Indie developer Byron Atkinson-Jones is going on stage to tell jokes in the name of charity. This month, he gets some advice from fellow games industry member, Claire Sharkey
Last month I said I was appearing on stage for the first time at a club in Angel in London. Well, it didn't happen. No, I didn’t run and hide in some small dark corner shivering in fear – something happened at the club which meant they had to cancel and re-schedule the event. I’ve not had the new date yet, but it does mean I’ve had a stay of execution for a while. I only got the email telling me this the day before and I couldn’t tell if I was relieved or disappointed that the show had to be postponed for a month.
Don’t picture everyone naked. That never works well. Don’t appear on the stage naked, that never doesn’t end up with arrests
There was a certain amount of nervous excitement associated with actually getting up on that stage for the first time and trying to make people laugh. I don’t mind admitting my first reaction was “aaaand relax” when the email came through.
Don’t worry, the gig on the 2nd of November still seems to be going ahead and, at this rate, it’s in danger of being my first time on stage. It’s where Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard started their careers too so there’s no pressure at all. It would be interesting if something larger did come out of doing all of this – it certainly can’t pay worse than being an indie developer!
The extra time I’ve got is allowing me to work on my material a bit more. One consistent line that I plan to use in all my routines on stage is:
Hello, I’m Byron and I’m an indie developer, or as my wife likes to put it: unemployed
Needs quite a bit of work and probably won’t work on non-game developer crowds but it’s a starting point for the tone of the rest of the material. Don’t worry though, that isn’t all my material, as that would be a very short gig! Between now and the gig there will be a lot more.
While I was at Develop conference this year, Tracey McGarrigan introduced me to another person in the games industry, Claire Sharkey, who also did some stand-up comedy. The line of games industry related people who are also stand-up comedians is growing, it’s like a dark secret that’s finally coming out into the light!
A few of the producers I’ve had over the years would make a comment like “you’re all comedians” when we handed in our task length approximations, and I used to think that it was just a throw away comment but perhaps it was a prediction as I’m finding more and more developers have also done or are doing stand-up comedy. I wonder why that is? I’ll bet there’s a potential PhD study in there somewhere.
Just like with Imran and Brenda, I asked Claire some questions to help me on my quest to raise some money for GamesAid by doing stand-up:
Who are you and what's your connection to the games industry?
My name is Claire Sharkey and I run Brand and Community at dingit.tv. I’ve worked in the gaming industry (PR and journalism) for 6 years. At Dingit I’m responsible for Events, Social Media and Sponsorship and helping to further establish Dingit in the esport, gaming and media sectors.
What’s your connection with stand up comedy and how did you end up in it?
Well my life is a joke, so I thought that I may as well make myself useful and see if I could entertain people at the same time, so I’ve done a couple of stand-up performances, but am no means a pro. My style is basically recounting actual life events, hoping to make people laugh and not succumb to deep depression. The first stand-up I did was in Greenwich at Up-The-Creek, against a tough audience, but I ended up beating (sounds harsh) 15 other acts to win a bottle of cava and an envelope with £20. It was the least dodgy exchange of those two items I’d ever encountered.
So I’m doing this insane 5 minute comedy routine at the Comedy Store next year, any tips on not dying on the night?
Don’t picture everyone naked. That never works well. Don’t appear on the stage naked, that never doesn’t end up with arrests. Just practise to yourself, maybe some friends, but if you are nervous about a big event at a well- known venue like the Comedy Store, doing some practise runs at local open mic venues really does help
you gauge your own nerves and how a general audience will react to your deliveries.
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