Two Jews on the pressures of comedy – or even getting a venue to perform in

Last August, I met New York based comedian Laura Levites when she was performing her show American Girlfriend in Edinburgh and blogged about her in a joint interview with her and London-based American comic Lewis Schaffer titled Two Jews Jabbering About Sex, Drugs and Suicide at The Edinburgh Fringe.

She is very funny. They both are. And they both have their worries.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from Laura. This is what she said (posted with her permission):

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Laura Levites flyers in the Royal Mile yesterday

Laura Levites flyers Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in 2012

I was going to the Fringe again this year. I was told by (Xxxxx venue) that I had a spot, in fact I’m sure I was one of the first to put my application in. Last week (Xxxxx venue) told me I no longer have a spot.

I’m pretty fucking pissed off, because I didn’t put in for anywhere else and I have no idea what to do.

I’m going to be completely honest here. I’m in the throes of finishing my first book, American Girlfriend, ‘the full version’. So, for the past two months, I have been locked in the confines of my head writing… or thinking about writing… which has required me to think about my life a lot and – What do you know? – Bang!… Full-blown depression kicks in…. So I thought about ending it. I’m like Fuck it. I’m done with life…….. and curled up in the fetal position.

Luckily for me, my brother called my shrink and intervened.

Hence, an idea for a new show SelfHelpless.

I had to make a deal with my shrink – He would only see me if I finish my book and not kill myself. So, this week, I’m seeing another new doctor to see if we can get my medication right. And, I kid you not, Friday I start going to a depression support group. Part of my mandated recovery is exercise, so I’m doing the latest in feminine exercise called Physique57, where I stand at a ballet bar in a room with a bunch of angry women and get yelled at to lift my leg higher. I’m actually starting to enjoy the pain of this.

I’m doing this depression right!

But I have been writing and I do have a book – Fuck, writing a book is hard. Hopefully it will be done in the next few weeks and I can start looking ahead instead of behind.

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Last night, I also got an e-mail from Lewis Schaffer who is performing his show Lewis Schaffer’s American Guide to England on eight consecutive Sundays at the Leicester Square Theatre, starting this weekend. He has been performing his free show Lewis Schaffer: Free Until Famous twice-weekly at The Source Below in London for the last three years or more. This is what he told me:

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The Fringe has reduced comedian Lewis Schaffer to this

Lewis Schaffer is worried about his Leicester Square shows…

My Leicester Square Theatre run starts this weekend and I’m in over my head.

How can I ask for £10? But then again, what is ten quid? Nothing. Bubkis. I am funny!

But, then again, am I asked to do the Old Rope comedy club? Or that Stewart Lee Alternative Comedy TV thing? Or nominated for a Chortle Award? Not even something for Nunhead American Radio. Nothing.

I am not sure who is going to turn up and pay ten quid.

The idea I pitched was Lewis Schaffer’s American Guide to England. 

Does anyone care about England nowadays, especially the English? Do they care about what an American thinks about England? I am not even much of an American, anyway. I am barely a New York Jew. I was weird in New York and I am weird here.

I want to tell the audience that the show they have paid £10 to see has been replaced by The Lewis Schaffer Show. All about me!

Knowing me, I will tell the audience that. Like when I told a Democrats Abroad fundraiser in 2004 that I had voted for George W. Bush. That didn’t go down well. Fact was I hadn’t voted for GWB. I hadn’t voted since 1984. I just couldn’t help saying it.

All I want to do is do what I always do: not be limited to some structure about England or Britain or America. I do need some kind of structure. I should be writing the show, or at least reviewing the stuff I have about Britain, which is probably a lot. Did I tell you I was on stage in Birmingham the other night for maybe two and half hours? Frigging mental!

I know what you’re going to say:

“But you always say you’re not ready and you always say no-one will turn up and it always works out.”

I have struggled in anonymity at the Source Below and, by charging money for my show at the Leicester Square Theatre, the reviewers from The Times and the Guardian will be coming in. I’ll be a total shambles and start panicking on stage and – boom – the work I’ve put in over the past few years will have been wasted.

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Filed under Comedy, Psychology

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