I WAS going to write a column about the dangers and rewards of psychological honesty when writing my book, I’m a Joke and So Are You, but I got distracted and forgot to plug it and hence, this awkward and transparent huckstering paragraph at the start.

One of the marks of a comedian is the speed in which they look at loss, disaster and personal chaos and think, “hmmmm, I wonder if there is a 10-minute routine in this?” Often, this is with little thought for the others involved. The laughter potential outweighing the collateral damage.

When I was at the Edinburgh Fringe and received news from my wife that our basement flat was knee-deep in a flood of sewage, perhaps my reaction should have been to get straight to the airport with a brand new mop.

Instead my reaction was to take to the stage and to deliver an improvised monologue of fury that ended with the apoplectic cry: “Never try and attain anything beautiful, because in the end, someone will always poo on it.”

Stewart Lee thought it was the best routine he had seen me perform and sadly, I was never able to perform it again. 

The proximity to the loss of 1000 LPs, stacks of books, oh, and somewhere to live, was what made the routine spin and fly, within 72 hours, I was going through the motions of mourning the loss of all those Morrissey vinyl rarities. Looking back, those fractured pipes were delivering me a message about his future proclamations and saving me time.

In the post-war world of comedy, as numerous documentaries have gleefully revealed, stand-up comedians were wearing masks to hide the reality of their sexuality, alcoholism, misanthropy or general fog of self-hate.

Now, an increasing number of comedians put the very things they were once supposed to be hiding on display for laughs, acclaim and for their own sanity. 

Sometimes it even helps the sanity of others. Turning your confusion at existence into punchlines can be useful.

Glasgow Times:

I have usually been careful when involving my family. My son has made numerous anecdotal appearances in my show. I wonder if the real reason behind having a child was writer’s block. (best punchline from him so far “But don’t say it was me, say it was mummy”, you’ll have to pay to see the set-up) With almost every solo show I have created, whether about Charles Darwin, art galleries or Nick Cave, my son has created a scenario that has fitted in perfectly with the requirements of the story. 

It’s almost as if he has known what I need since the age of three. When he carts me off to a home, I will not berate him too much, he has earned his keep. With the rest of my family, I am more careful.

My wife doesn’t really enjoy cameos in a set-up punchline situation. When I decided to take a break from stand-up, my wife found out via a newspaper article rather than me in person. She rang me in a state of agitation. “You can’t stop stand-up, how will we live?”

I thought she meant financially.

I misjudged.

What she really meant was, “oh my god, you are going to be around the house the whole bloody time.”

Anyone reading this who travels will know, the love of your partner is in direct proportion to your distance from home. The further away, the greater the love. Love is high when you are in Wellington, New Zealand, still strong in Boston, but by the time you’ve got to Stirling…

No-one was more loved than Neil Armstrong on 20th July, 1969.

By the 1st August, “NEIL! You’ve left moondust all over the settee…get into the garden and shake your boots out.”

Eventually, when I went back to stand-up, the conversation became part of a routine. I mulled over that moment when your partner looks at you and, despite the knowledge of love, as they see the mess you’ve created in the house with a look of “Hmmmm, but would I be happier as a melancholy widow”. I thought this story was safe as my wife rarely comes to my gigs.

I had misjudged again and found out she was going to attend.

I had to reveal all before she was sat in the stalls. I told her she appeared in a routine but that I was the butt of the joke.

“Obviously,” she replied.

The tension built as I tried to recall the piece word by word, I came to the “melancholy widow” punchline.

She beamed. “Oh, don’t worry about that, I’ve spoken to loads of my friends and we spent a lot of time wondering if we’d be happier if you were lost or dead.”

The routine remained. There was no collateral damage…this time, though I still check my bedtime warm milk to make sure it doesn’t taste of almonds.

For more details visit www.thestand.co.uk/glasgow