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Do you get nervous? It's a question lots of non-performers ask people in our line of work, and I'll be honest my answer is usually no, in fact I find it weird when performers ARE nervous! If we flipped it around to a normal day to day job, it would be like a plumber having a cold sweat becuase they are about to fit a new toilet. The only reason we are ever nervous is a fear of the unknown. But last night... I WAS nervous.

For years I have always finished my show in the same, or a very similar way, getting the audience up on their feet and having a dance to Teenage Dirtbag. It works. It's fun. People like the song. Kids like the song too. It ticks all the boxes. But there is a problem! I'm not a teenager anymore, and my show, not to mention my face (particularly the lines on my forehead) reflect that.

Performing Teenage Dirtbag

So my options were simple.

  1. Keep the finale. Get some botox. Pretend I am still a teenager.

  2. Change it.

I decided to change it. In fact over the past couple of years the whole show has changed quite dramatically. I talk about my kids in the show, I joke about parenthood, my ADHD, my marriage and more. It's a proper personal show, which quite simply wouldn't work for anyone else. Now I never got nervous about adding in those things, because I don't remember ever adding them in. I think they just sort of happened. A show is like a skeleton, when you write it, and then it starts fleshing out with bits and pieces over time, until eventually, it's not just a skeleton and a body, but it finally finds it's personality. Your personality! But, none of that stuff was ever 'written', it just ended up existing in the universe of the show... And then there was this generic ending, which I liked, because it 'worked'.

But whilst the show has become more enjoyed by audiences who can relate to the whole parenthood thing and the jokes in the about that, I thought maybe they found the finale to be a bit generic too... They also enjoyed it, but it becomes something more of a tagged on bit, than a 'real' part of the show.

A magic show about being a Dad!

I wanted to write a finale for the jaded parents. They've spent all day with their kids running about, on a beach, swimming in the pool and spending a small fortune in the arcades, to finally sit down with an ice cold drink and watch a show where a giant fluffy snail (I've picked this so as not to incriminate any holiday park in particular) sings nursery rhymes, and people dance about like lunatics, in the hope to keep the kids away from their parents for an hour or so. I wanted my show to be for the parents, who are sick of watching kids shows, whilst still able to entertain the children too.

I often see other family entertainers write that they have a show for the kids, but lots of lines for the adults that go over the kids heads. But as far as I'm concerned, that's still a kids show. My show is the opposite. It's a parent show, aimed at people who are sick of watching the giant fluffy snail, and want someone to come on stage and entertain THEM, with a few lines for the kids here and there. So at the end of last season I decided that I would write a new finale. Something. I'd like to watch myself as an audience member, as I am very aware, that I am the target demographic of exactly those audience members. And so I wrote something. Something relatable and nostalgic, and it got longer, and longer and longer, until it was 7 minutes long (a huge percentage of a 45 minute show!). I began writing this 'bit' in November 2023 and finished it in January 2024!

So why was I nervous?

Well writing new material from scratch is a bit scary and kind of a big deal, especially when it is a large portion of the show. You've not had the 'flight time' with it, and you don't know if the audience are going to go with it or not! What I think is funny in my lounge, or with a couple of friends over a coffee, might not play at all well in a crowded venue.

Last nights 45 minute show contained 2 new routines, which amount to be around 9 minutes of the show! Thats a massive 20% of mew material, with 7 minutes of it being my finale. Writing a new finale is especially terrifying. It's the bit that the audience leave remembering, so to do something entirely new, something no one else is doing, and not knowing if it is going to work or not is really scary! you can't change what you are going to do during it, and 7 minutes is a really long time if something isn't working.

Fortunately both new bits went well, and I was delighted with the audience participation in the finale. I think it's time to leave Teenage Dirtbag to singing in my car on the way to gigs, and at to enjoy 7 minutes of brand new finale for the 2024 season!

And if you want to know what that 7 minutes is... Well you'll just have to come along to see the show sometime!

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