I am the type of nerd who enjoys a movie or TV show and so I go to read the Wikipedia page for it so I can make sure I understand all the references, character backgrounds, story lines, trivia and cameos. This is why I’m writing this anthology. This is for people who have seen the show and wondered about certain aspects of it, or are just interested in finding out more. Of course you could read this having not seen the show but it could ruin it for you. It’s really up to you. I want to discuss a few of the themes, allegories and illustrations in the show for those who appreciate them.
The tamagotchi appears 3 times in the show as a symbol of control over a situation and more importantly me being unable to control a situation. In the story where I’m cheated on, and the underwear story, I feel like there’s some blame on my side but there’s very little I can do in the situation. The last appearance of my tamagotchi is my way of finding common ground and understanding my father and his shortcomings.
Much of what I say in the show, regarding my father is true. I did not hear from him for years after my parents divorced. There was a time when he would pick us up every Saturday. Then it became every other Saturday. Then it just stopped happening that Saturday I told Alexander I couldn’t come to his birthday party because my dad was picking me up and neither happened. What I try to maintain though is that I humanise my father by seeing elements of him in me, and me in him. You’ll often hear me equating us because as I’ve grown, I’ve understood that relationships can be difficult and that whilst it may be easy to think of him as the villain, things tend be a little more complicated.
Fantasy and Reality
This is the main theme running throughout the show. I feel like this has been one of my biggest and most character-building journeys. I’ve always been aware of the difference between the two but would often let one encroach upon the other or keep them completely separate which is just as bad. If, as the show states, I genuinely want to become one of the greatest comedians who ever lived, I must find a way to marry the fantasy and the reality of it to achieve it. Dreaming of being the greatest without actually doing work, is unproductive. Working without dreaming is passionless. The same applies to my search for a wife. My relationships that appealed to an element of fantasy eventually failed the test of feasibility. However, what would romance be without a blend of one’s action and imagination? A lot of the references early on the in show are about the “divorce” of fantasy and reality but the conclusion ends in their marriage.
If you listen clearly to references, the stripper is me. I describe her as the “greatest stripper who ever lived” as a nod to my aim of being one of the “greatest comics who ever lived”. I explain her working hard for appreciation but only receiving small amounts of money that are placed on her, dropping to the floor then being picked back up again. That’s a reference to my frustrations with starting out in comedy. Then I end the bit with the line “what kind of selfish entertainer uses their platform to discuss their problems?” which obviously is self-reflecting. The story is also true. I did go to the King of Diamonds Strip Club and when that scenario took place I saw a beauty in it that I had to capture for the show.
Black Calvin Kleins
The truth is I do wear Black Calvin Kleins a lot. I fell in love with them early on and in the show, I clearly refer to them as an allegory for my wife. Just as a little fun fact, whilst I took the material for this show around America, I stopped at a Calvin Klein underwear outlet and bought about 10 fresh pairs of black Calvin Kleins so I would have enough to wear for the Fringe and show off during that bit. I also wore a fresh pair of Black Calvin Klein boxers on my wedding day.
The Barclays Advert
The Barclays Bank advert that I refer to in the show can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGdmLQDi6eA
I mean it when I say I’m not bitter, as I’m actually quite happy to see the success of Chris McCausland. I have gigged with him many times and I can honestly say he has never treated me differently because of the colour of my skin.
I do have a very special relationship with America. Every year for the past 5 years I have travelled there as a little retreat and comedy internship. There I get to watch some of my favourite comics and learn so much. It’s very refreshing and inspiring to study the differences between the comedy I grew up watching and the comedy I work around. It is also true that I have had a special thing for American women. I find the accents a turn on but as I discover in the show, a sexy accent or any other superficial glamour doesn’t necessarily hold up a lifelong commitment. The dichotomy aspect of America also rings true with me. I split the story up between the two coasts of America as I find them to be opposites not just in geographical location but also in cultures. I find LA to be desperately glamorous where maybe I don’t fit in. I find New York to be gritty and real…even when the realness is hard to swallow. This dichotomy is representative of the discussion between Fantasy and Reality that runs through the show.
Because of the huge part America plays in the show, a month before the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I took the material to America to try it out and work through. I really enjoyed this part of the preparation process. I compiled a video showing the preparation and that is the surprise “Easter Egg” video that you see if you scan the barcode on my flyer. You can also see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkPX6yJZSvI
A Woman’s Beauty
A lot of the material in this section tends to be seen as the most controversial in the show. I think female beauty is so commodified in our society that it needs some insight especially as I go through the journey as a man looking for a wife.
The first few jokes are intentionally not crowd pleasers but I believe they are funny because of how ridiculous they are. I use this section to be honest and check myself and my own indoctrinated ways of thinking. I try to challenge them and even try to solve the problems in the most unbelievably stupid way ever.
Eventually, the conclusion is to look at what the root of the problem is then I concede there’s nothing I can actually do about it (but I do find a way to use it to my advantage, for the punchline). This material is informed by my daily conversations, especially on Facebook, with feminists, women who identify as otherwise and even men on such issues. The conclusions I draw are that it’s not wrong for to want my future wife to be beautiful but I concede that our society places way too much of a woman’s value on her looks. This feeds the fantasy narrative as women are essentially given unattainable standards of beauty (think of the L’Oreal section).
However, we all know what women look like and so as a society we have to find a way to marry ideas of beauty with the reality of women. Living in the fantasy leaves me as a mean person who expects a standard of beauty. The reality is, women do aspire to beauty, and it is important to me find my wife beautiful.
Lastly on the subject of being a man, talking about women and beauty, there is an agenda there in itself. I want to be able to deal with subjects, especially those that reach outside me. If we’re honest, a lot of male comics don’t know how to approach women from a stage perspective and usually go to the extremes of being outrightly misogynistic without a hint of irony, or pander to women and just tell them how great, beautiful and smart they are (which I hate just as much). From what I’ve understood, women are human beings too. If they’re at a comedy show, they don’t need to be attacked, neither do they need to be wrapped in cotton wool so how about we be frank and open up a real conversation. There are plenty of female comics who can give you greater insight to the same issues from their perspective but as a social commentator and a man seeking a wife I have my own salient points to make. I sincerely hope they do come across at some point.
My Last Two Relationships
It’s a sensitive area for me to include these relationships in the story as I’m very much aware that each woman involved is a human being I loved and saw myself marrying at some point in my life. I cannot cover all the intricacies of those relationships and so I simply draw on the points that forward the narrative.
If you’re not sure, all you need to know is that each of them satisfy an aspect of my fantasy woman (American and Beautiful) but both lack a certain feasibility and connection to a marriage reality for me. At first it’s long distance but the next relationship is with a woman who lives 10 minutes away from me and it still doesn’t work.
A sneaky line you may have picked up on is that when I refer to my ex-fiancee I say that “i’m convinced my future wife has been right under my nose the whole time”. This is true, but I’m not talking about her.
Everything I say about the rom com aspects of my marriage are true, regarding the birthdays and the nicknames. It is also true that I have “Me With No T” inscribed on my wedding ring and my wife has “Me With A T”. The train station joke and the Dubai story are both true. The voicemail bit is just a gag unfortunately.
The reference to the eBook “Dear Future Wife” is also true. It can be found here: http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-ola-dear-future-wife/
The book explains the story of how it came about. I wrote it at a time where my wife and I were transitioning from friends to lovers and things didn’t look so promising.
I hope you have enjoyed the anthology and if you’ve seen the show, I hope it has given you a newfound appreciation for the piece. If you haven’t seen the show, I hope you’re intrigued enough to come and watch it.