The least I've ever looked forward to a gig. Then the smut was heartwarming.

I like doing gigs.

For a while last year I really didn't, then a doctor gave me some tablets and then I started to enjoy myself again. I really feel good at doing comedy at the minute.

But I was dreading this gig.

So, I'm on tour. It's self financed, self publicised and a risk. I'm pleased I'm doing it though, it's going well. In that people are enjoying it and the risks are paying off enough to make up for the gigs that don't sell well. It's a good show i'm doing, I'm very proud of it. I'm doing venues all over the Northeast but in lots of other places too. From Glasgow to Brighton. In all sorts of different venues. Comedy clubs, theatres, arts centres, upstairs in pubs, cafes, coffee shops and community centres, even at the Laurel and Hardy Museum! One of these was in Bilton Hall community centre, on the estate I grew up. I have loads of memories of the place. It's the place I went to youth club and made lots of good friends, it's the place that I used to get drunk behind when I was 16. I didn't think I'd have a lot of friends from those days turn up, after all, we are in our late 30s now, they don't live there anymore. I did think I'd have a lot of family there though. So why was I dreading it? Well, when I booked it in November, my Mam was well. A week and a half before the show, the cancer that returned in December took her life. She was 56. It was horrible, that goes without saying. It was sad for me and my brother and sister as well as her many siblings, relatives and friends. It is a very big family. Worst of all was watching my Granny nurse her youngest daughter in the room she'd chosen to die in. I don't know how you'd even begin trying to cope with that. Through the final few weeks of her illness, I'd kept working, knowing I may have to pop back quickly. I had no choice, I'm self employed and my wife has started a new job where she won't be paid for another few weeks. I won't pretend that the gigs weren't a nice distraction. Part of me wanted to pull this show but it didn't seem right. I didn't want to let anyone down who wanted to come. There was only going to be room for about 30 people. I'd worked out that about half of those would be members of my family. Most of the rest would have known my Mam. Now, my family are big laughers, indeed, a lot of the weeks before my Mam died had a lot of laughter in but maybe this wasn't the right time? I mean, it DEFINITELY wasn't the right time. My Auntie Maisie was mayor of South Tyneside twice. The South Shields side of the Shields Ferry landing is named in her honour. She is a genuinely wonderful woman. She is also not actually my auntie but she has lived next door to my Granny since before I was born. I got a message from my Auntie Christine (Another wonderful woman, who put her life on hold to help care for my Mam) that said this (I'd missed a phone call and asked what it was about): "It is about Maisie doing a speech before you perform with regards to you dedicating the show to your mam, we hope you will agree to it x" Oh man! Any comedians reading this will be having a familiar feeling. We've all done charity gigs where someone has done a speech beforehand and, well, a sad speech is a hard thing to overcome comedically. But, of course I wanted her to do a speech but I didn't want anyone who didn't know my Mam who was just at the gig to see some comedy to feel as though they were intruding onto private grief at all. So, we decided she should do it at the end. The room was very close to full, with around 30 people in. A lot related to me, a few who remembered me as a kid and some who just came to see a show. It was around now that I realised just how much of my show is about death. I honestly hadn't realised it was. It is an incredibly silly show, absolutely nonsensical in places but, I was working on it a lot between March and July last year when I was very down so a lot of the daft jokes are actually about pretty bleak subjects. I just hadn't realised until then. What was I going to do? This was the show. I wanted to do the show. I didn't want to keep banging on about death though. But this was the show. It was too late to change now. I planned to open with a few minutes of local stuff but, beyond that, I was going to have to do the show. The more I went into it with doubt, the worse it would seem. Sammy Dobson is my usual support act but she couldn't do it. I roped my friend Cal Halbert in. I knew it would be a much older audience than usual and Cal knows how to mainstream it up with the best of them. He's a great impressionist with bits of music and magic. He knew exactly what was required and went down great. Too well if anything. My show is quite odd. I wasn't sure I hadn't messed up booking him. My family are fun people but they are mostly not regular comedy goers. Perhaps the show wasn't right? This does Cal a bit of a disservice by the way. He does mainstream very well but I think he's actually way more alternative than he thinks. His thing of being an impressionist who thinks impressions are a bit rubbish and is miserable about it is a great character. So, I went on. They cheered loads. Of course they did, I knew, if nothing else, I'd get a warm welcome. I had to get it out of the way quickly. No getting away from it. There is definite swearing in the show. So, I said "fuck" in front my grandmother and a mayor. They didn't mind, people who have lived a life are rarely offended by things like that. So I said spunk, even though there was no part of the show where I usually say spunk. Then I kept pushing it. Accusing my Granny of putting it about in Anderson shelters for Nylon during the war. She laughed. I pointed out that I thought that her last three kids were just cos she was bored and trying out new positions. She laughed more. I asked if Tommy The Tramp (A real homeless man who lived around there years ago (I know Tramp is not an okay word to say, that's covered in the bit)) was my real Grandad. She laughed, people laughed, that lovely shocked laugh where people know you shouldn't have said it and know you know that too but trust that it'll be fine. Death came up a lot. Nobody felt uneasy. Even during the bit where I talk about some wisdom I'll remember on my deathbed before puncturing the moment. Not even during the bit where a glove dies and a ghost appears (That sounds made up, come and see the show to see what I mean!). Not even during the bit where I talk about how I used to wake up every morning wishing I'd died in my sleep. The show went really well. If anything, I did ten minutes extra. Then Maisie did her speech and it was lovely a tribute to my mother and the family that she's known for so long. She said that she sees a lot of my Grandad in me. I don't really think I do but he was a man loved by many people so I took the compliment. I recently found out that my Grandad once tried stand up comedy and it didn't go well. He was a very funny man and, I think, could have done well with it had he continued but the fact that he'd tried it astounded me. It's not for me to say whether he'd have been proud of me but I hope so. Maisie finished her speech, I said that she had "Been mayor twice, it would have been three times if not for the embezzlement." Because it is important to end on a gag. I'm not going to say that the gig was cathartic. That's too much to claim, the funeral is on Monday, hopefully that will be to an extent. But, we made my granny, who had lost her daughter a week and a half earlier, laugh for an hour and a half. No idea if that's cathartic but it's certainly something. Seems tacky to plug my tour now but the finale at the Customs House in South Shields went on sale a couple of days ago, it'd mean a lot to me if you came. https://www.customshouse.co.uk/theatre/lee-kyle---folly-/111602/

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