By day I’m an occasionally suited, always booted, PR director, but by night I like nothing more than stepping right out of my comfort zone and directly into the limelight.
You see, my passion is stand-up comedy – and not just watching it. I am a stand-up comedian.
I’ve still not been able to pinpoint exactly what made me take the step from stand up being something I always wanted to do into it being something I do, but I know the moment I did I was hooked.
My first comedic outing (at 38 I feel I’m too old to use the word gig) took place in late 2010.
I took to the stage at The Motley Club in Otley’s Korks Wine Bar certain I was 10 minutes away from greatness.
Ten minutes, and a few laughs later, I left it realising there was a lot more to stand up than writing a set that made your wife laugh, remembering all the words and then spitting them out in the right order.
Stand-up comedy is an art form and the two seasoned performers, including local pro Silky, who took to the stage before and after me that night made my efforts look like the kind of thing my children bring back from nursery on a regular basis.
Six months and the birth of my youngest son later I was back.
Since then I’ve been performing regularly across the north of England, and to date have racked up close to 100 notches on my mic stand as I try to carve out a name for myself in an arena that is bursting at the seams with people trying to do exactly the same thing.
The number of people doing stand-up was the thing that surprised me the most when I first started.
On any given night, and pretty much in any given town, you’ll find people of all ages, and from all walks of life, performing in clubs, pubs, cafes and even the odd front room.
Yet despite the weight of numbers, both in terms of venues and performers, the career ladder in stand up is as well defined as it is in any traditional place of work.
You start at the bottom doing open mic nights and gong shows, step up to open spots on professional nights and then its on to paid middles spots, paid opening 20s and the holy grail of paid headline spots – and in between there’s the opportunity to shake off the shackles of restricted set lengths by taking on MCing duties.
At present I find myself with one foot still on the bottom rung and the other trying to find firm ground on the second.
In practice this means that while I’ve had a number of notable successes – among them getting to perform 10 minute sets at leading clubs like The Comedy Store, Frog & Bucket and XS Malarkey in Manchester, and Mr Bens here in Leeds – I’m still a long, long way from being on Live at The Apollo.