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Depression, the NHS and The Marathon We Ran Standing Still

Or 48 Hours In The Dark Room is Easier Than 36 Hours On-Call For the NHS

By John Robertson.

I think it was about 40 hours into the show when the marriage proposal happened. Thank God, she accepted him. Then I went back to swearing for charity for another 8 hours.

Over the 2020 Easter weekend, I did a 48 hour marathon performance of my show The Dark Room, raising money for NHS Charities Together and Mind.

Pro wrestler Colt Cabana sews masks for local medical workers in Chicago. He’s like a saint who can also hit you really hard.

A wonderful army ran the Twitch stream, and pals of mine from the comedy industry formed a dream line-up who gave their time, told jokes, did tricks, and smiled indulgently through my ongoing, onscreen mental decline.

Thanks to the brilliant generosity of people, we raised over £25,000.

Why do this? NHS workers are on-call for 36 hours at the best of times. Right now, their lives are in danger, and the only time they hear us clapping for them is when they’re probably finally home and trying to sleep.

Dutch comedian and painter Onno Lolkema took donations and audience suggestions for a canvas, which is why the greatest Dutch master since Van Gogh currently has a thing on his wall featuring “a friendly cat” and “a swarm of dicks with butterfly wings.”

As for Mind, we’ll always need mental health support, especially now everyone’s trapped in their homes – and any place can feel like a prison if you don’t want to be there.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean hasn’t just been on Live At The Apollo, she’s also told a global audience much more suited to watching Minecraft that the practice of sitting on a corpse’s chest to deflate their lungs is called “burking”.

So the marathon was a tribute from the laziest profession to the ones working the hardest. And even though all I did was stand up and scream – you know, just me doing the act I love, with visits from friends of mine – I can gladly report my body and brain were run down.

Thanks to a technical error, Elf Lyons ended up being projected into a desktop background of a conference centre, while a recording of me screaming “YA DIE! YA DIE! YA DIE!” was played for an unreasonably long amount of time. If was like every corporate gig had come to haunt us all.

My stomach muscles were strained, my shoulder still isn’t back where it should be, and I couldn’t walk properly for a couple of days. It’s exactly a week later and I’m still limping and having dreams about the above corporate gig bit. And I’m depressed.

There are sections of the world comedy community that now know Mark Watson as Nice Bookshelf Darren, Olga Koch as Fedora Darren, and Colt Cabana as Saint Colt Cabana.

All from a show where I had food, comfort, a break every hour, air-conditioning and friends.

I didn’t once have to clean the pus out of someone’s sores or frantically dash across a ward to stop another human being dying. Nobody rang me on the verge of suicide (and I’ve been the recipient of that call. I’ve been the caller, too. It is agony, but it is vital.)

I did an easy, satisfying, fun job for a long time, and it was still physically painful and emotionally draining.

God bless the people doing actual hard work, is the point I’m making.

The Dark Room 48 hour Charity Stream aired on – 5 different interactive comedy shows every week. Highlights of most acts are on there, including the marriage proposal!

Colossal thanks to Mark Watson, Desiree Birch, Kiri Pritchard McLean, Alice Fraser, Brendon Burns, Stuart Goldsmith, JoJo Bellini, Sophie Duker, Phil Nichol, Onno Lolkema, Alix Fox, Olga Koch, Tom Crosbie, Paul Flannery, Lydia Nicholas, Jollyboat, Sarah Keyworth, Steve McNeil, Tomas Ford, Iszi Lawrence, Ian Livingstone, Elf Lyons, The Storybeast John Henry Falle, DeAnne Smith, Sam See, Rage Darling, Ross Boomsocks, Maizy Marzipan, Juxto, KayPowXD, YogscastKim, DJ Level Up Leroy, DAGames, John Hastings, Octav1us, Frankie Ward, Michelle Brasier, Sian Choyce, Ashens, Katt Strike, and appearing in the chat, armed with crowd, Limmy and Mr Weebl.

Photo credits @fantayziadesigns and @IsziLawrence

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