Sunday, 24 February 2008

Make 'em laugh

Many thoughts on performance this week. Partly because Verona and I have our slot at Out of the Woods next week (poems and songs). It's a big venue - a big crowd. Partly because of seeing poet Don Paterson last week in Dundee (see post below). Partly because the beloved and I also went to see comedian Frankie Boyle at the newly refurbished Arbroath Webster Theatre in the same week (bizarrely on Valentine's day...Mock the Week's finest not exactly known for his romantic take on life).
I've been thinking a lot about the pressure to be funny when you read poems in public (especially if you're not in a conventional poetry reading setting which I rarely am). People seem to think I am funny ('you should be a stand-up' I've heard a few times) and there's no getting away from the fact that it does feel good to make people laugh. Still, I have no intention of being funny full time - for a start it always looks so grim (unless you're one of the very few real natural comedians). Watching Frankie Boyle was quite depressing. He is funny and I kind of liked him but I hated watching him go for the obvious laugh too often and I hated some of the post-PC material. There is a reason we needed some of the changes to comedy that came in the 1980s....too much comedy has slipped back into misogyny or just material that women feel we have to laugh at or we look like we have no sense of humour. Not me - it'll be a long time before I find rape funny, I'm afraid. And the worst thing was I don't think he even liked doing some of that stuff himself - he seemed a lot more sensitive than his comedy persona. Which is a weird position to be in, isn't it? It would do my head in for sure. Honesty is the only thing that gets me through...I'm fanatical about it. many 'funny' poems do I read next week? How many less so? I am a bit wary of being labelled with the light slight. I find it odd the poems that get called light in the first place...sometimes they may be fairly simple in form but that doesn't stop them having a killer point to make or observation. Robin from our folk club once said something lovely to me about my poems having 'steel within' (or something like that...can't remember exact phrase). Some people see it and hear it and some people don't I suppose. Some people assume I'm just light myself which is so far from the truth that that really makes me laugh! If anything I'm far too intense, far too analytical and often ridiculously pessimistic. If I didn't make light of things sometimes I think I might just explode. And some people think I'm uneducated which isn't true either. I may be ignorant sometimes (who isn't?) but I'm more educated than you might imagine. I just hate doing that whole 'I am my CV' thing, defining yourself by where you went to college years ago.
Anyway, this all turned into a poem called 'Make 'em laugh' which is about desperation I suppose. Here it is.

Make 'em laugh

Love me, love me
Say that you love me
At least just notice me
Give me a sign

Laugh at me, laugh with me
Let's not be too fussy
Hear me and want me
And tell me I'm fine

Watch me, be there for me
Save me some sanity
Smile at me, care for me
Care that I'm here

Laugh at me, look at me
This can't be good for me
Needy and sorry
So thin on veneer

Help me, yes help me
Humour me thoroughly
Here is my inner plea
Act like a friend

Love me, just love me
Whatever you think of me
Don't sneak out guiltily
Stay till the end.

RF 2008

1 comment:

Rachel Fox said...

Interesting to note that a poem about desperation received no comments!