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5 live Stands Up for Comic Relief

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Tony Livesey Tony Livesey | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

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Hello. It's great to be here. Well, I'm from Burnley so it's great to be anywhere! Boom boom.

With those immortal opening lines I began one of the most nerve-wracking five minutes of my life. In the past I've tried to get laughs on Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, but both those programmes are recorded. Deafening silence after a bad gag can be edited out.

When it comes to Stand Up For Comic Relief, there is no relief. No get out clause. No escape route. Just you...and an audience of 400 strangers urging through every pore of their being: make us laugh!

It all began when Comic Relief asked me to represent BBC Radio 5 live in a competition for untried and pathetically amateur comedians. They took six presenters from the six BBC national radio stations, gave us a famous comedian mentor and then gave us two weeks to devise our first ever comedy act.

I was up against Tony Blackburn among others so you can see how serious the competition was. After just a few days of scribbling bad knock-knock jokes and realising nothing funny had ever happened to me on the way to the forum, it was time for a full dress rehearsal of my embryonic act.

We played and survived a comedy pub in central London. A crowd of 50 were kind and laughed at our gags, even the bad ones.

Then just seven days later, with the bad gags excised (sadly you'll never hear the one about a bloke from Burnley being eaten by a venus fly trap), we were at the Comedy Store in the west end of London with punters queueing round the block.

That queue outside mirrored the one behind-the-scenes - as all the competitors queued for the loos just outside our one, big dressing room. Watched by mentors including Mark Steel, Julian Clary, Sandi Toksvig and my own, Justin Moorhouse, I was called to the stage.

First.

Ladies and gentlemen, I OPENED at the Comedy Store. They have probably been better acts. I am sure there have been funnier acts. But I doubt there's ever been a more relieved act once it was over. Five minutes thirty seven seconds felt like a lifetime. Who knows how long my act seemed to the audience.

I compared life in London to life in Burnley. It was funnier than it sounds, believe me.

I now just have to hope that the public (especially lovely 5 live listeners) vote for me in the Comic Relief contest.

Help me beat Tony Blackburn. That'll be a laugh.

"Well, I've got to go", as I said to the Comedy Store to gales of laughter, "I'm off to see Loose Women. And if I can't do that, I'll watch telly instead".

Radio presenters from across the BBC are involved in an epic comedy showdown as Stand Up For Comic Relief makes its return.

To see and hear more of Tony's (and others) performance and for details of how to vote - go to www.bbc.co.uk/rednoseday/standup. Voting opens at 7pm, Wednesday 9 March 2011 and closes at 7pm on Wednesday 16 March..

So - it's over to you. To vote for your favourite routine all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial the following numbers, depending on who you want to vote for.

If you want to vote for Dev and Radio 1, call 0904 95 96 001:
To vote for Radio 2's Tony Blackburn, call 0904 95 96 002
For Radio 3's Tom Service the number is 0904 95 96 003
To vote for Radio 4's Jenni Murray, call 0904 95 96 004:
For 5Live's Tony Livesey, simply dial 0904 95 96 005
And for 6Music's Shaun Keaveny, just call 0904 95 96 006.

Calls cost £1.02 from a BT landline, other networks may vary. Calls from mobiles will cost considerably more. 76p will go to Comic Relief. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. Lines close at 7pm on 16th March.The winner will be announced during Red Nose Day on the 18th March. For full terms and conditions visit bbc.co.uk/rednoseday/standup, where you can also watch all the presenters performances.

Tony Livesey presents the late-night show on 5 Live.

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