"I'm not that sort of person," Alex Musson said to his friend Steve as they sat down at the Comedy Club, seven years ago.
"I'm too old," he continued. "It scares the living daylights out of me!" he pleaded. But his good friend Steve didn't flinch.
Both regulars of the comedy circuit, Steve knew that Alex would be better off on stage than in the stalls.
The deadline for Alex's first try at stand-up was set for his 29th birthday. "We found a seven-minute slot at the Laughing Horse comedy club in Camden and I had a month to prepare," Alex says.
"Steve was the only person I told. It was really scary. The only thing I can compare it to is losing my virginity - baffling at the time, but afterwards it feels great."
Steve was proven right. The MC loved the slot, Alex was asked back, and for the next two years - to his surprise - he toured the country, gigging three or four nights a week. Despite the success, Alex says: "That's how I discovered I was happier behind the typewriter."
Before his stint in stand-up, Alex was already writing, photocopying and distributing a little black and white comedy pamphlet called Mustard magazine.
It was just a hobby and only a few hundred copies an issue were made. But last January, at 35, Alex has had another "now or never" moment and 10,000 full colour copies of Mustard went into circulation.
Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong now feature on the cover of the third issue, with Michael Palin and Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted) before them.
The king of comic book writers, Alan Moore (Watchmen), is also a fan and past interviewee, describing Mustard as Britain's answer to the Onion, America's top comedy mag. Similarly full of spoof news, funny features, cartoons and comic strips, the popularity of Mustard is spreading like a cold at Christmas. Check out www.mustardweb.org for news, back copies and the mailing list.
Best place for hard copies: Gosh Comics, 39 Great Russell St. Open daily 10am-6pm, Thurs/Fri until 7pm. Call 020 7636 1011. Email email@example.com