I got my first Covid vaccination, at Ashton Gate Stadium, on Monday March 15th. Hev had hers a week earlier. We have made the first big steps towards recovery which makes reading my diary from March 2020 a curious experience. An odd mix of doubt, optimism and pessimism fills those pages.
As for March 2021, it feels very much like business as usual. I have had almost as many Comic Art Masterclasses as I did a year ago, albeit online, and have had both comic strips to draw and Socks shows to perform. Indeed I may be getting a bit heavily into the open mic circuit, just in time for online gigs to wind up and schlepping around the country with my socks set to return. Here's what my busy March schedule looked like...
Comic Art Masterclasses
Mar 1 - Latymer Prep (inc Claudia Winkleman's son, and other celebrity kids unidentified)
Mar 3 - Renfrewshire Library Will Eisner classes (one very empty, 4 kids, as it was a schoolday)
Mar 4 - John Hapmden Primary
Mar 6 - Class Bento class, organised by me, attended by fewest pupils ever (3)
Mar 7 - Class Bento Party Class - better attended, this is where they specialise
Mar 16 - Rothbury, Hexham Book Fest classes, kids now back in classroom, so sound issues
Mar 18 & 19 - Chantry, Hexham classes. Kids in classroom, even worse sound issues
March 20 - Zion class, good turnout, good to have them on individual screens again. Did an interview on Radio Bristol beforehand, great fun.
In comparison to 2021's 8 days of classes, March 2020 managed 11 days of classes before the rest got cancelled (final live class was March 14th 2020), so we're not quite up to the old hit rate, but we might get there soon.
Mar 1 - Global Comedy Hour. Good line up, small audience.
Mar 5 - Virtually Hilarious. Good size audience (40+), good quality acts (at least one poached for Social Club), good quality presentation.
Mar 11 - Tokyo Stand Up. More a meeting of half a dozen comics than a show.
Mar 14 - International Comedy. From Tel Aviv, audience mostly acts themselves, low key.
Mar 16 - Late Stage. Audience 30+ v good, good adverts, good quality line up, weekly shows
Mar 18 - Jolters Barrel Of Laughs. Audience 40+, local crowd, friendly, mixed quality acts
Mar 19 - Talking Of Changing The Subject. Solo show, some say funniest yet. 40 paying punters.
Mar 21 - Freudian Slips. Streamyard (so no visible audience), mixed bag of variety & art.
Mar 23 - G&B Character Comedy. Audience mostly acts + 3 or 4 guests, mixed variety acts inc magic, good technical presentation.
Mar 26 - Henn's Night. Streamyard (no vis. audience) V good technical presentation, fun mix of acts.
Mar 28 - Dean Friedman Show
Mar 29 - Unmuted, from Melbourne Australia, at 11 in the morning. Audience mostly acts themselves, but good fun and we've been invited back to host next time.
Considering March 2020 had no Socks gigs whatsoever (our last show was February, and March's events were all cancelled) this is quite the improvement on a year ago.
Comics wise I have written and drawn a second three-page Space Elain strip (which I have yet to letter and colour). This rate of three pages a month doesn't quite compare to 2020 when, having produced 125 pages of Findlay Macbeth before the pandemic, I began Prince Of Denmark Street in March and drew 120 pages of it through April, repeating this feat with Midsummer Night's Dream Team later in the summer. My plan to get book four, Twelfth Thing, written and drawn before Christmas was overly optimistic. I have still to finish writing it, and as for when I might start drawing it, we'll have to wait till the classes and the comedy shows dry up for that to happen. It's good to be busy, but it was great to have time to produce three whole books in a year. 2020, we won't see its like again.
March 2: How many Zoom gigs did I have to google until I learned that UTC and GMT are the same thing!
Did everyone else know about UTC except me?
March 7: Just watched the movie Us. I have some questions (spoiler alert)
(NB I've just read the plot again on Wikipedia and it explains the Tethered origin better than I got from the film, I think we were getting bored by that point. Still doesn't answer whether there's one for everyone in the world, or even America).
March 10: Where & when did the stand up comedy brick wall originate?
March 14: Talking of changing the subject, who else is thinking of doing outdoor gigs? In my memory, outdoor comedy gigs are always rubbish cos you can't hear the audience laughing, but because of this half-lockdown situation lasting for the next few months, it might be worth a punt.
Quick, someone talk me out of it.
March 14: Is anyone else slightly fearing the end of lockdown? I have got so into the swing of doing online comic classes and gigs that I don't want them to end.
March 15: I once had to make the decision of going to a party with my mates, or with my Irish cousin. It was a no Brainne.
March 16: Top 10 TV Satire Shows (British) - When The Mash Report got cancelled last week, I drew up a Top 10 that I was going to turn into a piece and didn't. Still here's the list I drew up. What did I miss?
Go on, what's wrong about that lot?
March 18: Has everyone else been watching Resident Alien? It's currently our favourite TV show, and its position in our favourites list is helped by the fact that it's released in weekly episodes so you can't binge it and forget it in a weekend.
Oh, and it's family friendly, which is an increasingly rare thing these days (I would argue it's harder to write a comedy drama that entertains a wide audience than a niche genre crowd) . You really shouldn't miss this gem.
March 21: Line Of Duty: this isn't a spoiler, but where did the term "Chiz" suddenly come from?
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres - AND NOW ONLINE on ZOOM. email for details. His debut graphic novels Findlay Macbeth , The Prince Of Denmark Street and The Midsummer Night's Dream Team are available on Amazon. Follow Kev on Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here.