Me doing stand-up comedy? You must be having a laugh

Me doing stand-up comedy You must be having a laugh

Apparently we’re all drinking too much. But the guidelines about how many units we’re allowed are so confusing.

I’m fine with the two glasses of water a day. It’s the two litres of wine I’m struggling with. Good joke No Oh well, please yourselves.

At least the audience laughed when I told it during my terrifying five minutes of fame as a stand-up comic. Comedy, everyone agrees, is the new rock ’n’ roll.

Into the unknown: Writer Sophie Heath took to the comedy stage for the first time in front of 100 people in Leicester

Into the unknown: Writer Sophie Heath took to the comedy stage for the first time in front of 100 people in Leicester

Peter Kay, our highest-earning comic, took home 20.34 million last year, according to figures published this week. Lee Evans was paid nearly 14 million. Even Sarah Millican, the only woman stand-up on the list, earned 1.46 million.

So with people prepared to pay that sort of cash for a belly-laugh (and let’s face it, it looks like easy money, doesn’t it), I thought I’d have a go.

And that is how I found myself performing my own routine on the opening night of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival in front of an audience of 100 people.

I’d been coached by Marc Blake, a stand-up and comedy tutor who counts Catherine Tate among former pupils. My material, he advised, ‘should come from things that annoy you’. Well, almost anything winds me up, so no lack of inspiration there.

He liked my list of targets: technology (making life more complicated rather than easier); being bullied at school (I was too posh one minute, not posh enough the next); women who practically live in beauty salons (having bits of themselves waxed, threaded, polished and bronzed)…

He also armed me with some golden rules: no waffling; don’t get drunk before you go on stage; take your time; and have fun. He added that, as a woman, I must ‘dress down’, apparently to deter hecklers.

Hecklers Gulp.

Comedy is the road to riches: Peter Kay earned more than 20 million in 2011 according to recent figures

Comedy is the road to riches: Peter Kay earned more than 20 million in 2011 according to recent figures

Somehow Marc calmed me down, and, suddenly, it was all I could think about. I’d leap out of bed with ideas for potential gags. I watched endless Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly DVDs.

Greg Davies, star of hit Channel 4 show The Inbetweeners, warned me it takes ten years to make a good stand-up. /02/16/article-2102295-07D62C23000005DC-229_233x423.jpg” width=”233″ height=”423″ alt=”Advice: Comedian Greg Davies, star of Channel 4's The Inbetweeners warned Sophie it took a long time to become a good stand-up comedian, but she only had two weeks to perfect it” class=”blkBorder” />

Advice: Comedian Greg Davies, star of Channel 4's The Inbetweeners warned Sophie it took a long time to become a good stand-up comedian, but she only had two weeks to perfect it

The day dawned, and as the venue began to fill, I paced backstage, a muttering mess, until a voice yelled: ‘You’re next!’

My stomach crashed through the floor, then back again. Twice. Three times. I felt as though I’d been glued to my seat.

But when I heard my name, the strangest thing happened: I shot up like a meerkat fired from a cannon. Suddenly, I just couldn’t wait to get out there and make ’em laugh.

‘When you’re dating,’ I observed to the sea of faces looking at me from beyond the footlights, ‘your mobile becomes an instrument of torture. I’m in a state of perpetual rejection.

‘He’s not texting, he’s not calling, he’s not texting to say sorry for not calling!’

That was my techno-joke, and the reception it received got my act off to a confident start. The rest, I’m proud, relieved and frankly amazed to say, went just as well.

I managed not to fall over, freeze, pass out, go blank, burst into tears.

Oddly, my nerves had almost completely disappeared. And, hallelujah, the audience laughed. I didn’t even get heckled. I loved it.

Funny, that.