Monday, 4 December 2017

Sticks (and Dicks) and Stones.

Last week, Steve Bennett from Chortle reviewed my show - the second time I’ve been graced with his presence - and once again I found myself on the receiving end of a write-up that's little more than a character assassination from a bully with a website.

At least this wasn’t my first run-in, so I knew what to expect, but it doesn’t make his flagrant nastiness much easier to take. I assume he'd argue that it’s par-for-the-course, but I think it truly isn’t, and it’s particularly galling to be subjected to such persistent, reiterative abuse from a man who didn’t even pay for his ticket.

My issue with his critique is there’s very little constructiveness to it. Since the rise of Simon Cowell this vicious, malicious, vindictive feedback has been in vogue, and all it does is destruct creativity; not enjoying someone’s work is one thing, but there’s no need to turn the knife. 

The last time he reviewed me, I was at the early stages of attempting stand-up alone after a decade of performing comedy as part of a double act. I was making tentative steps and was proud of myself for doing it, but I was under no illusions that I was breaking new ground, except for personally. I wasn’t in the best place psychologically, so his total annihilation of my material and ability literally floored me for a couple of months; what was supposed to be an achievement felt futile and pointless before the metaphorical ink the script had been written in had even dried; I felt like he’d turned my material against me by listing each of my stories in a wry tone, dismissing them one by one, removing the element of surprise in the process.

What's reassuring is I’m not the only comic to previously be deemed a waste of time by him so sneeringly: I clearly recall an early review of Nick Helm in which he dismissed him for just shouting bad jokes, to then give practically the same write-up with a four-star rating tagged to the end when the rest of the press caught on to Nick’s act. He also once described Barry From Watford’s material as “ancient jokes falling on stony ground”, which couldn’t be a better example of missing the point, which eventually became a punchline, in and of itself, that Bazza took to repeating to big laughs at his gigs.

While I’m frustrated to be in his cross-hairs again, I can now approach it with more strength. He doesn't know the true reason I invited him was less for the review, but more to remind myself that - while he once came close to making me throw in the towel - I’m still here fucking doing it.

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