By Nigel Blundell
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An awful house mix of one of the songs slunk unnoticed into the gay clubs as a white label, with the classical section in the middle that redeemed it snipped out. I was hugely relieved when the whole deal finally died. We worked on the show from spring 2000 to the autumn of 2001 for nothing, before getting a salary at the National, but we ended up waiving our royalties towards the end of the West End run to cover a legal battle with the Daily Mail. I used up all my savings to work on the show. * * But I wouldn’t have traded the experience of collaborating with Richard, Rob Thirtle and Julian Crouch from Improbable Theatre, David Soul, who played our final London Jerry, and the rest of the cast and creative team for a lifetime’s worth of tickets to We Will Rock You.
Our manager’s hustling had worked. Maybe we’d even get paid. That same summer, I wrote and performed a little theatre piece I’d also ‘scratched’ at BAC, Pea Green Boat, at the Traverse in Edinburgh, dealing directly with the theatre via the promoter Hils Jago. I made £600. It was the first money I’d earned in Edinburgh in twelve years, since the £450 I got as one of the four acts in Comedy Zone in 1991. Things were looking up. But three years later, after all the awards, and after steering a cast of now nearly fifty through the ever-expanding show and moving it from the cocoon of the National Theatre to the bloody commercial reality of its West End run, there were things I realised about the production, and by implication the wider world, that thrust me back towards stand-up.
Howard, Ray Bradbury or Stan Lee, and then later a writer of thrillingly inclined philosophy, like Albert Camus, Franz Kafka or Samuel Beckett. But then, at the age of sixteen, I saw a comedian called Ted Chippington open for The Fall in Birmingham in October 1984 and literature’s loss became stand-up comedy’s loss also. However, unlike generations of would-be comedians before me or after me, I never really wanted to be a ‘comedian’. * * The editor of this book worries there might be people perusing this introduction who were born in the eighties, or even the nineties, and who will therefore need help understanding the archaic term ‘Alternative Comedy’.