I think most people in a tight spot have comforted themselves with the thought ‘at least this will make a good anecdote.’ To be clear, when I say tight spot I mean something awkward but ultimately cute and inconsequential like vomiting on a Tinder date, or saying ‘orgasm’ instead of ‘organism’ in class, not being the victim of a horrific crime. But riddle me this, do you ever actively put yourself into awkward or unusual situations just for the resulting anecdote? Then you, my friend, might be a comedian.
You don’t have to be a comedian to act this way, but it helps. We all do it, for instance I worked in a sex boutique (what’s the difference between a sex show and a sex boutique? I think the difference is we played nothing but a smooth jazz cover of The Girl From Ipanema on repeat. A sex shop will play local radio) purely because I thought it would be funny. And I needed the money. However, it was my stint as an ordinary clothes shop assistant that I got the most material (see what I did there?) out of.
That’s the funny thing, sometimes you can mine more from the mundane than the fantastical. It’s why so many hilarious things genuinely happen to comedians on their way to gigs, honest. I asked comedians on Twitter what they’d done for the material and I wasn’t disappointed.
In the name of comedy comedian and author Rosie Wilby has “Taken part in sex research. To be fair though, getting paid to watch porn wasn’t the worst day.”
Funny Women Awards one to watch Bryony No: “I joined girl guides UK in part for material, I’d never been in brownies or anything so I thought it’d be hilarious like a Louis Theroux documentary but its turned out to be quite sweet and touching like a Louis Theroux documentary.”
Comedian and author Samantha Baines: “I agreed to go on a date with a guy front the front row of a comedy gig that I’d chatted to throughout the show but then he said he didn’t want to meet due to “location restrictions”. I think I nearly went on a date with a conservative MP.”
There are some comedians who make great sacrifices in the name of comedy, Jenan Younis “read Stacey Dooley’s best selling book. 4 hours of my life I shall never get back. However the content comprises a substantial portion of my current show.”
Comedian and Funny Women social media manager Mariana Feijo said: “… when I have doubts about whether I should really do some things, I always think ‘worst case scenario, I’ll get material!’. The most recent example is the sex party I went to and I’ve been working on a set about it .”
2017 Funny Women Awards regional finalist Laura Byrne shared that she has “been tweeting Hollyoaks every day since January 1st asking for a part on the show because I figured if it works it’ll make one hell of an Ed Fringe show.”
Sometimes the hunt for material doesn’t work out, as comedian Ania Magliano found out: “It was the main thing that got my through the awkwardness of my first STI test and I didn’t even have anything. Gutted.”
While the promise of new material has made 2019 Funny Women Awards nominee Isa Bonachera see things through to the bitter end: “I don’t do things for the material on purpose, but if I find myself in a bad situation, I don’t leave until I get some funny out of it. I have stayed in bad tourist attractions, bad dates, bad night outs, bad restaurants, etc.”
Some people go to extremes for material. Comedian Sameena Zehra shared that she’s “still on speaking terms with my mother” but I think comedian Sarah Mann might have them all beaten, going above and beyond with “joined the army”.
If you find yourself in a tight spot this week, comedian Wendy Wason has a calming mantra for you: “I have had a word with myself along the lines of ‘just get through this and one day it will be a bit’.”