A Personal Taste of Nelson de Gouveia

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What I do/don’t want from Comedy

in Comedy by
want from comedy

I think about what I want or don’t want from comedy, and I find that I do this little thing and enjoy the standing up in front of a strange crowd, telling jokes about my past awkwardness and misadventures, while at the same time edge quietly towards being edgy as a host, but I’ve got the feeling my public persona doesn’t fit a profile that either hits the mainstream hard or swims in the obscurity of cult status.

So, to explain my motives, here are my ambitions and avoidances of Comedy:

  • DO: want to eventually be performing in front of big crowds. I feel at home with a lot of people warmed up to the idea of a stock comedian making them laugh.
  • DON’T: want to continue into my 70’s performing in front of tiny open-mic crowds.
  • DO: want to work with talented people I gel with, to brainstorm awesome ideas and create a semblance of community that serves the general public in many forms of entertainment.
  • DON’T: want to work with guys looking for a quick jump-start to short-term fame.
  • DO: want to develop television or radio schemes with others and be part of a creative group with resources to turn it around in a short space of time. I’ve already written a few, need to start pitching it to a talented guy I’ve recently met.
  • DON’T: want to agree to flimsy promises that never take fruit thanks to ignorance.
  • DO: want to write for a magazine, newspaper or website that accepts my unexplored views on everything from life, love to laundry.
  • DON’T: want to be limited only to this blog.
  • DO: want to make the people I love proud, to show that their support for my abilities aren’t unfounded and that they can share in the fruits of my efforts in hichever way they wish.
  • DON’T: want to be told I’ll never make something of myself because I’m white, single, foreign or never attained a degree/diploma (that one was based on funds).
  • DO: want to “stand before kings, and leave a name to be remembered.” – Benjamin Franklin
  • DON’T: want to be forgotten.

On a dark and stormy night… (a writing exercise)

in Life by
going online mastrubation
In most occasions, I tend to try and write specifically about a subject, but on this occasion I don’t have one…yet, as I just described to my sister-in-law, I do enjoy using the first line, “On a dark and stormy night…” to meander off into subsequent variations of the theme before reaching the point, in order to jump-start the creative process.

And here’s the result.

On a dark and stormy night…

…well, a slightly dark and stormy night, really. In July in the southern hemisphere. And but slightly, I really mean sort-of dusky with a small chance of drizzle.

And when I mean by stormy, really some drizzle with the possibility that your eyes will seem accustomed to the African sun after a few months of the blanket of clouds hanging overcast like a comfort pillow thrown over by an over-protective mother that still loves you despite yelling you a few hours before for leaving your bike out in the yard.

And when I mean drizzle at dusk, I really mean an occasional smattering of one or two droplets descending upon the earth like a few Spartans entering a battle…without their mates, resulting in totally defeat by the Persian horde, that sort of smattering.

And dusk is such a relative term. I would say about 9am, the sun easily penetrating the window like a geriatric peeping Tom with a pace-maker that ticks away like the timepiece in the crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand from Peter Pan, the old badger ruffling through the plants trying to find a good view up your nose as your bed faces feet first towards the window.

So anyway, on a slightly morning-ish time of the day with a slight smattering of droplets…I discovered you can get Jews on a train far more easily if you charged them half.

The End.

Hanging out with Dad #5heartattackswontstopme

in Life by
dad

I’ve been here two months, did a few shows, got into a few interviews and caught up with a few friends and family. But nothing, so far, has been as awe-inspiring as spending time with my Dad.

I wrote a joke back in London about my dad saving me from something when I was very small, which is part of the bigger truth, of the bond between us I missed for so long growing up in a matriarchal home. But now, after 12 years away, I’ve been relishing the little moments we share together, for as a teenager I never fully appreciated the impact he had on me, and in his twilight years fraught with medical uncertainty for his health, I aim to take the time to enjoy every moment.

In a nutshell…he may be the quiet one at the back you should look out for, but in my life one of the funniest men I’ve ever known.
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Comedy not Jazz background

in Comedy by
comedy not jazz background

Ever heard of comedy not jazz background for your conversation? So tonight I had the joy of opening up Comics@Work at the Armchair Theatre in Observatory, and a small table began to talk amongst themselves.

Which is fine for any Tom, Dick and Harry comedian, as it portrays a lack of enthusiasm for the comedian and the show itself on most occasion, and it is up to the performer to entertain the crowd to a point where everyone’s attention is suddenly transfixed at the silliness, the punch lines, the charisma.

But knuckleheadedness reared it’s fat, ugly, greasy sonofabitch head tonight with this table.

What began as simply each comedian getting slightly distracted by this group of fascist actor/jobless knowitalls turned into an all-out conversation throughout the entire show, with compere Christopher Steenkamp having to request their silence at the interval for the second-half, only to be met half-heatedly with a biligerent “no”, like the man himself held the crown jewels of England between his legs and his own ass was made from gold and reeked of nutmeg.

After the show, a stand-off occurred where said compere (balls to the max) confronted them once more and a shouting match occur, whereupon said Crown Jewels man gave a comment I will never forget:

“Hey, freedom of speech, k?”

As a comedian pointed out so thoughtfully tonight, they basically sat there talking about their amazing yet fruitless and wasted lives with the comedy as jazz music background. Thank you, actors, thank you so much for belittling the spoken word craft that you cannot succeed in yourselves. You’ll be seeing at least some of us in magazines touting our comedy shows and DVD’s long before you get to be extras in porn films as pot-plants.

