I write this post as I got into trouble again last night whilst filming my latest video. After last weeks recognition of my evolution as an artist. This week I was to consider how I am evolving as a comedian. What started out as a vlog contained to in my flat spontaneously became a road trip to haunted locations at midnight. We got pulled over by the police and I decided it was for the best to not risk being out any longer.
It is not the first time I have been in trouble whilst making comic work. I was stopped midway through this video too. Which I again decided to work into the final piece.
And I was also stopped by security in a library whilst dressed as a mime and was shushing people in there. This was unfortunately not filmed.
But it got me to thinking that I think that there is something in me that strives for danger. Being near the precipice and being creative. I think that one day when I am more successful I will create a lot of headaches for my publicist.
I think that that is what attracts me to clowning. That it is anarchic. I think it speaks to something deep within me. And I think as I learn more of the world around me and my understanding of myself and my place in it this anarchic edge will continue to grow. I have often mused as to how many comics actually find their own creations funny and laugh at them as I often do when editing. But now I ponder whether or not other comics find their output as exciting as I do. I feel like I have unlocked through clowning a side of myself which is unexplored and dangerous which I think artists should strive for.
(However I do intend on doing another experiment tomorrow, which I am hopeful about.)
So I was left on Thursday with no video recorded and not able to record a new one. Or at least felt unable to output a work to a standard I was happy with. I looked through an old hard drive as I do have a few videos that I have recorded in advance that have not yet been put out. These were all filmed before the lockdown however I feel my output should be informed by the lockdown to be properly effective at the moment.
On the hard drive not only did I find the old files but a fully edited video that I hadn’t published online. Result! But upon watching it I felt that it FELT old. In all stages of production it was 2 years old. In terms of content it was fine but I just did not feel like I could put it out. So I made the decision to re-edit the whole video from the ground up.
It was really nice to be able to see how far I’d come comedically and also in terms of my online output and style. It also made me think about how I feel that I am evolving as an artist and it is a constant slow march. I also think that it is good to allow yourself to evolve slowly but also to allow change that is informed by the real world and your relation to it. Which is something I would encourage all comics and artists to do.
I hope to never stop evolving as an artist and keep on striving to be better.
There is a couple of reasons for my break from the website: Firstly I changed up what I do and spent a while finding my voice rebranding myself as an improviser solo comic clown act which has been equally freeing and constricting. It is freeing in it allows me to be much more creative than I feel i was in my previous output. But restricting in terms of clear direction in an industry that wants to pigeon hole you in order to market you in a stand up dominated industry.
Secondly I went to university to do a masters in contemporary performance practice at Salford university which partly inspired my change of direction. Learning of the craft of performance in more specific and investigatory ways has allowed me to create work in exciting ways which I am excited about.
A further thing that I would say is that as part of my research I found links between comic performance and my own mental health. This has set me to approach comedy in a much different way as I think that it is no coincidence that the trope of the sad clown is so prevalent in pop culture especially after the suicide of Robin Williams proclaimed by some to be the funniest man to have ever lived. I feel I am still on this journey and am hoping to eventually study a PhD that investigates this link and hopefully will go on to inform mental health in the comic arts and in parallel comic arts in mental health.*
A further thing that came from my study of contemporary theatre allowed me to more effectively collaborate and create collaborative work. Something which I think my previous direction as a stand up comic made my mindset much harder to overcome creative logistical blocks. My latest thing I have been working on is an online travel series called ‘Tom visits…’ on youtube.
*if you are interested in reading any of the research from my masters I have published lots of articles and portfolios on macpptomshort.wordpress.com and have some upcoming articles to be published for the academic journal ‘Comedy studies’ in association with my academic collaborator and mentor Dr Ian Wilkie.