Week 4: So I Caught My Pooh

26th January 2018 

Reading time 3 minutes 02 seconds

Today I was going to explain how my standard day looked but after posting last Friday’s update to Facebook a box arrived in the post…………..

The background;

As my continual health drive rolls boringly on I’ve noticed my energy levels are inconsistent, so I’ve decided to invest time, effort and money into seeing a specialist nutritionist to help resolve this.

My aims are;

Sleep better

Lose weight

Become healthier

Apparently my pooh is of upmost importance so we are starting there.

The box that arrived in the post was for this specific purpose and I’m unsure why but I was genuinely excited.

My bathroom experiences are unadventurous I’m in and out in 90 seconds. I consider myself very lucky, especially after hearing about my mates experiences. 

Once you’ve exhausted Football there’s very little else that my bloke mates talk about.

One time I blocked the toilet and to help move it along its way, for some weird reason I thought boiling water would do it. All I did though was poach a pooh for 5 hours.

Back to the stool sample collection as it’s medically known.

The box contained;


The receptacle with fluid inside to keep sample fresh.

Disposable gloves. 

Catching device.

Instruction 1:

Fit catching device across a toilet seat. 

This was a piece of toilet paper that fitted onto the seat forming a slim paper bridge.

Once this was in position I squatted and did what needed to be done. Regrettably I missed the catching device and heard a satisfying PLOP!

Two hours later I tried again. This time I was On-Target. 

Unfortunately the target broke. I can only guess this was due to Terminal velocity. 

I’ve often been told I’m full of shit and this was finally an advantage.

After researching a better catching device on The You Tube or as I was now calling it for the day The Pooh Tube I was again ready.

Attempts 3 was a success.

Instruction 2:

Remove lid from receptacle ensuring you’re not in a pressurised environment. 

Who is doing this on a plane? What confidence!

The receptacle had a very handy spoon built into the lid which meant I could return the tea spoon I had decided to sacrifice for this task.

Instruction 3: 

Scoop from different areas of sample into receptacle close lid and shake vigorously.

I’ve never been this close to my poo before. Initially I was quite fearful of this experience but now I couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness.

Upon dipping in the spoon I was very surprised by the consistency. 

I was accomplishing the task and I’ve had worse jobs [pun intended].

I sealed the lid and shook vigorously, the receptacle that is, not me.

I proudly looked at my achievement. Today was going to be a great day.

Instruction 4. 

Place receptacle into the Bio Hazard bag. 

Bio Hazard? 

I’ve produced a Bio Hazard!


Instruction 6.

Put back into box kit arrived in and post to the following address ensuring it arrives by 1pm the following day. 

Only send on Monday Tuesday or Wednesday it must be received within 24 hours of being placed in receptacle.

Surely this should’ve been instruction 1. 

It was Friday, a wasted Friday.

I then reread the instructions and at the very top it clearly stated:



It was at this point I decided to clean up. 

I should have just broken the toilet paper bridge and let it fall into the pan but I stupidly tried to remove it the same way it was installed. This meant my mess went everywhere.

It was then a thought crossed my mind that I should have worn the supplied disposable gloves.

Maybe today wouldn’t be such a good day

I now have to go back to the nutritionist and explain like I have to my many colleagues and managers in the past that I am the fool that rushes in where angels fear to tread and could I please have another go.

Week 3: How does Comedy work?

Friday 19th January 2018

Reading time 2 minutes 30 seconds

I had a double hip replacement in 2013 and the person I was then is not the person I am today. For example I’ve quit a lot of things over the last five years including;

Pain killers 

Pitying myself

Playing the Victim

Quitting stuff I start

Blaming others for me being a prick

My distaste for exercise

I’ve also failed at quitting all of the above but when I do I just quit it again.

Giving up those toxic things in my life feels as though I’m hitting the reset switch. A lot. 

Last year I also decided to hit the reset switch in my comedy and to go back to basics and in doing so I enrolled in a Beginners stand up course as I believe that every day is a school day and I’ve still got a lot to learn. 

I’ve realised that going back to school is fun.

It seems a bit odd, given that I’ve been gigging for a while, but in the past year I’ve sat on a few comedy workshops with other comedians and the feedback I’ve had is that I could be better. A Lot better. I’m also aware of this obvious fact.

Me being me I have taken this to mean I am awful hence why I am peddling back to square one.

Generally in a comedy workshop there are 10+ people and each person has to individually present 2 to 3 minutes of material. They are then critiqued by the facilitator (a pro comic) and the rest of the room (non pro comics). I call them peers. 

As a rule I tend to collapse when presenting my ideas in these workshops but I learn loads and that is why I continue to do them. So with the ‘could do better’ feedback in mind I decided to go back to the very beginning and re learn the basics. 

Don’t get me wrong I was worried about attending this course and last week was lesson one. It was brutal but I Ioved it, to a point……

Beforehand I’d already decided that I would probably be the most experienced in the room because this course was for beginners. Me being me I had also decided that I would be the worst. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and whilst I wasn’t the least experienced in the room I was worst. 

The first two non-pro comics presented and between them they had only done a handful of gigs, but both were excellent and the room laughed in all of the right places. 

Little old me went on third and I’m not just saying this for effect but I was awful. The room did not laugh. Not once. Not one laugh. Nada. Nothing. 

