Comedy: Growing pains

Bruce Morton is doing the bravest thing a stand-up comedian can do - he is giving up stand-up. At least for a while. Rather, he is currently performing Blood Below the Window, a narrative, closer to theatre than stand-up, about his own process of growing up.

"I don't like to feel bound," he explains, "or like I must be doing jokes about Wonderbras or Shredded Wheat. Although I enjoy them, that's not my groove. I now find myself thinking about a fresh start. I'm not entirely convinced I want to be doing stand-up forever - it's not quite as satisfying as it was. I've got a bit old for it. I sometimes think, `you could be doing with a bit more dignity'."

Blood Below the Window explores the murky corners inhabited by death and injury. "Yeah, it is dark," he asserts. "It relates to personal stuff, but it's also affirming. It sounds poncey, but it's about finding out that growing up never stops. At what point do you become a man? When you have to deal with the funeral of a parent you think `am I that little boy anymore?'. The defining moment comes two years later when you think, `I wish I'd said that to him', or `if I could have one person to a dinner party, it would be my old man'."

This thought-provoking show also majors on the concept of flying. "Shortly after I lost my virginity, I fell out of a window at home," Morton says. "It's about leaving the nest - in a very vivid way. The theme of flying prevails. In one sense it's a spiritual experience, and in another it's reaching some sort of glory. Even when you're working class from a crummy housing estate, you can do extraordinary things. I tell this true story about a whole estate in Scotland which got together to rip off a freight train of pounds 50,000 worth of Kestrel lager. That's quite affirming. That's what I mean by flying."

Morton admits to being wholly preoccupied with Blood Below the Window. "I'm doing it for me - in a way it's a catharsis. Jesus Christ, I'm such a luvvie." He breaks into a laugh. "Please don't make it sound too pretentious. It is funny as well."

Bruce Morton's `Blood Below the Window' is part of the Short BAC and Sides season at the Battersea Arts Centre, SW11 (0171-223 2223) tonight and tomorrow

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