One Week Until BGT Finals

Jon Courtenay Uncategorized 12 Comments

Well it’s actually just over a week but I’m expecting to procrastinate a lot about writing this, my first blog. The finals may even be tomorrow by the time you read this.
This is a position I’d never thought I’d be in, lying on my bed on a Thursday lunchtime writing about the Britain’s Got Talent finals and the fact that I’m in it. Just crazy.
The auditions back in January are a lifetime ago, it certainly feels that way since all our lives changed not long after and not because I got a golden buzzer. The hardships and heartbreaks that so many people have had to endure since Covid came in to all our lives has certainly overshadowed my small accomplishment but at the same time it has been a saving grace for me and my family. We’ve had something to focus on and look forward to.
At the time no one knew when the semi finals would be, there was even talk of them being postponed until the new year. I was assured that there is NO WAY they would go ahead without a live studio audience. Next thing you know I’m looking at a virtual wall the size of a building in one of the biggest television studios in the country.
I had way too long to write a song for the semi finals. Too long to second guess myself and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite! My original idea came to me just after the auditions were recorded and I was with a friend as I stumbled down some stairs and he quipped “Don’t die Jon, that would be a waste of the golden buzzer!” What followed was a very surreal, darkly humorous song called ‘I Must Not Die’, still one of the funniest things I think I’ve ever written. I’m hoping it will make it into my new theatre show for the UK tour next year.
However, as we’re all too aware, Covid bought genuine deaths and grief fo a lot of people, there was no way that song was going to be aired on TV.
In the press and publicity following my television debut, there were lots of questions about my parents and I realised there was a story to be told. Both of them were fantastic performers and one of my earliest memories was standing backstage at a theatre before one of my Mum’s shows when I was about 5 years old and seeing the audience from the wings of the stage. That feeling of excitement, nerves and privilege of being in that position has never left me and I take a moment to remember how I felt then, just before I walk out on any stage. It just happens that after my audition, the next stage I would ever walk out on would be eight months later at the BGT studios for my semi-final performance.
I haven’t always written songs and played the piano in my stage show. I started as a comedy magician after being bought a magic set when I was seven years old. It became a bit of an obsession but always with the objective of making people laugh rather than amaze them. Tommy Cooper was my hero where all the tricks went wrong and people would be in hysterics just with a grunt or a turn of the head. A true comedy genius.
The piano came in to the show when I was performing at a hotel in Cyprus and a guest had heard me playing in the lobby. After my comedy magic act later the same night he asked me why I didn’t play the piano in my show. He suggested that I’d be the only comedy magician that played a piano and originality is key in this game so I gave it a go. The magic gradually made way for more music and comedy and soon I was performing on the cruise ships with my one-man comedy piano act. But it was keeping me away from home for weeks at a time. I had to find a way to promote myself back in the UK.
Writing the song for my BGT audition was quite a quick process. It was literally all the thoughts and reasons that were in my head, I just had to make them rhyme and find a tune for it. The same for my semi-final song.
So many people tell me how much I made them cry and I’m starting to think I should stop calling myself a comedian! But then laughter and sadness are a very short distance from each other. We can cry so easily at both. Often people who have to deliver bad news find themselves with an irresistible urge to laugh, almost a coping mechanism. Maybe that’s my secret although I’ve never considered having one, except when I was doing magic tricks.
So now I have to put myself out there one more time. On Saturday 10th October 2020, myself and nine other acts will perform in one of the biggest television events in the schedule and I’ve had to come up with another song for the occasion. I’m not giving anything away but I hope that there are tears, and not of sadness. We need to feel good today more than ever before. We need something to look forward to and we need to remember that things are going to get better. D:ream already wrote that song in 1993 (Google it) but I think I’ve written something that might do the trick too. I really hope you enjoy it, I know that I’m going to have the time of my life on the biggest night of my life and no matter what, I’m going to remember that 5 year old kid that knew this was all he ever wanted to do in his life… make people happy.

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Comments 12

  1. It was great seeing you perform again. Everybody here at RHS is proud of their old boy. Good luck on the finals (not that you’ll need it!!) Hopefully see you at the Royal Variety!

  2. I’m so proud of you Jon! I love knowing a BGT finalist! Sorry for all the posts on Facebook but you have so many friends/fans around the World who want to see you! I will be ready to vote next Saturday!! Break a leg! Xoxo

  3. Hi Jon
    I’m Christine cousins daughter here is Coggeshall, Essex we’re super excited for the final next Saturday I’m going to get all my friends & family to vote for you & I’m not at artistic but am thinking if making a banner.
    Good luck x

  4. OMG ..so proud of you
    Dad would of been too..mustn’t be sad he’s watching from up there saying “That’s my Boy “ xxx

  5. Well done, have loved watching you since our family cruise last November..little did we know then as we came away with your DVD , that we would go on another journey with you this year, Your BGT journey..you had a star gift to make us and I’m sure many others to feel connected to you as friends..well done Jon..looking forward to your UK tour, dont miss Eastbourne …

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