Finding your voice
It’s now well into the third week of The Fringe and some of my fellow comedians are starting to have sore throats.
It’s common amongst entertainers at The Fringe to experience this as they do multiple shows each and every day for about four weeks fitted around a debauched and drunken lifestyle where the adrenaline normally drives all night bevvy sessions!
I used to experience voice problems where my vocal chords would completely sieze up and I would be unable to let out not much more than a whisper.
I went to see doctors and speech therapists at the hospital and they told me my vocal style and lifestyle choices were only part of my problem but the real issue was anxiety!
Fuck off, what have I got be anxious about?
In reality, quite a lot!
Stand-up comedy can be tough, not simply because when you go on stage you run the risk of dying on your arse but also because I am self-employed, I have no sick pay or holiday pay and if I cannot work then I cannot earn!
Especially if you sometimes don’t feel very funny or you lose your mojo from time to time.
And it can happen!
Mostly, when it does happen, it’s down to fear, fear of failure!
Sometimes this can be a good motivator as you are so shit scared you go onstage and rip the place up, at other times, however, you go onstage and you are so full of fear it manifests itself as pure aggression!
When this happens you’re doomed.
You’re on-stage and you’re saying all the same words and doing all the same routines that normally work for you, but the vibe is all wrong, your inflection is off!
And when this happens the audience simply look at you and ask themselves what’s this fuckin’ nutter’s problem?
This happened to me once on a cruise ship in the Adriatic.
Dying on your Arse (Again)
There I was, being paid £800 per week to do two x 30 minute shows on a floating five star hotel and everything was on the house. I was in heaven and I remember thinking at the time “This is the life, stick in here and don’t fuck this up!”
But, that’s exactly what I did do, I made a complete arse of it!
I died on my chuff and that’s bad enough but when you die on a cruise ship you can’t get off the boat!
Then there’s the passengers. They have absolutely no problem whatever in coming up to you the next day and telling you how shite you are and saying you ruined their holiday!
It got so bad and embarrassing on that particular trip, that I locked myself in my cabin and only ventured out at 4 o’clock in the morning to forage for food like a fox!
The Sore Throat Cure
It’s not just comedians and actors who get voice problems it’s also teachers and anyone else who has to speak for a living and the biggest obstacle is getting them to accept that anxiety is in fact part of the problem.
Most people won’t admit they are anxious, they look upon that admission as a weakness or some sort of failure.
But whether you admit it or not the key to avoiding excessive voice problems is to relax!
And if you do have a sore throat try to keep it moist using steam, from a warm drink or bowl of hot water, but be careful not to burn yourself. You may also want to think about buying a facial steamer, they work very well.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and try not to get stressed over it, as this will only make things worse, the breathing will also help you to relax.
And, when you do have to speak, breathe in before making any sound as this will stop your voice breaking.
Finally sleep and take a nap as often as you can and this will help to rest both you and your voice.