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My Exciting Life In ROCK (part 3): My Exciting Life In Comedy (part one)
All the way through sixth form I was desperately looking forward to University. I thought it would be a place where Artistic Types would be free to be as fancy and/or poncey as they liked, a mass assemblage of poets and artistes, swapping high level chat over glasses of red wine and forging partnerships that, within weeks of graduation, would become the basis of a whole new generation of WRITERS.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when I found out it was exactly like school except with a bar actually INSIDE it. Mind you, maybe that's what you get when you end up at Leicester Polytechnic.
Undeterred... well, deterred a bit, I decided to have a go at acting out the lifestyle I'd read so much about in Monty Python and Comic Strip biographies, and began submitting sketches to the Rag Society. I thought that's what everybody would be doing, and would be constantly surprised of a Monday morning when I went to drop off my latest batch of (rather odd) comedy sketches in the Rag pigeon hole to find it completely empty. Little did I know that my drop-offs had become a bizarre source of excitement to the organising committee, and when they eventually met me they were rather taken aback to find out that I wasn't a crazed maniac with wild burning eyes and a life-expectancy measurable in days, but actually a rather quiet youth from Peterborough. Wearing a cardigan.
Still, they did use a couple of my sketches and through that I got more and more involved in the drama society, which was called The Poly Poor Theatre Company. It was the 1980s, that's the sort of name we used to give things back then.
I met loads of people through Poly Poor, directly and indirectly, many of whom I'm still best pals with now, including some who would be VITALLY IMPORTANT to me joining a band at all. At this point though I was still intent on becoming a comedian, like Ben Elton, so that, like Ben Elton, I could then move on to scriptwriting. At one point it seemed like this might actually HAPPEN, when I met a gentleman called Robert Rackstraw. Rak, as we all called him, is now, according to Wikipedia "one of the UK's leading male voice actors" and has been in LOADS of things you've actually heard of, like Bob The Builder, but back then he was just starting out, writing scripts and doing voices for local radio. He pretty much took me under his wing and gave me LOADS of advice on places to send my stuff too, and as a result of this I pretty quickly got a script accepted by BBC Manchester.
It was for a show starring the comedy legend Arthur Brown, and I even got to go up to Manchester one day for a brain-storming session. My main memory is that there was one, very pretty, actress who had LOTS of ideas which we all had to be very polite about, especially when she started doing extraordinarily dodgy, borderline racist, accents. I also had a try-out to write for an up and coming young presenter called Jonathan Ross, but for some reason (by that point, probably BEER) never sent back the scripts in time.
The trouble was that despite myself I'd had my eyes opened to a much more exciting life than just sitting in my bedsit with a typewriter. I'd FINALLY started drinking properly and had embarked on my lifelong love affair with BEER and PUBS and, through this, had realised that going out and having friends was a LOT more fun than typing snide jokes about people. Even better, I'd found a way to COMBINE this with my ongoing appreciation of SHOWING OFF. I had become a STAND UP COMEDIAN!
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