Where chess and comedy collide.

Jan 13, 2012, 4:29 AM |

Like, I assume, many chess players, I have that obessive part of my mental make-up which can't leave something alone.  Not only do I need to do it (whatever it is), but I need to be the best I possibly can be at it, even if that "best" isn't very good in the grand scheme of things.

Thus, chess has taken over my life of late.

I'm now a semi-professional stand-up comedian and the same thing happened with comedy as with chess.  I started performing, became completely obsessed and lost much of my life to it.  Then about two months ago I started playing chess again.  It was the first I'd played since I was a young child and until I discovered chess.com, my only opponent was the Shredder app on my iPhone.

Chess was intended to fill the "for fun" void that comedy left behind.  Don't get me wrong, I adore every minute I spend on stage and at home writing and developing material - I can't think of a better job in the world - but since comedy became something that I thought of more as a career than a hobby, I needed something to hobby over.  But my obsessive personality won't let it go, and I'm compelled to be the best at chess that I possibly can be.  I've gone back to basics and read my way through beginners books, and I'm now almost done with 'My System' and about to start on Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.  (Other recommendations are welcome!)

I've been very lucky to be asked to be in a new TV series (we've just filmed the pilot, fingers-crossed a TV channel buys it!) and they filmed me playing chess and asked me why I obsessed about it, and what relation it had to comedy.  I told them about the Shannon number, the seemingly limitless possible variations in a chess game, and likened this to the way that, in comedy, just when you think it's all been "done", someone finds a new way of making people laugh.

So, now THEY are obsessed with my new obsession of chess.  So the hobby is, for now at least, intertwined with my comedic path.  Here's hope they both take me to full-time, professional comic on TV.

Of course I'd like to make chess sexy, too.  Let's bring it back.  I'll be like the Justin Timberlake of chess.  Don't laugh, I'm just like Justin.  I too want to be rich and famous.

Oh, and we both have absolutely no discernable talent whatsoever.