I have never been hugely patient. When I was a newly graduated actor the idea of sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring seemed strange to me. It was for this reason that I sometimes took jobs others would have said no to: balancing a sheet over my head with a velcro carrot nose attached to it, in the role of “Snow Child” was one particular highlight. It was also, in part, why I eventually started to make my own comedy work. The comedy circuit is wonderful for those of us with impatient minds and itchy feet who would rather perform to five tourists and the compere’s Dad than sit at home, phone in hand.
Little did I know however, that making one’s own work involves endless admin and therefore a good deal of waiting around too. Waiting for promotors, venues, reviewers to get back to you, reviews to be published, whatever it may be there’s a lot of waiting out there. And – Oh Edinburgh Fringe! What a Can of expensive and slow moving worms that is. I am currently waiting to hear about several things; an audition (although as the years go by I can genuinely say that I am usually able to put the “walk out of the door and forget about it” in to practise now), some fairly pivotal stuff to do with my own show and for a loved one to have a major operation.
It’s a funny feeling, a bit like someone has unsealed your brain with a tin opener and let the contents out in to the air where they roam free: unfocused and fuzzy like the cloud of dirt that hangs over Pig Pen’s head in the Peanuts comic strip*. Waiting is a tedious hinterland to be in, especially for those people who like to be proactive. There are only so many times you can watch The Millionaire Matchmaker in the afternoon and feel ok about your own existence.
Modern life is not kind to impatient waiters. Facebook telling you when people have read your message but not replied is about as helpful as an Imp yelling “Wah gutted!” In your face and as for those dots on IPhone texts! Yikes. The only thing worse than those dots (when you’re waiting for a response) is when the dots vanish, along with the answer. Like a nonchalant thief strolling off in to the night. A thief without a diary.
How do people deal with periods of limbo? What do you do? Once you’ve done all the fun stuff like been for a run in the mud and sorted out your pants drawer and done all your invoices that is….
Here are some things I recommend.
1) Surround yourself with your finest friends. There are few things in life that can’t be made better by pizza and telly and funny, kind people.
2) Improvise. Sorry, I know that’s not relevant to everyone, but for geeky improvisers like me there is something hugely helpful about being in the moment and playing and discovering things.
3) Make something. Anything. Bake a cake, write a poem, photoshop your friend’s head on to a picture of a koala, whatever it is the act of being absorbed in something purely for the sake of creation and the sense of satisfaction that comes with it when it’s completed, can only be a good thing.
4) Prescribe yourself some amazing comedy. Inside No. 9 and The Walshes for a start. On a related note watch The Widower. It’s not comedy. Definitely not. Not at all. Far from it. My God it’s creepy. But you can marvel at Reece Sheersmith’s chilling talent and be horrified by the true story all at once.
And finally –
5) Learn the plastic trombone. It’s a bit specific, but that’s what my “loved one waiting for an operation” is currently doing.
* Apologies for the convoluted and highly specific analogy.That’s what happens when you have too much time to think….. Incidentally did you ever read Peanuts? It was brilliant (funny and poignant) and I have always thought of its creator Charles M. Schulz as the Chekov of the cartoon strip world. Maybe reading Peanuts would be another good way to successfully kill time. Certainly if you read to the end of this asterisk** then well done. You’ve killed some more.
**Unintentional comic strip pun….. Now I can only think of the rambunctious Gaul. I used to love that cartoon too. But Chekovian it was not.