At the time, aside from being totally demoralised, I found it strange because all of that material had previously had a lot of laughs in lots of different places. I say a lot of laughs, but it’s all relative when compared to not getting any.

The teacher of this workshop is a stand-up comedian with 20 years’ experience and a person I admire. I often travel to Brighton just to watch him MC as I love the way his brain works. He’s so natural and comedic ideas flow out of him effortlessly. Obviously the effort has been put in over 20 years. 

I liken it to watching a musician performing jazz but without having to hear that crappy jazz sound. 

After I presented my stuff he took two of my jokes, changed the order of the words and the way they were delivered, and the room laughed.  It was amazing because he took my material and he made it good. In virtually zero seconds. I was in awe of him and acknowledged his was a much better way of presenting that particular material.

I got home and I talked to my long suffering Mrs. I explained the night in intricate, and quite boring, detail but in a very upbeat manner. When I finished my tall story she asked how I felt.

“Crushed” was my one word reply.

Good! Was the first word from her very mean mouth, once she’d stopped laughing that was. 

She was right though as I had signed up to learn and to paraphrase Master Yoda “Learning I was”.

Every day continues to be a school day…

Week 2: Dying on Stage

Reading time 4 minutes 20 seconds

Hello, I had some kind words from my introduction last week, thanks Dave . 

As a follow up, and as requested by some, I would like to share my worst ‘on stage’ failure. 

When a stand-up has a terrible gig, it is known as ‘Dying’ but when they have a really good gig it is called ‘Killing’. 

Either way it results in death and anecdotally I’ve heard that Killing produces a greater feeling than Dying. 

I’ve snuffed it on stage several times in the last 6 months but the one that gives me a reoccurring nightmare and wakes up my Mrs with me screaming out in my sleep was from the night I died in Burton upon Trent. 

The story is this….

I had offered to drive a car full of professional comedians to a comedy night in exchange for 10 minutes on stage. 

In my experience the Comedians’ car share is a masterclass in comedy as I normally learn more from the car journey than I do from being on stage. These people, on that journey, were incredibly funny and to be honest I was feeling out of my depth and intimidated by the talent around me. Imposter syndrome kicked in. “Why had I agreed to do this?” I convinced myself I wasn’t ready but I knew I had worked on my routine and it was funny. I rehearsed it in front of several drunk people in a pub in Folkestone and they cracked up so I convinced myself I would be fine.

The audience in Burton had paid about £10 each and there were over a hundred over them. The MC warmed them up and the first act went on. He was excellent and my confidence started leaving me quicker than my cash at a petrol station.

Then it was my turn. 

What struck me was that I was performing at a professional gig after only 3 months of trying. It takes some people years yet I was there. I’d nailed it! My name was announced, I walked onto the stage and got a laugh. Hurrah. Within seconds of my opening monologue I tripped over a line. I looked at the audience and knew they had gone and I still I had 9 minutes and 40 seconds remaining. I clearly hadn’t nailed it. I’d just smashed my thumb with the world’s biggest hammer in front of a lot of people.


I ploughed on to a quiet room and the only thing breaking the silence were the pins dropping from the sky. I’d died before, quite a lot in fact, but this felt different so after 7 minutes I decided to say thank you and I walked off. The audience had suffered enough and the pity looks had been replaced by looks of contempt and pure anger. Not only that but observing 100 people glancing at their watches in unison, while attempting to make them laugh, hurts the soul.

Collectively they had wasted 11 hours watching me. That’s more than a day’s work, or two depending who you’re working with. The MC wasn’t prepared for the early exit however and he jumped up onto the stage simultaneously losing his footing and planting his face at my feet. A gasp went up…….. which actually broke the deafening silence.

The MC was now rolling around on the stage in pain as he’d really hurt his knee. I collected myself as I was unsure of the correct etiquette. Should I stay and help him or should I run away? 

I went to help him up but like a true professional he sprang to his feet, said something funny and the crowd chuckled. He continued to warm them up for a few minutes, reminded them how to laugh again, and bought on another act who was fantastic and removed any thoughts I’d had that maybe the audience were terrible and I wasn’t. 

Later I asked the MC what I had done wrong, I’m sure he wanted to say all of it, but he was very kind and he explained that my setup was too long before the punchline. He then laughed and told me not to worry about it……….all the time rubbing his knee. 

The headline comedian, who I really admired, went on and killed. He was funny and even in my pain he had me laughing. 

The four of us then spent the next 5 hours in a car driving back home. My failure was not discussed, although I wanted to ask for more advice but I was too embarrassed. 

The next day I emailed the promoter to apologise. He was also kind and told me that everyone goes through this and that he would still book me. Secretly I knew this was only because I had a car and was willing to drive other people about for stage time and not because I was funny.

My mate Sparky once had a Cab driver who had only been driving for a week. When he was asked how it was going he said “steering very easy, braking very hard”. I envy that cabbie as I’m not finding any of what I do easy. 

That Burton on Trent gig haunts me to this day but I do laugh about it now and find it cathartic talking about it. The thing is I know that there will be more terrible gigs in mine and my audience’s future. I’ve since learned that if you have a very traumatic experience you should play 10 minutes of Tetris within the first 24 hours of the event and this will help you not develop PTSD…… Although it’s too late for me and the lovely people in Burton.

Week 1: My First Ever “Blog”

Friday 5th January 2018 

Reading time 2 minutes 36 seconds

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 it.

The Why:

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 I that 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”