Noises Off team asked if I would maybe write a little something about making Turtle so here! Happy now! Let my wife and son go free!
In 2019 I wrote down a note in my phone: “Tim Westwood = Sea Turtle”.
I had no idea what this meant but I liked it and had a chuckle to myself then I forgot about it and moved on with my life.
2019: I decided I wanted to try and develop a show to take round the Fringe circuit in 2020 (lmfao). I went to open mics on the spoken word and stand up comedy circuits with routines about the rift in the Royal Family, and a poem about bus drivers and I was having a lovely time shouting these things at various people.
2020: Oh no, our global arts community, it’s broken! The world became shit didn’t it! Boooo. All of a sudden I wasn’t able to shout about the Spice Girls or vibrators at strangers anymore. And that’s my favourite thing to do. It’s my whole thing. Instead I spent a year listening to Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, playing Planet Coaster and coming to terms with the fact that live performance was dead (RIP).
2021: Things seem to vaguely be reopening. I ask my mates for open spots as favours. The first set I do I am shitting myself. I don’t remember how to do the things I do. I want to leave. But it goes well. The audience are up for it. Gasping for air and punching each other in the face from the sheer excitement of being out the house. One of them shouts “He’s back! The comedy poetry messiah of Teesside has returned! This is the true vaccine!” and they carried me into the streets on their shoulders.
After a month of recycling the same 15 minutes of material (Thatcher/Vibrator/Bus/Spice Girls) I started looking through my notes on my phone and saw the Tim Westwood=Sea Turtle note. I remembered the reason I wrote it down was the fact that he’s a very odd liar and I started doing some research. The more I looked into him, the more I realised that I wanted to make a show about class and place and identity. I had already subconsciously been writing material about these things.
I decided to talk about my life and where I’m from for the first time onstage. Obviously made very silly because I’m a coward, but it’s not something I’d ever felt comfortable doing in the past. I didn’t think anyone would give a shit. I almost cut the whole statue routine the night before the first show because it felt like it was “too Hartlepudlian” for audiences. It’s now my favourite thing I’ve written and performed. And I got to do it here. What a bloody treat.
But yeah, that’s how I made the show. And I’m very glad I did. Remember, when external or internal voices make you doubt whether what you’re making is worth anyone’s time “kick them to the curb man. We're gonna keep it real man.” (Westwood, 63 years old). A true sage.