So, this Sunday, I am going to a new monthly LGBT comedy night – Queer As Jokes – at Angel Comedy’s Bill Murray venue in London. The evening is being organised by Simon Caine, who runs the comedy industry Facebook group The Comedy Collective and the interview-based Ask The Industry Podcast.
“You are full of ideas and projects,” I told him. “What do you do in your ‘day job’?”
“It is probably,” he told me, “60% or 70% writing jokes for brands for Twitter and Facebook and then 15% I do stuff for clubs and stuff – helping them out with their social media – helping them, basically, build a community around what they’re doing.”
“Do you work from home?” I asked.
“It depends on the job,” he told me, “but I have an office at home. I have psychological problems which mean I am so used to living in one room that I have put the bed in the kitchen along with a cupboard where I keep my stuff in. It’s a one-bedroom flat. So, in the room that is meant to be a bedroom, I have put a desk in the middle and do my work in there.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I just like having all my stuff in one room so, when I cross the corridor, I feel like I am travelling to work. A girl who came there was a little taken aback.
“She asked me Why have you put your bed in the kitchen? and I told her Because I like all my stuff in one room. She asked me: Doesn’t that get confusing? I told her: It’s more comfortable for me. Why would it be confusing?”
“Does this one-room thing,” I asked, “go back to your student days?”
“Well,” Simon told me, “I lived at home until I was at university. I lived in one room at uni and then I moved back to my parents’ house and, when I moved in with my girlfriend, we lived in one of the rooms in a one-bedroom flat because her mum was living in the living room… It’s a long story… And then I moved back to my parents’ place and then I moved out and now I just like being in one room. I’m sure I will slowly edge back into having a bedroom separately.”
“Anyway,” I said, “why are you starting an LGBT night? You are not gay. What do you know about such things?”
“I am,” he explained, “running it with Tom Mayhew, the gay comedian. I put myself down as an ally for LGBT stuff but, no, I can’t properly relate to it, cos I’m not in that and never really been in that. For a long time, I was pansexual.”
I asked: “You are attracted to woodland creatures and play a flute?”
“No,” Simon said, “you are attracted to someone personality-wise. You can see their sexual attractiveness but you very rarely find them sexually appealing until you’ve got to know them.
“That was how I defined my sexuality for about four or five years but, in the last three months of last year, I met two girls who I immediately found sexually appealing which was weird, because I hadn’t found that for ages. So that was interesting. I am straight, but it’s kinda complicated. I find men attractive, but I’ve never found them sexually appealing. It’s kinda weird like that.”
I asked: “You mean you find men aesthetically attractive?”
“Yeah. Yeah. I dunno. I’ve got a weird relationship with my gender at the moment. I’ve got a lot of polyamorous friends and a lot of kink friends and all of them say regular comedy nights are very heteronormative and very geared towards straight people.”
“So,” I asked, “that is why you’re starting this monthly LGBT night?”
“It’s more because I realised I was bored of the comedy circuit. It’s awful at the moment. There are a lot of straight white men talking about Tinder and their failed dating lives. I’ve got a lot of friends who are in LGBT or another minority group who don’t get booked as often as they maybe should. Why not? And does it mean they don’t get to develop as much as other acts who get more stage time?… How many clubs have you been to in the last two weeks where they’ve had a person overtly talking about their sexuality who wasn’t straight? I just thought I would put on a new gig where I would actively look for new voices I had not heard.”
“But,” I suggested, “is having gay people talking about being gay in an LGBT night not restricting them in their own niche pigeonhole?”
“Everyone,” suggested Simon, “gets pigeonholed at some point when they get to a certain level.”
“So,” I said, “you are going to run these Sunday night LGBT shows every month?”
“We are going to do the first four monthly nights as a charity thing and then, after that, depending on how it goes, we would run them as a monthly pro gig (i.e. paying the acts).”
“They are themed?” I asked.
“Yes. The themes we have down for the four shows are… January – New Years… February – Anti-Valentines… March – Anti Steak and Blowjob Day… And, for April, we will probably do April Fools.”
“Anti steak and blowjobs?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Simon. “Some men got together and said they hated Valentine’s Day because it was ‘for women’ and they wanted ‘a day for men’ so they started a steakandblowjobs website for men. Ours would be an Anti Steak & Blowjob Day night.”
“Ah,” I said. “And, given that you are always full of new ideas…beyond the monthly Queer As Jokes nights… any other projects?”
“I have,” said Simon, “briefly talked to a friend of mine – a black comedian – about starting a black gig later in the year. Obviously, I would not be performing in that.”
“You could black up?” I suggested.
“No,” said Simon.