Up The Creek 1

Winning a stand up comedy contest in Greenwich while sitting down

Or #Canyoubeattheblackout?

“You’ve got to be in it to win it” is one saying and “It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts” is another.

But what if in this strange Covid-land all the rules have changed?

Comedy Central comedy
Make way for the real comedy ( “COMEDY CENTRAL UK” by STEVENJOHNSELLER is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Up The Creek 2
I thanked the academy but never expected to win a comedy award (Picture courtesy of Paul Green)
Comedian crisps
Do you remember the days when some of the ‘nation’s favourite comedians’ were the faces of crisps for Comic Relief? (
“walkers ‘red nose day’ comedy crisps” by osde8info is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

It seems that this might be the case because within the past week I won a stand up comedy competition while sitting down.

Yes, I won a stand up competition without taking part in the contest.

It was my first time back at Up the Creek in Greenwich since lockdown back in March 2020 so I was excited and ready for a good night.

Sitting in my pre-assigned seat while the bar staff walked round in plastic face shields it obviously wasn’t 100% like it used to be. But it was as close to a feeling that things could be back to normal one day (I say ‘one day’ because I’m writing this before Boris Johnson makes an announcement about whether the pandemic rules can be lifted on June 21).

So, if you’ll let me take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the winner of The Blackout comedy night.

There were 16 new or fairly new comedians on the bill with their job to try and not get voted off by the time their four minutes is up, so effectively beating the blackout.

With them being fairly new it isn’t usually the done thing to heckle them.

Tragedy and Comedy
Not a picture from Up the Creek – apparently this is a mosaic depicting theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy, from the 2nd century AD (“Mosaic depicting theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd century AD, from Rome Thermae Decianae (?), Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums” by Following Hadrian is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
C stands for comedy
C stands for comedy and also me realising this isn’t a piece with a lot of obvious pictures so I’m finding them on Creative Commons instead (“COMEDY CENTRAL UK” by STEVENJOHNSELLER is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Ed Byrne at Amnesty Secret Policemen show 02
This picture is of comedian Ed Byrne launching the first of Amnesty International’s Secret Comedy Podcasts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 – and it epitomises why I’m not a fan of comedian podcasts (“Secret Comedy Podcast 11 – 2 August 2013” by Amnesty International UK is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

And heckling one of them wasn’t something I planned to do – but it’s what happened.

I cannot remember the act’s name but I can remember his face as he was talking about funfairs at the side of motorways. It was supposed to be a joke but no-one laughed.

When he pondered whether that was because there were a lot of funfair fans in I shouted out “Blackheath sometimes has a funfair” (the comedy club was in Greenwich so it was very local humour) and everyone laughed.

The comedian tried to win people back on his side rather than mine by asking “Have you ever been?” and I said “I’ve walked past”

It’s factually true cos the last time I was in Blackheath there was a funfair but I just walked past.

My heckle was judged (by the compere) to be the funniest heckle he’d ever heard in all his years of doing comedy so I was in the running to win comedian of the night.

And then, as luck would have it, the real winner had gone home before the end so they gave the award to me.

As Charlie Sheen would say (at least in the olden days) – “Winning”.

Charlie Sheen is a big fan of winning
Fred Barber should have been the wiinner of the comedy award

Years ago I won a chest hair competition during an Adam Riches comedy set and more recently I provided the laughs with some well-timed heckles when a comedian was doing performance poetry at the Colonel Fawcett in North London.

But I’d never won an award until now. Am I now allowed to call myself an award winning comedian?

Some people say I should try stand up properly but I think for the jokes to truly work someone has to really want to do it.

They have to want to do it when they are driving through the wind and the rain to get to a pub in the middle of nowhere where five people are watching but no-one is listening.

They have to want to do it when they have got booed off stage five nights in a row.

They have to want to do it when their manager says they need to do a podcast because every comedian is doing a podcast even though they know the problem with podcasts is everyone is doing them.

Davina Bentley was one of the runners up
This is the only recent clip of Hatty Preston (she also got an honourable mention on the night) I could find. Sadly it is a video of a recording of a podcast

I did like the applause when I made a speech (after the microphones had been switched off so I had to shout like a classy brother-in-law at a wedding), thanking the academy obvs.

But for now I think I’ll leave it to the professionals because the main thing I learned from The Blackout is the standard of comedy is high at the moment and I’d be especially keen to see the likes of Fred Barber, Hatty Preston and Davina Bentley go on to great things.

Stay safe for another week!

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