Philip Simon Presents: School's Out Comedy Club

by Philip Simon in Elstree, England, United Kingdom

£555

raised of £1,200 target

16

supporters
46% 19 days left
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 26th August 2020 at 12:08am

A series of YouTube comedy shows with jokes submitted by children for me to tell. An ideal distraction for kids and parents during lockdown.

by Philip Simon in Elstree, England, United Kingdom

Everything Changes

On Saturday 14th March 2020 I left the venue where I'd just performed two sell out gigs in Brighton. I'd been headlining both shows and was heading home on a high. Little did I know then that one bubble was about to burst whilst another one formed!

As with many other self employed, freelance professionals, the coronavirus lockdown meant that almost overnight gigs were cancelled and my earnings from live comedy shrunk from about 80% to zero.

Confined to our home with a 3 year old and 5½ year old meant that I went from being a comedian, writer and actor to a supply teacher in a relatively new school that as of the end of term had an OFSTED rating of 'Inadequate' (I’m not saying they’re right, but when I wrote that joke I did have to spellcheck 'inadequate').

I quickly realised that this was a huge drain on all of our mental health, and it was important for the children to have a release. I also knew, for the same reason, that I needed a comedy outlet; a chance to perform, even if it wasn't to a live audience. 

Working From Home

1595527769_img_2258_2.jpgOver the months I managed to book in a few live stream gigs, but there's no substitute for a live audience. Not to mention how weird it feels to be performing whilst only having to worry about being dressed from the waist up. My front room became my new studio, and in an attempt to stay connected to comedy and relevant to the industry I tried to come to terms with the "new normal" of online gigs.

After a lot of thought I had an idea that ticked a number of boxes. I would get to perform and my children (and therefore other children) could be entertained rather than just having to worry about their homeschooling. Also it wouldn't hurt to give parents a bit of a break!

The concept seemed seemed straightforward enough. Children send me their jokes 1594993989_socc_title_card_-_no_contact_details.jpgto perform and I put together a series of short videos they can access for free whenever they want. I posted about my idea on the Family Lockdown Facebook Group, and within a few hours the post had gone viral. The response was overwhelmingly positive with parents immediately saying how exciting this would be for their children. And so School's Out Comedy Club was born.

The practicalities of putting the show together were complicated whilst balancing shared parental responsibility with my wife (who was able to work part time as usual) and also attempting to keep at least one foot in the professional comedy camp by continuing to write new material and doing online gigs when I could. I had to find time to collect and collate the material, prep, film and edit the show, before putting it out on Facebook and YouTube. Then the promo work began encouraging people to watch, like and share the video.

Going Live

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The first episode went out on 1st April 2020 and received over 2K views on Facebook. I received some lovely press about the show, locally and nationally, with interviews in print and on radio. You can catch all current episodes on YouTube.

Frustratingly my ambitions to do weekly shows (originally this had been daily) weren't met due to the other pressures on my time, most notably, of course, my own family life, but here are a list of what the show has achieved in just a few months:

  • Over 100 children submitting approximately 350 unique jokes for me to tell or videos of themselves telling the jokes for me to edit into the episode
  • 10 episodes produced and released
  • 1 feature length episode dedicated to raising funds for an organisation that supports the NHS where all the jokes were themed around doctors, nurses, key workers, etc
  • Thousands of views across YouTube & Facebook
  • A number of live-streamed shows performed to youth groups (Cubs, Brownies, etc) in the UK and US with bespoke sets from jokes their children have submitted

Emotionally and professionally the show has surpassed all expectations, yet despite the success of this project it's not really brought in much more than a little pocket money from the odd donation from generous well-wishers and the small fees for the live shows. I'd really love to keep this project alive as I've heard from a large number of parents how much their children enjoy tuning in to the show, especially when they get to see and hear their names as part of an episode.

From one fan & regular contributor

"Hi Philip. I'd just wanted to say thank you for mentioning my birthday. I am very glad you are releasing these because they are very funny and keep me entertained during quarantine and the jokes people are sending in are very funny!! Ben xx

In the words of Jed Bartlett, "WHAT'S NEXT"?

Now that schools have broken up and it's likely (fingers crossed) that in September homeschooling will be a thing of the past, I have been thinking what I would like to do with the shows I have produced. Here are a few options I am exploring:

  • Producing a one-off live (online) show where I perform all the jokes submitted, interspersed with the videos sent in by the kids themselves.
  • Filming a "special" with all the jokes submitted for general release and distribution.
  • Self-publishing a joke book with all the jokes that were sent in, where all the children get credited for their submissions, and all profits go to charity.

