Jez Lowe on Folk Clubs and Comedy
Jez Lowe writes:
I had a conversation with a famous folk singer many years ago, wherein he predicted that one day, comedy would replace folk music as a "club-based" entertainment, and that one by one all the folk clubs across the country would close down and be replaced by comedy clubs.
I guess he was kind of right, though as usual, the folk club scene has put up an admirable struggle when faced with adversity.
Personally, I find a lot of stand-up comedy more irritating than entertaining, with some notable exceptions, so I'm doubly dissatisfied with this turn of events.
Many of these went on to bigger and better things, and while others simply faded away.
The best of them, and amid cries of "Boo, hiss, crawler!", I would include our own Mike Harding high on this list, were doubly skilled, in that they did a stand-up routine full of wit and originality, and then went seamlessly into their "proper job", as singers, musicians and songwriters.
Maybe that's why most of today's stand-up comedians, with their Bob Hope-style routines of pacing the stage with a microphone, just leave me cold.
I was spoiled early on by funny men who knew when to be serious.
About fifteen years ago, I shared a stage at the Malvern Arts Festival with a comedian that I hadn't heard of at that time.
My set over-ran quite a bit, through no fault of mine, but he just sat waiting patiently in the wings, and when I'd finished we chatted for a while.
I remember he was very complimentary about an ad-lib I'd done when a clap of thunder overhead had interrupted my song about the perils of organised religion, after which he asked me about the guitar tuning I'd been using at the time.
We parted on good terms, and I watched the start of his act before having to heading off on the long drive back to Durham.
He was very funny. In fact he was Eddie Izzard.
The only other time I've seen him live was at Bob Geldof's "Live 8" concert in Edinburgh a few years ago, when he was at once quite hilarious, then quite overawed by fifty thousand voices intoning "Flower of Scotland" during his act, and then quite serious while playing piano behind Midge Ure on his Ultravox hit Vienna. Well, there you go Eddie. If you'd stuck with me you could be making a tidy living around the folk clubs now, instead of scraping by doing Ocean's Eleven with that George Clooney bloke.