To whom it may inspire,
As it stands, I’m an ex-signed reality-TV personality, a touring muso with less than 10K followers on Twitter and (bonus!) I’m social minority of the month. Basically, nobody (including me) has any idea if I’m actually famous or not. Which is incredibly liberating. I’ve also got a cracking new set of tits. So, much like the proverbial Lizard King… I can do anything. As a Transgender woman, I’m no stranger to a ‘cheeky re-think’. From boy to muso to woman to comic, it’s all part of the process. I reckon.
I announced my jump for Pop to Stand-up on April 1st 2017, prompting a predictable backlash of sceptics claiming “April Fools!” Like Joaquin Phoenix’s I’m Still Here or Andy Kaufman’s foray into professional wrestling… in the mind of many a long-serving Jordanite, my digression from Pop to Comedy is undermined by the possibility that this might all still be one big joke. Which is a sweet sweet irony. The cool part is, if I do turn out to be utterly shit, I can just claim that the entire thing was just a very expensive, very risky, social experiment. And I might win an award.
But no. I AM doing this.
As the Music industry devolves into all-out nuclear Nepotism, Comedy appears to be the last remaining Meritocracy. I’m a social Darwinist. I find ‘fair contest’ far more appealing than the “who ya know” trading card game of the modern music biz. If you’re not funny, you won’t survive in Comedy. I like that pressure. It’s a nice change of pace from “fake it ‘til you make it”.
Musically, tastes come and go in predictable waves. Comedy FEELS more ephemeral, which in turn FEELS more exciting. Like makeup artists or ‘Zen gardeners’, the process of a comedian is transient. It’s there and then it’s gone. Its impact is intensified because it doesn’t last forever. There is nothing to hide behind. And I’m nothing if I’m not done hiding.
And if it does all come full-circle (a la Michael Jordan’s 1996 movie Space Jam) and I eventually return to my former calling, triumphant, it will all have counted for something. What’s more likely is that music will invade my comedy. Music is my God damn LIFE. If I can aspire to the wily heights of Tim Minchin or Bo Burnham, I’ll be a happy woman. And after 10 years, my musical impressions and maniacal stage laughter will suddenly have found some context.
Prior to 2017, when asked in interviews who my inspirations were, I often stifled the instinct to reply “Russell Brand, Ricky Gervais, Noel Fielding” opting instead for a musical ‘placeholder’ hero like Jeff Buckley, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash…”. Indeed, Ricky Gervais and many other comics began their careers as serious recording artists before turning the lens on themselves and pillaging their own tragic heroism for comedy gold. I realised by the end of 2016 that I’d been a comic this whole time, in muso’s clothing. Even my stage name of 10 years (Tall Dark Friend) is a subversive play on words. In hindsight, perhaps my first “joke” – and certainly the catalyst for the funniest moment of my career: being mistakenly introduced on stage, back in 2008 to a crowd of 700, as “Long Tall Black Man” !!!
Music and I married very young. But for all her rhythm and rhyme, Music was a silent partner. Toiling in obscurity, I would ask her for the answers to questions like “fame?” and “fortune?” and, like God, Music seemed ambivalent and never replied. And so, for the longest time, my love felt unrequited. Circa 2015, we divorced and I shacked up with her younger, hotter, malevolent twin – the Music Industry. Industry was more of a talker. She wore trendier accessories and flaunted them with impunity. She took charge. Better still, she seemed to appreciate me more than Music alone ever did. The rewards for my devotion were immediate and shiny. But they were fleeting.
Only when I look back do I realise, ‘twas Music that gave me everything I ever needed, including the tools to better myself. She asked for nothing in return. The Industry made me sign a prenup and still took me to the cleaners the moment I couldn’t ‘perform in the bedroom’. Music remained silent as I played her, grew tired and cheated. I realise now that Music answered every time I asked. Her answers came out of MY mouth. MY fingers. And I basically told her to fuck off because “how else are we going to get it played on Radio 1 without a House remix…!?”
It is no coincidence that the greatest year of my musical career is also the year I quit the music industry. 2016 threw me into the lives of the nation and bore a hole in me so deep that no future accolades could ever fill it. And I’m not just talking about what happened at Jimmy Carr’s Halloween Party. My big re-launch single ‘Platinum’ was an exercise in futility and mediocrity. Finding myself with an inflated audience and a ‘proper’ budget, I suddenly forgot how to express myself authentically. I forgot how write a song, so I wrote to a formula. I forgot how to make a music video and so we just fell back on tits, muscle cars and exploding slow-motion champagne. All 5 of my previous indie videos were made for under £500 apiece and every single one of them has been awarded some variation of ‘Best In Show’ by a recognised association. Platinum didn’t get a look-in. It was to be the first of a 3-single deal but I was dropped from the label shortly after the first week’s chart figures rolled in. #109 didn’t count for much in the winter of 2016. Even less by now I imagine.
[At this juncture I’d like to extend my sincerest appreciation for my 6-time video producer and co-director Jak Kav. The work we’ve done together is outstanding and your patience with me is unparalleled. Honestly, how do you do it?]
By contrast, ‘Cry For The Camera’ (released May 2017) is a Rap and Spoken-word collaboration between 4 different studios over the course of a year. With no allegiance to the bottom line, it can afford to be intentionally disjointed, un-mastered and only available for as limited a run as I want to give it. It’s a deliberate and liberating “fuck you” to the facsimile of a career I had suddenly found myself pursuing. I am prouder of that neurotic jambalaya of a CD than I am of almost anything else I’ve ever done. The franticality of true spoken-word is a perfect segue into stand-up comedy.
As an entertainer, YOU (my audience) are the focus of everything I do. As a human in 2017, Comedy is how I wish to communicate. Nervous? Stick with me a little longer before jumping the Tall Dark Friend-ship. I promise you that things are about to get schwifty and I wouldn’t want you to miss my big season 2 premier.
- Every Sunday from May 21st (4-6pm) I’ll be hosting ‘The ExtraJordanary Show’ on Phoenix 98.0FM (phoenixfm.com) where I discuss the ordinary lives of extraordinary guests in studio. With live music and chat from the international A-list to the UK’s up-and-comers.
- Look out for my guest episode of the ‘Hardcore Listing Podcast’ (acast.com/hardcorelisting). Having guested on Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces in 2015, I was invited earlier this year to rattle off a ‘Top 5’ of my choosing on its neighbouring podcast, hosted by Drunkcast veterans Chris and Stu.
- I’m returning to terrestrial television toward the end of this year and you’re likely to see a little more of me than you might have expected (unless you’ve ever seen me play in Chelmsford…). Details TBA.
Finally, almost as a 10-year parting gift, a decade’s worth of TDF fans gathered in April to fund my breast augmentation surgery. It was like the plot of a God damn indie movie! I am indebted to the Jordanites and I promise to forever carry my newbs (new boobs) with dignity and respect. Much like Lady Di, they belong to the people now. I am now the proud owner of two considerable boobs and a respectable willy – and any comedy-historian will tell you that the breasts and penis are by far the two funniest protrusions of the human body. With a combo like this, how can I possibly fail!?