Comics@Work

Going Offline: Day 54 – Going Online

in Life by
going online

I know, I know, ironic huh? Nelson harped on for ages about his addiction to going online on Facebook and wanted to get off it as it was so time-consuming and affected his relationship with other people, his performance in work, and wrote a few short blog-posts bleeding his heart to the wide world of human beings about his fragile ego needing a rest from a virtual fashion show of people’s lives.

And then he’s back on it.

Well, if you haven’t seen by now, I’m in South Africa spending time with la familia, my dad having been ill for so long and me wanting to be around him before time runs out. But since 2 weeks ago, this I can see will impact greatly on my career in the videogames industry, fragile and precarious as it once was before.

And now, I need Facebook…to contact people.

For all my good intentions of shooting the proverbial shit with my dad and the rest of his brood, no one needs a producer in little ol’ Cape Town, and I found that out the hard way after 2 months of being strung along by someone. It’s time to step up, get off my bum-bum, rewrite my Curriculum Vitae and become a full-fledged rat-race chaser, doing whatever odds and ends necessary to pay for petroleum for a run-down ve-HIC-le that will take me places for work purposes AND for comedic endeavours.

In terms of Facebook, that means being exposed to people again, promoting comedy shows and varying my repertoire, talking to long-lost “pals” and convincing them that I’m a gorgeous good-looking, charming little piece of ass-et that you can’t do without.

AND THEN I’ll be offline, keeping my head down.

So, you can call me a hypocrite for being weak-minded…OR you can stand-up and say, “Nelson…there’s a guy that needs a handyman, I’ll send him your number.”

Yes, yes you can do that.

Going Offline – Day 3: Chewing at the Furniture

in Life by
furniture

Ok, so it’s getting harder now not to think about it. I’m coming across so many doubts in my mind about why I even deleted Facebook in the first place I’m chewing at the furniture, as I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying so many options before.

I could sit and chat to whomever I wanted, even though I never truly did, while on some occasions people just popped up a chat window and spoke to me instead.

Also, there’s a nagging fear in me that I’m closing doors on options that may come to me, from people that Iv’e networked with, and if they were to hear from me again maybe they may consider bringing me on for small bits of work that they’d need me.

It’s kind of like sitting in the corner of a pub and someone asking for your help to move a table. It’s not a big deal, but makes a guy feel useful.

But again, I’m not sure if I can implicitly accept that I should reconnect again. Should I? I’m putting myself in a precarious position. What if I need those same connections again? What if I return to London and find that I don’t have any other contact details apart from messaging them on Facebook? These past few days just trying to find anything to do that will add to my coffers has been pretty much fruitless.

I don’t just miss the friends I’ve made, I also miss the possible connections towards a better life.

12 more days till I regret my decision…

Going Offline – Day 2: Still have the option

in Life by
option

So it’s the second day of my account deletion, and I received a mail from Facebook stating that I still have 13 days left to reconsider my decision to reactivate my account. Nice to have an option.

So, what are the pros and cons of me heading back to the site?

Pro: I’ve created a base of 800+ connections that will allow me to communicate my thoughts and ideas to everyone, including marketing myself out as a friend, a comedian or, in the current state that I’m in, a viable employable option amongst all the contacts I’ve created over the years working in the videogames industry.

Con: My addiction will kick in again and I’ll just sit there watching as other people update on their lives about how happy they are with their loved ones (my family live in South Africa) and the places they are at (I’m in a tiny flat in North London

Sufficed to say, it’s tempting.

Still, I’m allowing myself the use of Twitter as it is a clean and quick method of being around for people to interact with should they desire it, while at the same time using it again for the same purposes of communicating those same thoughts, ideas and the projects I’m involving myself in to keep the time going.

Ray Presto R.I.P. 1938 – 2012

in Comedy by
ray presto

Obituaries are a fickle sort, especially when written about someone you hardly, truely and deeply, know. Ray Presto (real name David Shaw), a retired magician and stalwart comedian on the London open-mic scene, passed away from the ranks of the down-trodden and frail, a small and weak man with all the characteristics of a downtrodden and beaten entertainer, but with the amazing twinkle of a professional who consistently plowed through to find his audience.

A lot of comedians and audiences recently remember him from his abnormal sets at the Comedy Store Gong Show, a gauntlet of boo’s and hisses from punters willing to give him the benefit of the doubt based solely on his own innocence and lack of self-awareness at his own fickle delivery.

What I didn’t know was his accomplishment as an author, publishing a book in 1972 called Choose Your Pleasure, a collection of essays of the pros and cons of hedonism and self-indulgence. You can find two more remaining books (I bought the cheapest as of writing this post) here.

ADVICE

Digressing back, my point is of my own meeting with him, my first and only time so far I’ve ever had to share the stage with such an amicable character. Above the Coach & Horses in Soho, prior to the Health & Safety incident with Laughing Horse beau Alex Petty (where a speaker fell on his head), we gathered in the upstairs room with a tiny group of audience members unaware of what self-destruction they’ve just got themselves in for after paying the admission fee, and us likely mirth-soldiers made awkward attempts at laughter while the survivors stood to the side pondering their failures.

And Ray, his trousers high above his waist, his spine impossibly bending to the will of the situation, went along with extremely bad puns, raising his arms in the air like Christ but with a joke, and painted everyone’s face in the room with looks of shock like a wall-painter with a brush.

I was not awed by his performance, but I was envious of his resolve. And I made the leap, which I hardly do, to ask his advice on stand-up.

Eyes as huge and reminiscint of the late Marty Feldman (Igor in “Young Frankenstein”) he glanced at me with what could only be described as incredulity at my question and then dashing his eyes left and right, responded:

“Young man, I don’t know.”

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