Yesterday was Day 2 of my self-imposed stint as a "professional" comedian. I put "professional" in inverted commas because I'm going into the coming months with plenty of realistic reservations - the principal reason for my abandoning my prior position as Operations Coordinator of the European Communication School London was not that I wanted to strike out in some defiant move in order to immediately make all my dreams come true, it was simply down to the fact that I had to make an executive decision between honouring my commitment to perform my new show at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival next week and being present for the Graduation Ceremony of ECS's 2012-13 contingent of students. Much as I'm proud of the students and everything they have achieved during my time with them, it was an easy decision and I remain Leicester-bound. But, that decision being made, it became clear that it was no longer possible for me to honour commitments to comedy and to a job as demanding and difficult as that at ECS. My brother Barney Norris (the thinking man's Joz Norris) has now taken over my role there, because an ancient prophecy states that if the role of ECS London Operations Coordinator is ever taken by someone outside the Norris family, the monarchy will fall. I'm dubious about it, but hey.
I spent my second day as a "free man," as I'm repeatedly being told I am now, as follows. I went to see a nutritionist and enjoyed a green tea and a spirulina and ginseng bounce ball and chatted to her extensively about meditation and the need to "flip the triangle" in order to achieve balance in one's life. I'm not going to divulge the details of that particular analogy to any of you, because otherwise that advice stops being precious. I then went back to work for a few hours just so I could wander around the office not doing any work in front of my boss and eating her biscuits without getting into trouble. She eventually told me that I was welcome to wander around not doing any work and eating biscuits as much as I wanted, but she wouldn't pay me for it, so I went to the library and wrote a sketch. That evening a woman took pictures of me wearing a dress and a bowler hat and trying to eat a silver-topped cane to promote a new cabaret night I'm helping to organise in March. Then I ate a Nando's at 10pm, which I've never done before. What I'm saying is, life as a freelance comedian is so far playing out exactly as I could ever have hoped it would have, and better.
I am genuinely proud of everything I, and more notably the students, achieved at that school and it's been very good to me, but there comes a time to really challenge oneself and see what you can achieve when you really give all you have to the thing you love. But here is not the place to talk about important things with sincerity. Rather, I'd like to bid farewell to my time at ECS by recounting one of my favourite anecdotes from my time there. In 2012, Guillaume, a square-headed young French fashionista with a natty jacket, knocks gingerly on the office door. "Madame Pflimlin, we do not have enough time to prepare these projects." He swallows audibly as Madame Pflimlin shoots him a withering gaze over her horn-rimmed specs. "All the teachers are setting us lengthy projects to work on, and there just isn't the time! We need an extension to prepare our work!" Madame Pflimlin, the most indomitable Alsatian (as in Alsace, not the breed of dog) I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, sighs and shakes her head and intones, as if it's the most natural thing in the world, "This is the way of things, Guillaume. Sometimes you only have three days to prepare for the birthday of the King." Many a lesson was learned that day.
As for me, I'll keep soldiering on for the foreseeable future. I've been busy lining up many projects over the coming weeks and months, all of which I'll report on here, and am excited about the prospect of giving all my time to the thing I really love and care about for a while. Naturally, I'm also aware that before long a need will arise for my services to be employed by some other institution in order to tide me over to the next rent day, so I've also decided to compile here a list of potential jobs I could get for myself when the rock 'n' roll lifestyle of the freelance comedian takes too much of a toll on me.
1. Headmaster of a School (Advantages: Have done this for the last two years. Disadvantages: Got a bit fed up of it and had to leave in order to do Leicester)
2. Manager of a Second-Hand Vinyl Record Store (Advantages: Being paid to know as much as I do about music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Disadvantages: None foreseeable)
3. Barista in an Artsy, Chic Independent Cafe (Advantages: Getting to know the regulars and the fact that I'd insist on there being lots of potted plants. Disadvantages: This is what every struggling artist wants to do)
4. Tour Guide on an Open-Top Bus - (Haven't given much thought to this one yet, it was suggested to me yesterday. I do love buses)
5. Tour Guide at the Sherlock Holmes Museum - (Advantages: Getting to dress up as Sherlock Holmes every day and tell people about him. Disadvantages: Potential customers who will know enough about Sherlock Holmes to tell all I've done is just watch Sherlock a few times and hope that'll be enough)
6. Children's Party Entertainer - (Advantages: Can just do the Mr Gumbo and Rosco routines and remove all the filth and kids would probably love it. Disadvantages: Once the filth has been removed, those routines are probably about two minutes long each)
Those are the main ones I can think of at the moment. Check back for more updates on how it all goes! Peace and love* xx
* (When I first typed this, I accidentally wrote "peace and lice." I thought about leaving it as that and seeing whether it could turn into a cool post-ironic catchphrase or something, but then I decided that anything to do with lice is just a bit grim, so love it is).