"That's my big brother just died" I said as I looked at the Facebook update his daughter posted. Would have been nice to have been told in a more intimate or sensitive way about the passing of my beloved bro, but hey-ho this is my family we are talking about. It was New Year’s Eve 2011 and I was about to go and do a gig to a sold out celebration comedy crowd. I couldn't pull out at the last minute on New Year's Eve....and do what? Stare at the Facebook update?
So, I pulled on a smile and dragged some lipstick across my sad mouth and headed into the club. It all went amazing, but my chest and lungs hurt with suppressing the shock and sadness. I kept staring at the laughing crowd thinking 'my brother is dead and I can't even get time to digest this' but they needed to laugh and he would have loved that I didn't cancel a show for him.
Comedy is one of those jobs, where you can't wear your pain on your face or express it in your work place. Jokes have to be done and a sparky demeanour has to be adopted.
I have done a comedy show right after a close family funeral, a child abuse trial and the night my daughter landed in hospital.
I know there are many jobs where personal circumstances have to be dampened and priority is given to the workplace, but not many where you have to tell jokes and hear people laugh as your soul feels like lead inside.
You can't tell the other comics about a recent death, unless it's another comic onstage, then tell that story in minute detail. If it's an actual family bereavement, you hush as you don't want to be the joke killer...you have to grin and bear it. Not everyone wants to witness a sad clown backstage...it's seen as unprofessional. Despite my comedian friends being the most bitter, twisted cynical bunch of folks you can find, they are also the most supportive and the way they convey their touching attitude is funny as well -
"Is your brother still dead Janey? That's a shame, is your mammy the one that was flung in the Clyde? Yeah...that's a funny story...anyway go out there and do your shizzle, see you on the other side" We bond over the gravity of life.
I am proud of my fellow comics, who have been through marriage breakdowns, cancer diagnosis, car crashes and yet immediately stood on stage and delivered the goods.
We are a hardy bunch of people and as I head to the Edinburgh Fringe with my daughter I want everyone to know that we comics put our heart and soul into our shows. We want everyone to have a good time, so come out and bring your laughing gear with you - hopefully nobody in my family dies the first week of our run.
So thanks for reading, if you want follow me on twitter @JaneyGodley for updates and daily shenanigans