Neither am I an actor or any other sort of performer. Most of my life is spent in front of a computer screen, writing stuff. Or - more recently - editing video.
I don't mind trying to perform, but I'm not really a natural show-off either. I sometimes get uncomfortable if there's too much attention on me; why should I be in the spotlight, soaking up applause, when everyone is deserving of being treated equally? Yes, I know. I probably overthink it.
So, I don't get nervous in front of an audience or camera these days - I mean, I used to, back in my 20s - but age and maturity have lead me to care less what others think. I worry more about doing justice to an idea, or letting down other people. Especially if they've paid money for, say, a comedy show, or Found Footage... and there's me twatting around in a pair of denim cut-offs, selling the material short.
It's actually slightly frustrating for me, given that I often have ideas for something that would be funny live, or on camera, but feel unable to offer up said idea exactly as I have it in my head.
Something I've learned from being a writer is that actors and comedians have a very unique set of skills that I simply don't possess. I've no idea if those skills can be learned, but I experience the same frustration when it comes to art. I was considered one of my school's better artists, but I also know that I have limitations; there's a point at which my skills stop, and my imagination continues on.
Nevertheless, over the weekend I found myself thrust into the role of performer once again, for not only my erotic role as MC Stringy Hobo in Mr Biffo's Found Footage, but as the host of the aforementioned Retro Comedy Night; the closest I'll ever get to trying my hand at stand-up comedy.
When I was asked by Stuart Ashen whether I'd be willing to come along to the event, and perform a short comedy set, I deferred - again, I reminded him, I'm not a comedian.
Plus I didn't relish striding cold into the bear pit of live comedy, when most comedians have the chance to hone their material and performance over time. Instead, I suggested showing episode one of Found Footage. I ran this past the Kickstarter backers, who were all happy for an early preview - but it meant I had to have the episode completed, when I'd parked it to work on later eps. I was still editing on the day of the gig, which meant I'd end up clumsily reading my script, having not had time to memorise it.
You see, there had been a slight communication mix-up, in which I'd been named as the host of the event. Suddenly it wouldn't be enough for me to simply go up on stage and say "Good evening" and show my silly video. I ended up having to write something, hold the show together, introduce the acts, and add a bit of extra value for the audience.
With no time to write or properly rehearse a set of comedy, most of what I chose to say was cut-and-pasted from Twitter; I thought it'd be funny to read out a load of mean Pudsey The Dog The Movie reviews and tweets.
I'd intended to have this go on for rather too long, Stewart Lee-style, but when I practised in front of my partner, Sanya, she suggested that it might be too long. Indeed, as I was to all intents and purposes the opening "act", I was already on dodgy ground by choosing to kick off the show with something that I'd designed to be as depressing as possible (complete with sad music and dreary projections).
Anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound, eh?
I don't know what it is, but despite not getting nervous doing these sorts of things, I nevertheless get a kind of weird tunnel-vision on stage, where everything else is blotted out.
Less so, admittedly, at last year's Digifest, which felt more like a gathering of mates. This time around, however, I was a guest at somebody else's party, I didn't know anyone else there, and I didn't want to ruin it by knocking over the buffet table.
When up on stage in such an environment, I don't hear laughter, or applause, or anything other than the sound of my own voice. I don't know if that's the same for all performers - I've listened to them talk about tailoring their performance to the energy of the audience, so presumably not.
Nevertheless, whether it is - he says showbizzily - picking up a Royal Television Society Award for my CBBC show 4 O'Clock Club, or getting up on stage to do a talk or be interviewed, there's something about that spotlight which narrows the world down to a pinprick for me. When I got that RTS award, I might as well have taken to the stage surrounded by deathly silence for all I was aware.
Fairly early on in my introduction on Saturday, I completely lost the flow of what I was saying. Having seen the audience, and realised that very few of them would have a clue who I was - and were unlikely to love what I'd got planned - that bit of my brain which wants to challenge people (for "wants to challenge people" read "has a death-wish") kicked in.
Sanya had dared me to belch into the microphone as I took to the stage, and I'd accepted the dare. I'd duly knocked back a can of Diet Coke moments before going on, but for some reason when I put the microphone to my mouth, no windypops emerged.
This knocked me off completely, and it took me a bit of time to remember where I was, and what I'd intended to say. Then I had to show a hastily-edited video of Pudsey The Dog, by way of an introduction, which I knew was puerile and disrespectful, and potential career suicide, and seemed to go on for an indeterminate amount of time. When I next took to the microphone, I forgot the "funny" voices I'd intended for each of the tweets, and this threw me off even more.
I was very happy when the excellent Ash Frith got up to do his routine, while I sloped off through what felt like a wasteland of broken mini eggs, crumbled pork pies, and paper plates.
I've no real idea how well Found Footage went down when I showed it following Ash's set. I don't really care either. I mean, I was looking around, and saw as many people laughing as appeared to be appalled by it, which was a win as far as I was concerned. After all, it's not designed to be for everyone. It's certainly no Mrs Brown's Boys.
After a short break, I tested the patience of the audience further, by showing an unfinished clip from a future episode - which you'll only get if you're familiar with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I thought the crowd would lap it up, but there were clearly fewer geeks like me in the audience than I'd expected.
By this point though, I'd eased into my role. Without having anything else pre-written to say, I was much more comfortable just being on stage in a more conversational way. In these moments, the pinprick widened to the size of a letterbox.
Iszi Lawrence and Paul Gannon followed me, and - like Ash - were clearly polished, experienced, funny and likeable performers, to whom the audience responded well.
Overall, it was a great night, and I'm very glad to have been a part of it. I feel like I've tried my hand at something way outside of my usual milieu, which a few years back I could never have imagined doing. I do think that's as good a reason as any to give these things a go, rather than hide away in the shadows.
Thanks to Stuart and the organisers for inviting me, to the audience for tolerating me, the handful of Digi readers who came along, and everyone who gave me feedback on Found Footage. It did mean another emergency edit on Sunday, before its online premiere, but it was worth it, I think.
Best of all, around 80 tickets were sold, and the raffle made another £122 - all of which goes towards the fund for Matthew Dons' cancer treatment. If you'd like to give to that fund, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.