It was the 16th March 2020. On the bill was Susan Murray, Tim Vine was headlining, and I was the surprise package for the audience. The gig was at the Outside The Box Comedy Club in Kingston-upon-Thames, run my Maff Brown. I had no idea Tim Vine was on until I arrived at the gig. It was packed, but not my 350-plus crowd.
Before going on stage, I was listening to the news. My rival, Boris Johnson, was dictating instructions to the British people to avoid pubs and theatres. I switched off immediately knowing full well that something was up. This might be my last gig. I did envy watching Boris Johnson instructing the British public though. It was the closest thing to Britain achieving my life’s ambition of having a dictatorship.
The MC announced my name, and oh yes! I was on stage shooting jokes to an audience who thought Tim Vine was closing. Tim had left. I knew I was killing from the response I received. I left the stage, thanking the crowd, and the usual thing happened – audience members breached security and asked for pictures and stated how brilliant I was and so on.
I told my driver to drive off, knowing full well this was my last gig. I had no idea how or when I would get back on stage. The next day, the cancellations came in thick and fast, lots of gigs falling like a pack of cards. It felt like I had been cancelled. The Reginald D Hunter preview show was cancelled. And the last straw was the Edinburgh Fringe being cancelled. I had diverted some of Britain’s Foreign Aid funds for my trip.
Edinburgh was going to be my chance to tell my story about the attempted coup by E4 and BBC studios last year. In 2019, I won the Malcolm Hardee Award as the Act Most Likely To Make A Million Quid, an award Trevor Noah won in 2012. With the attempted coup last year and my profile raised, I thought I was on the journey to breaking through. It was finally worth giving up running a country on a temporary basis to perform live comedy in the UK.
Ten weeks after Boris Johnson made his announcement, effectively putting me under house arrest – it’s no coincidence he ended up in hospital – I am questioning my decision. With all live work disappearing, I am not so sure giving up running a country to perform live comedy was such a brilliant idea.
I had a plan after arriving for a state visit 11 years ago. Watching how British politics was in such a bad state and with the chances of a military coup slim, I thought why not go into live comedy to win the hearts and minds of the British public? Resign from the Lafta Republic Army, go into politics and then get elected as a civilian Prime Minister. After all, politics is a joke, politicians are jokers just like comedians.
The support I received last year from the comedy community and from audiences over the last 11 years demonstrate that I was on the right track, until General Covid arrived to put a stop to my ambitions. It’s not like I was earning much from the live comedy scene. It was not even enough to feed my wives. I did it for my ambition to take over Britain and lead the country from the crisis of Brexit.
Ten weeks after losing most of my live work – in effect, losing contact with the hearts and minds of the British people – my ambitions are up in the air. My existing audience – the ones who were loyal and kept in touch with me – have been entertained through my live streams. But as much as they enjoy it, I am the president of a great nation and I am not attracting the same views as President Trump or Boris Johnson. I have found twitter painful; I am nowhere near President Trump’s retweet numbers. It does not help when I read on twitter “the President is mad”. I automatically assume they are referring to me, when they mean Trump.
It also feels strange that the comedy community I let into my world 11 years ago seems to have disappeared since the 16th March. I missed being in power and thought it would be a great idea to run for office. So I put my name forward for the Chair of the Live Comedy Association steering group. I did not win which was a kick in the teeth considering I was the least democratic person to put my name forward.
It’s funny how General Covid has changed my world. I am neither president of a country or a comedian. I am like a former president sentenced by The Hague for crimes against comedy, waiting to be released. I am waiting for freedom. Whilst comedians in the industry have had to take on other jobs to survive, it’s impossible to return to running Lafta Republic. It never existed. I am lost and frustrated with the British Government’s response to Covid. I know I could do a better job. If not for General Covid, I would be on the road to power.