After 4 months of lockdown it's the first idea of a live streamed version of the show that I'm most excited about. The chance to perform again to a live audience, and a fun show to put together for the children to enjoy. I'll be stocking up on the most suitable tech to make the show as good and as accessible as I can, so any and all support in getting things going is appreciated.

Now, it's over to you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this far. Hopefully there's something here that's piqued your interest, so any help you're able to offer would be amazing.

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

2 of 15 claimed

Gold Level Access to School's Out Live + recording

Get yourself a front row seat for this one off event. The show will be streamed via YouTube, but I am releasing a limited number of tickets that will give you access to the Zoom stream so you can be a part of the show. This will mean I'm able to interact with you, and if they'd like then your kids will be able to tell their jokes as part of the live show. Also everyone who selects this option will receive a recording of the show afterwards.

£5 or more

School's Out Comedy Club Live-Stream Link

Watch the live-stream show in real time from the comfort of your own home with a link that will take you to the YouTube event. Because of the nature of this show it would appreciated if the link wasn't shared beyond your own household.

£7 or more

A joke on a topic of your choice posted on Twitter

One thing I've been really grateful for over the past few months is the ongoing support from fans and well-wishers who haven't necessarily wanted anything in return, but really just wanted to offer a little more than just a pat on the back. I'm always so appreciative of these supporters and have for a long time wondered what I can do to say thank you. Well, now I know. You give me a topic and I'll tweet your very own joke with you as the star!

£9 or more

AJ Bell Fringe on Friday 7th of August

On the 7th of August at 9pm, kick back and enjoy all your Fringe favourites from the comfort of your own home, with a ticket to the AJ Bell Fringe on Friday.

£10 or more

Personalised Limerick

A lim'rick's a poem or song | A ditty that's just 5 lines long | For £10 of your money | I'll write something funny | Oh what could possibly go wrong? | I've always loved the more creative & humorous side of writing & for my wedding I wrote bespoke limericks for every family that was coming. Over 100 in total, all beautifully personalised and makes for a perfect gift.

£10 or more

Early e-copy of School's Out Comedy Club Joke Book

When the book is published you'll be able to get one of the first copies, hot off the press.

£12 or more

Early copy of School's Out Comedy Club Joke Book

When the book is published you'll be able to get one of the first copies, hot off the press, ready for you to actually hold in your hands.

£15 or more

Personalised Daddy Pig Greeting Video

Having played Daddy Pig in the UK theatre tour of Peppa Pig I am now producing personalised video messages to send to children. The videos are about a minute in length and will be sent to you as a downloadable file for you to keep. All I'll need from you is some information about who the video is for and what (if anything) they're celebrating. More information here: https://www.facebook.com/352636844792269/posts/2826724350716827/

£15 or more

Named donor in the School's Out Comedy Joke Book

When the book is published you'll be able to get one of the first copies, hot off the press. You'll also be listed in the Acknowledgement's section of the book as one of the supporters of this project.

£20 or more

Signed copy of the School's Out Comedy Joke Book

When the book is published you'll be able to get one of the first copies, hot off the press, personally signed by me. You'll also be listed in the Acknowledgement's section of the book as one of the supporters of this project.

£30 or more

Cartoon of you in School's Out Comedy Joke Book

When the book is published you'll be able to get one of the first copies, hot off the press. You'll be listed in the Acknowledgement's section of the book as one of the supporters of this project, but also, we'll include a personalised illustration of you (or your child) in the book also, alongside one of the jokes.

£75 or more

30 minute bespoke live stream for your youth group

Having done live stream gigs for cubs, brownies, scouts, guides and other youth groups I would be happy to organise similar for you. These are held via Zoom and require some prep beforehand as ideally it will include jokes that your children have sent in. I can then host the show as I would a regular gig, interacting with the children via Zoom, telling their jokes and inviting them to participate with any more they've thought of.

£100 or more

Sponsor the Live Show - Bronze

Corporate sponsorship of the live show is available in 3 levels: Bronze: Mentioned as a sponsor during the live show.

£250 or more

Sponsor the Live Show - Silver

Corporate sponsorship of the live show is available in 3 levels: Silver: Mentioned as a sponsor during the show including logo placement.

£450 or more

Sponsor the Live Show - Gold

Corporate sponsorship of the live show is available in 3 levels: Gold: Mentioned as a sponsor during the show including logo placement and shout outs on social media before and after the event. I would be happy to discuss bespoke packages at a price range to suit.

Let's make 'Philip Simon Presents: School's Out Comedy Club' happen

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