At the Edinburgh Fringe last week, I was talking to someone about the fame of Tony Bennett, the great crooner from the golden era of crooners. He even played Glastonbury because he is so famous as the great crooner from the golden era of crooners.
More of him later.
I got home from the bubble of the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday, where reviews and the number of stars each show gets is all-important.
Hold on. Was it yesterday I got home? No, it was Monday. My mind is fogged.
I got home from the Edinburgh Fringe two days ago to find The X Factor has re-started on ITV1 or, at least, programmes in which vast auditoria are filled by excited punters watching the auditions for The X Factor… and Celebrity Big Brother is doing rather well in ratings terms on Channel 5, though I do not recognise anyone on it except the paparazzo with pink hair, Jedward and (because she seemed drugged out of her head) someone I realised was Kerry Katona (and because people keep calling her “Kerry”).
This demonstrates two things.
Edinburgh really is a self-absorbed bubble.
I am out-of-touch with Heat magazine.
And celebrity is fleeting.
That’s three things.
My mind is fogged.
But I do know there are two clichés of showbiz success.
One is the overnight success and the other is the scenario of plodding-away-for-years, ‘paying your dues’ and then becoming famous.
Of these, the overnight success cliché is easier to comprehend. Talent shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are like job interviews and non-showbiz viewers can understand that. Showbiz talent shows are like The Apprentice – which has the format of a glorified job interview – with added glitter and stardust.
To the ordinary punter, Michael McIntyre is an overnight success much like an X Factor contestant. It seemed like he was a total unknown one week and, within a month or so, he seemed to just come from nowhere to achieve what punters regard as superstardom.
But last year sometime (my mind is fogged) he said he did not want to crack America because “it’s taken me long enough to sort things out here and I don’t want to start again somewhere else.”
Whether that is actually 100% true and he doesn’t actually want to crack America, I don’t know. But he has certainly paid his dues. He was toiling away for years, mostly unseen, and has eventually succeeded through solid, dogged hard work and talent.
Many others with exactly the same degree of talent or more, also working doggedly for their big break are, of course, still toiling away and will never get even a tenth of one percent of the public recognition Michael McIntyre has received.
Michael McIntyre deserves to be successful.
So do many other equally talented performers.
So, perhaps, do some of the X Factor hopefuls.
But they won’t be.
Because talent is not enough.
Dogged determination and hard work is not enough.
Paying your dues is not enough.
The three ingredients for potential success are talent (not always 100% necessary), dogged determination and pure luck.
The joker in the pack is that many vastly talented people have a self-destructive streak. They have the seeds of their own failure within them.
One of the oddest problems is that many performers, confident on stage, are painfully shy off stage. This means they are terrified of self-publicity when off-stage. Being themselves is a terrifying thought, so they ironically do not want and/or do not understand self-publicity.
But without self-publicity, it is unlikely they will succeed.
And, as several years of Big Brother show, even with rampant self-publicity, celebrity is fleeting.
Ask most struggling professional British comics today who Johnny Speight was and they may know because of Till Death Us Do Part.
Ask them who Arthur Haynes was and they will look at you blankly.
Who was his long-time TV straight man?
The also-ran has become a star; the megastar is forgotten.
Because the other way to achieve fame is to out-live the competition.
Tony Bennett – the great crooner from the golden era of crooners?
There was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, endless others.
At the time, Tony Bennett was way down the list of crooners. But he outlived them all, so his place in the running-order of fame has risen.
Perry Como was a megastar.
I hear muffled cries of “Who?”
Fame is like a TV weather forecast.
Everyone thinks it’s important to pay attention at the time but, ten minutes later, you can’t remember it.