“Routine” By C. A. Brown (Back To The 1990s – Short Story #3)

Stay tuned for the next 1990s-themed short story tomorrow at 9:30pm GMT :)

Stay tuned for the next 1990s-themed short story tomorrow at 9:30pm GMT 🙂

… And, London, have you ever wondered why they never play heavy metal on the radio? Or at least something other than the same five love songs sung by five thousand different people. I mean, it’s like fricking pollution!‘ Jack Carlicks took a sip of water and fell silent, waiting for the applause. It came a few seconds later, loud and rapturous.

The stage lights came on behind him, turning him into a gaunt silhouette. He cradled the mic in his arms and said: ‘You know, when the aliens eventually pick up our radio transmissions, they’ll think that the word ‘baby’ is a type of punctuation. No wonder that there hasn’t been any recorded contact with alien life. It is, and you heard it here first, a government conspiracy to scare away the cool planets.‘ A few giggles rippled through the theatre.

You’ve all seen Star Trek, right?’ An eerie silence filled the room ‘Seriously? Not one of you? Well, this is the worst science fiction convention I’ve ever been to!‘ Laughter erupted, Jack continued: ‘It’s set in a future where there’s no rockstars, no adult magazines, no wrestling, no motorbikes, no horror movies, no violent videogames and nothing but wine coolers to drink. Everyone has to wear skintight leotards too. But, get this… humans are STILL the coolest people in the United Federation Of Planets.

And, you know why? It’s like that thing in high school. You do have high schools here, right? Anyway, if you can’t hang out with the cool kids, then you hang out with the nerdiest nerds you can find. So, you look cool… by comparison. NOW do you see why there’s nothing but pop music on the radio?‘ The audience convulsed with laughter.

Jack reached into his jacket and pulled out a tabloid. For a second, he sat down, took another sip of water and leafed through a few pages. Bewildered murmurings filled the theatre. The mic crackled slightly.

Throwing the paper away and leaping to his feet, Jack grabbed the mic and said: ‘I’ve been here a week and I still can’t get enough of your press! There are paranoid conspiracy theories about Europe on page two, there’s nudity on page three to distract from the rabid rantings on page five, there’s all sorts of scary stuff about terrorism on page four and there are even calls to … bring back… the death penalty, on the front page! It made me feel homesick, just like that.’ He clicked his fingers. The air rumbled with laughter.

But, you’ve gotta wonder how they print this crap? I mean, we’ve got the first Amendment. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. And, with all that freedom, they still don’t print this kind of rubbish. It’s so… boring.‘ More laughter filled the air. ‘What are people supposed to laugh at every morning?

There were a few boos and hisses. Jack arched his eyebrows: ‘You mean, some of you actually…. take this stuff seriously? Even the stories about how Germany is planning to ban pint glasses from your pubs?‘ A solitary drunken holler echoed through the silent theatre. Jack chuckled: ‘Dude! There’s more beer in a stein! It’s like two pints… for the price of one.‘ He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper: ‘They’re. Doing. You. A. Favour!

By now, the audience was roaring with laughter again. Jack chuckled and launched into a routine about John Major, Bill Clinton and a golden saxophone.

When the audience had stopped guffawing, he smiled and said ‘Well, I’m glad you actually know who John Major is. When I did that joke in Texas, all I got were blank stares. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got time for at the moment. It’s…‘ He tapped his watch ‘…Half past ten, which means that you have exactly half an hour of drinking time left. Maybe the stein isn’t such a bad idea after all. Goodnight. Peace out.

The curtain fell.

Spark Your Imagination With Stand-Up Comedy

2015  Artwork Stand up comedy inspiration sketch

Even though this is an article about one way to beat writer’s block and/or artist’s block, I’m going to have to start by talking about nothing but stand-up comedy. As usual, there’s a good reason for this.

Although my experience with performing stand-up comedy is extremely limited, I certainly think that it’s one of the best types of comedy out there. Ok, some stand-up comics are a lot funnier than others and you’ll probably have to watch quite a bit of it before you learn which types of stand-up comedy works for you.

For example, I like comics such as Eddie Izzard and Bethany Black and I also certainly have a soft spot for unremittingly cynical American comics like Bill Hicks, Margaret Cho and George Carlin too.

On the other hand, you might prefer the mild-mannered and inoffensive comedic stylings of someone like Michael McIntryre (even though, in my opinion, he’s much better as a chat show host than he is as a stand-up comic). Different types of comedy work for different people.

Nonetheless, it’s important to find a type of stand-up comedy that “works” for you. Why? Because watching good stand-up comedy can be one of the best ways to get inspired again if you have writer’s block or artist’s block. Seriously, it’s one of the best types of “muse” that you can find.

You see, one of the wonderful things about stand-up comedy is that it forces you to use your imagination when you’re watching it.

After all, you’re doing nothing but watching a single person stand on a stage and talk about things – it’s up to you to imagine what they’re talking about. And, well, this is a great workout for the more visual parts of your imagination. Seriously, it’s like reading a novel on steroids.

Well, not literally....

Well, not literally….

Not only that, good stand-up comedy relies on imaginative descriptions in order to be funny. So, watching stand-up comedy can help you to learn how to describe things in a fresh, interesting and amusing way.

A good stand-up comic can make an ordinary thing sound hilarious with just a couple of words of description and – well – this is a skill that writers should certainly learn.

Another reason why stand-up comedy is such a great source of creative inspiration for artists and writers is because it forces us to see the world from a different perspective.

The secret to good stand-up comedy isn’t just well-written jokes, it’s the comic’s own personality and worldview. Usually, stand-up comics exaggerate their perspective on the world for comedic effect, but we still get a glimpse into someone else’s psyche.

And, well, this can be especially inspirational because it makes us think about how we see the world. It makes us compare our own perspective on the world to the stand-up comic’s perspective and, by doing this, we can learn more about ourselves.

This, of course, also means that we learn how to make our writing more unique and how to add more of our own personality to the things that we make.

Finally, and most importantly, stand-up comedy is a great remedy for writer’s block and artist’s block for the simple reason that it makes us happy. It makes us laugh.

Although creative blocks can sometimes appear due to a genuine lack of new ideas, they often tend to appear as a result of our emotions. After all, whilst it’s a popular misconception that artists and writers create their best stuff when they’re in a melancholic and miserable mood – this isn’t usually the case. In fact, these kinds of moods can make you completely lose interest in creating things.

So, one of the first things to do when you feel uninspired is to look at your own emotions. I can almost guarantee that they probably won’t be good ones. And, well, watching stand-up comedy can be one way to (at least temporarily) solve this problem.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