From the year 2018, One Off Comedy’s secret weapon, Mat Wills, started to write weekly about his journey in professional stand up comedy. These are the written adventures and misadventures in the life of our precious funny short man.
Written on Friday 5th January 2018
Hello, I’m Mat.
Six months ago, I quit my 9 to 5 job that I loved. The reason? Because I wanted to scratch the itch I had of becoming a stand-up comedian.
People who know me constantly ask “How’s it going?” so for their benefit, and for mine, I’m committing to a weekly update (or blog if you prefer) and by announcing this I’m reliably informed it will make me accountable and I’ll have to stick to it.
From the age of four I’ve always wanted to perform. One of my earliest memories is from bath time and with just a towel wrapped around my head I remember walking up to my parents and announcing “I’m Jesus” before launching into a version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
It wasn’t quite what Andrew Lloyd Weber had depicted but my parents laughed. In fact, they ROFL’d which hadn’t even been invented then and I loved every glorious moment of it.
That desire to make people laugh stayed with me through school where I had an excellent Drama teacher, Mr Hendry, who saw that I was passionate about performance and encouraged me like no one else had before. Forward to the end of school where I took the conventional route and a ‘proper job’ and whilst performing popped into my head now and again I was mainly focused on earning enough money to drink and live a very debauched life as that’s what the 90’s were about.
The serious idea of performing didn’t cross my mind again until years later whilst I was on a ‘sabbatical’ living it up in South East Asia. At the time I was getting very smashed, with a friend, and she asked me what I’d really like to do. It was the first time I expressed that I wanted to be a comedian and it took me by surprise as I’d never said it aloud before. On the same trip, I learnt how to Skydive and the adrenaline rush I got from that gave me my kicks
I need kicks, it’s what makes me live. That is until I broke my neck in 2004 and I was told that unless I wanted to be crippled from the neck down I should never skydive again. So that was that….
Not having that rush made me miserable. Skydiving was the one thing in my life that kept me away from alcohol and drugs…. Although, having said that, breaking my neck helped me to discover the joys and sorrows of morphine, so every cloud. Post recovery I became depressed and a friend of mine, Janet, who was a comedian, suggested that I enrol in a stand-up comedy course. She was a great performer herself and I used to love watching her on stage. Taking her advice I enrolled and for 12 glorious weeks I hung out with people who I discovered had the same desires, and itches, that I had.
People on that course you may have heard of were;
James Mullingar – who wrote “The Comedians Survival Guide”, amongst other things.
Ed Aczel – Hardee Award winner and comedy legend.
Joey Page – A beautifully surreal and funny comedian.
Colin Owens – winner of ‘Jimmy Carr’s Comedy Idol’.
And last, but never least, one of my now best friends and the funniest man I’ve ever had the pleasure to be with: Mr. Jim Hooper.
That course, and those 12 weeks, gave me my kicks back.
I started to perform for a while but then stopped as a) life got in the way and b) I realised I just wasn’t very good.
Forward a few more years (I’ve skipped around a bit because this is not my autobiography) it took a drunken conversation with my partner who said to me that if I wanted to be a comedian she would help financially support me. Now I should say I didn’t want her money but I appreciated her loving gesture and even though she was a bit worse for wear the important thing was that she believed in me. This Comedian idea grew in my mind and in 2010 I got to the point where I had saved enough money to live without a ‘proper’ job for a few years and I quit my job so I could attempt to live out my dream
It started well and I was beginning to make some progress. Then I took a call from an old friend who offered me a big bag of corporate gold alongside the opportunity to work part time on my fledgling comedy career. With petrol costing what it does I accepted his kind offer as my funds were running low. The bag of gold and the corporate life stole me away from comedy briefly but it was a means to an end and, to be fair, it enabled me to fund a few years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
In 2016 I returned to Edinburgh, even though I’d only really been doing bits of comedy here and there, and I ambitiously went back with two shows to what is the World’s largest arts festival.
I was terrible.
I died twice a day in front of about 1500 people. Not in one room but overall. It destroyed me and so much so that on day one back in my job I told them I wanted to leave as I loved the feeling of being on stage and dying every day.
So in May 2017 I became a free agent once again and at this point my proper career as a comedian began.
No going back.
I wasn’t being sucked back in again.
Since then I’ve been writing, gigging, failing, laughing and I’ve been happy. I’m performing and four year old Mat Wills has finally got his kicks back and I’m once again singing “I’m Jesus Christ Superstar”.