some foundation within the comedy scene of being a good/average/great/awful act, and there is a general opinion underlying the circuit of what act is which description. But the horrible cliche - you are only as good as.... - is still true. Never more so in an industry where your whole day culminates in 20-30 minutes in the spotlight.
Throw in this bizarre feeling of disconnection that you can't put your finger on, the minute you are meant to be pumped and on fire to get the comedy club whooping, and you can find yourself in trouble. As I said, I've read all the major acts have experienced this, and let's be honest, if the right chemicals arent popping at the right time, much like when you love a person but just can't get the 'urge' to get busy with them, then it's all going to fall flat and the night will quickly fizzle out.
What I find most frustrating though is that the crowd often don't notice. I'd almost like it more when these 1/20 occurrences happen they came over and said 'you didnt quite seem on the ball tonight - funny, but just not in the zone', but instead they say 'nice one - you're funny!', and I think 'yeah thanks - thats lucky!'. I don't want to be funny. I want to be bloody hilarious, but the crowd leave thinking James Alderson (or Lee Mack, Peter Kay, Sean Lock...whoever it hits) was OK. I've been to see some big comics, and even gigged with some relatively big comics and thought...'yeah. I've seen him better..' and that could be for various factors, but to me it's highly likely he was having an 'off' day.
It's easy to convince yourself you've lost your mojo of course.
I've had an amazing year so far, and even in the last week I've been booked for 17 different shows throughout the UK, so I really feel buzzing, but amongst all of that, last night I remember standing to the side of the stage, and as I got introduced I felt like I was walking into a birthday party, and I was holding the cake. That somehow the centre of attention wasn't me, it was something else infront of me. Now I never get nervous, never. Anxious sometimes in big gigs because I want to make sure I do my best, and impress and give everyone a good night, but never nervous. This occasion last night (which has probably happened 5 times before), I did my set, and got laughs and some ripples of applause in places, but I came off and felt lack lustre. Don't get me wrong, the crowd and room, and various other elements weren't ideal, and once again no one would know that I was having an off day. I just felt I was disconnected, and it became apparent to me during my set. Which is the worse part.
For a comedian, having a relatively bad gig is something that can haunt you if you let it. Which I don't (apart from talking about it through a 500 word blog article!) - we've all felt times when we've lost our Mojo...and that it might not come back.
You have a bad gig (or one that isn't up to scratch, I should say, and certainly not up to your own standards!) and you can easily convince yourself that it's all over. I've had a brilliant run of awesome gigs this year, and as I typed this earlier today I thought I'm sure this is a glitch, because I could identify that being away from the family and stuck in a Premier Inn in Newton Abbott can mess with one's mind and surely that was having a negative effect on my psyche - that or the fag smells wafting out from behind the shower curtain.
Then I accidentally deleted the blog I was writing about the gig and my 'mojo' and now I am back from the next night's gig where I could have floated on the stage all night, and wished I could have been allowed another 15 minutes (on top of my opening 25 minutes) as I was having a blast. Similar room, similar demographic to the previous night, just the way I was feeling had moved on.
It certainly is strange. It's something we all experience: off days. Luckily mine come along very sparingly and it's not something you can always identify until it's too late, but yesterday reminded me that in comedy you really do have to hide so many emotions, whether they are at the front of your conscious mind or really deep routed, that you can't even put your finger on. You have to hide whatever emotion you feel so that 100s of others can feel one emotion - happiness.
I absolute love my new career, and touch wood (or wood veneer desk, with some questionable staining) I am having a blast.
I can't even imagine where the next 12 months are going to take me, these last few months have been moving so fast, but rest assured...19 out of 20 appearances, I am buzzing to get on the stage. The other 1 out of 20 I'll probably be hiding it so well you'll just think I'm funny, rather than bloody hilarious!..and one thing's for sure...my mojo is staying.
Now...I'm off to get some shut eye with these new Premier Inn Cozzzy pillows. They don't feel that great, but who am I to argue with their marketing gurus ??