It’s been two years since I did my last full comedy show Where are you really, really from? at Leicester Comedy festival. That night was meant to be the start of my previews for Edinburgh Fringe 2020. Leicester is a diverse city and it was great to see at least a third of the audience being of colour. This prompted and encouraged me to add words in Urdu where I could have a private joke with the people of colour, yet not excluding the rest of the audience. I loved being on stage where I could see people who looked like me, we could laugh together and feel included.
The nerves percolate in my heart and the bubble of excitement grows as I get ready to go on stage
We all have a choice in how we view what happens to us, lockdown and the pandemic affected us all in very different ways. I am an inherently positive person and took full advantage of the fact that I now had my weekends free. I did not have to have to travel, for anywhere up to four hours as in the past, for a 10-minute set, getting paid just enough to cover my time and travel.
I found myself spending more time on social media and made new friends from all over the world. It’s amazing how friendships developed with people I am very unlikely to ever meet in person. However, these friendships led to me doing comedy gigs online in places as far as Canada, India, South Africa and Japan, as well the ones in the British Isles.
People were setting up different online shows, some with very specific topics and I loved writing to the themes chosen. Menopause seemed to be the flavour of the year, and ever since Davina McCall made her video about it, Men-o-pause, a pause in men, seemed to be the hot topic. I was thrilled to be asked to do a comedy set for the Menopause Cafe online! The best thing about performing online is that anyone anywhere in the world can log on and see you perform. The world became a very small place, talking about a subject important to half the world’s population.
Now that society is beginning to open up again and comedy is back to being performed live, what happens to those online shows, to those new friendships, to those themed nights?
I want to keep a hybrid model going. Yes, I love being on stage, to see the whites of the eye, the black of the pupils dilate, the expectations on the faces of people thrilled to be back with other humans. The nerves percolate in my heart and the bubble of excitement grows as I get ready to go on stage – that is something that can’t be replaced. Yet I want to keep those new world friendships alive because one day, I might be lucky enough to perform in their local comedy club. Viva la world.
And if you are wanting to get back to some live performance I’d love you to come to see my comedy play Tickbox on 26 February at Edinburgh’s Audacious Women Festival and to share the joy of being back in a room together having fun.