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A hard week, a lovely gig, a tired but happy Wes Packer…

A hard week, a lovely gig, a tired but happy Wes Packer…

This week has been difficult. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve spent the last few weeks coming off one set of meds and onto another – with the new meds failing to counter the withdrawal from the old. So I’ve been dealing with withdrawal AND side effects. I’ve been on my arse, if I’m honest. The depression has been gradually lifting for a few days and the anxiety is doing the same, now that last night’s gig is over, but the physical exhaustion is a killer. I’m not sure if it’s withdrawal or side-effects or depression or anxiety burnout or a combination of a four but some mornings I physically cannot move for a few minutes after I’ve woken up and my body feels like it’s made of lead. Sometimes I feel the anxiety has drained me, sapped my strength, and other times it fees more neuro-chemical-ish. Whatever it is, it’s a pain in the ring and something I’ve been dealing with as best I can for a while now.

Getting to the gig was difficult. Last Friday, after a stressful week and no meds, I was exhausted, unable to get off the bed, and ready to quit comedy. I didn’t, and I’m glad. I have fought hard this week. I’ve worked my arse off all day every day and I’ve been feeling like hammered shit throughout but I want to be a stand-up comic and so I’ll do what I have to. I’m glad I fought, because I won.

It depends on your definition of ‘won’, obviously, but the biggest battle I had to fight last night was getting on stage. I’ve not been that nervous since my first gig at A Shot in The Dark on City Road all those years ago. I stopped my last-minute cramming at around five and had a shower. I dressed, made some tea and toast, and broke down crying. I cried for a while. I needed to.

A fucking good cry, some fresh air, and a wash later and I was ready to face the gig. I was still nervous, naturally, but the tears and wracking sobs had loosened a lot of tension that I’d been carrying so I felt more ready for it. It’s surprising how important the physical game is. Tightness, tension, and pain can all make me just uncomfortable enough to throw me off my game, I go onstage in the wrong kind of mood and it takes me a time to get into the groove of things. Like last night, I went on a little later than expected. No worries, this kind of thing usually happens, but I let myself drop back out of gear a little bit. I thought of a couple of introductory jokes while Paul was introducing me and weaved them into the intro, in my head, which I inevitably forgot on taking to the stage. The intro was as ropey as fuck.

I got into my stride after a while, realising that I was doing stand-up comedy at The Duke and not standing trial for something dicey, and I think we got there in the end. I’ll call it a home draw and I’ll take that at this early stage in the season.

For various depression and family-related reasons, I hadn’t been able to spend as much time working on the show as I’d have liked and so had to rely on a couple of old ‘bits’ to bolster the ideas that I’d not had time to flesh out yet. I think I spent longer on this than on the actual tale but when I eventually got to it, it worked a treat.

The whole thing was shonkey, in my opinion, as I expected. I’m happy, though. The big bits and main ideas worked so I now have a good framework on which I can build the show. That’s what I wanted, really: an indication that I’m not wasting my time.

If I can take anything from this at all, learn any lessons, it’s that preparation is key: if I want to be a professional then I have to think and act and work and prepare like one from now on. It’s a physically hard game, too. You wouldn’t realise how exhausted it can be unless you’ve done it, and I was never the kid they called “speedy” in school. Add to that the energy-sapping anxiety and physical weakness caused by the meds and you can imagine the state I’m in this morning. I wasn’t built for heat or hard work so I need to get myself physically fitter if I’m going to survive and thrive as a comedian.

We had a lovey packed house and Leroy Brito did the business in support, all held together by Paul James’ warm, soft, capable hands so, once again: thanks, Neath. I’ll be back next year to preview the final show before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe and I won’t forget Paul’s promise 😉

It’s Friday morning, a beautiful day in these scarred, old valleys. I’m listening to some Art Blakey and contemplating a walk down the town for a bacon roll and a brew.

I’ve been working hard, you know!