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Monday, October 18

Another absence
Sorry about this. I keep having stuff to do. The first thing to go appears to be this blog. Actually, I've not been all that bad of late, but I'm still a few days out. Things were somewhat compounded by my extra responsibilities in the office, coupled with a rather tough gig schedule last week. This week should be a lot easier. I've still got an action packed bunch of days between now and the weekend, but all the action is close(ish) to home, so it makes life a lot easier.

Let's see what, of note, happened last week.

Actually, nothing much stands out about this day, except for the fact that I had a rehearsal. I may even have tackled a massive pile of ironing, because there appear to be a lot of ironed shirts in the house and I can't afford a maid.

I left the office reasonably late on AND did a gig. This involved driving to Manchester, of course, and I arrived close to 9pm. I was closing the gig, which meant that I felt under no pressure to arrive for its start. I pretty much did arrive at the beginning, but it was nice to feel I could pack more into the day than the usual early-departure-from-work-lest-I-be-late-thing.

The gig on Wednesday night went pretty well, considering that I was playing to the smallest audience of the night (it's a frequent problem, when closing a free gig, that people just leave before you go on). I think I gave a good account of myself and managed to snatch myself back from the jaws of the audience's hatred with an uncharacteristic gag for which I found a new punchline on the spot.

I had been looking forward to playing a weekend at The Stand since I was booked in September for it. The Stand is definitely one of THE clubs to play in Scotland. I was down to do a 10 minute set in the middle of the show on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in their Edinburgh venue. This was a superb opportunity to find out how I'd get on with a nicely run club and a nice audience. Emphasis on how easy it should have been. As such, I suppose they must need to be quite discerning when they decide whether to invite an act back. Anyone can look good when everyone's laughing at them.

I had an early appointment at The Stand on Thursday. I had to be there for 7pm for soundchecking. Given that it takes about 2hours and 15minutes (in good traffic) to get there, I was out of the office at speed and flying up the A1. I've come to the decision that the A1 is such an easy ride that it's worth the extra 10 or so miles it puts on the journey.

I actually arrived in Edinburgh about 20 minutes early and had time to get some cash and a Starbucks. The sound check was good and the gig was even better. One of the people I met during the Fringe came along to see the show (I got guest tickets organised) and seemed to enjoy themselves. I had a great time. The audience laughed, I felt good. Job done.

After the gig was over, it was time to jump into the car and drive back home. I actually reached my bed at 1.30am on Friday morning, which is not at all bad for a gig night. I had to pack a suitcase, though, because I was due back in Edinburgh at 7pm the following night.

After a day at work, consisting of being spectator/heckler during the coding, followed by various doing-a-lot-of-talking meetings, I was back on the road. I had an appointment in Edinburgh at 7pm. This time it was not for sound check. I was staying in the company of an adorable young lady, who is probably reading this, and who deserves all the praise in the world for providing me with company and accommodation over the course of the weekend. In case this looks like some sort of declaration of undying love for the lady in question, I should point out that we're just friends... a slumber party is about as "saucy" as we got. Even then, there's nothing much saucy about reading the problem page of a teenage girl's magazine to each other.

Ah... I should also point out that the lady in question is a mortgaged adult, and not a teenage girl - the magazine was something of a piece of harmless amusement to while away Saturday afternoon. But I digress.

So, on Friday night, I played the same club as I played Thursday. I was alongside the same acts. The pressure is on more when you have a track record to maintain. For some reason, the audience, didn't laugh at all at what I consider to be my first big laugh. I pressed on unfazed and they got into line quickly enough. Giving me another solid reaction. I enjoyed Friday night. Waiting to go on, you wonder whether you will get any laughs at all... standing in front of a crowd who have just failed to laugh, you wonder even more. However, there's something to be said for material which has been played over 150 times and which you know has another punchline, just around the corner.

Friday night was my 200th gig. I enjoyed it.

Once awake on Saturday, we set off in search of lunch. I had the "badass burger" or something like that. Our number had swelled to three (not as a result of the badass burger, though it swelled my beltline a bit), and it was at this point that the subject of buying teenage-girl-oriented magazines arose. The magazine provided much in the way of childish laughter over the course of the afternoon.

Saturday night was spent back at the comedy club. My guitar had been left there on Thursday night, sitting back in the gig bag. I'd actually left my guitar in another city while I drove home for the day's work on Friday - I've never done that before (or maybe I did something like that when I day tripped it to Newcastle on the train from Edinburgh a few months back - but the guitar wasn't left in someone's club - I forget). On Friday night, emboldened by the safety of the club and the convenience of the green room, I left the guitar OUT of the case. Oh yes!

So, now I'm feeling more comfortable at the club and more like I can do this comedy thing. Now is the time to get complacent and do a bad gig. I didn't. I had another really nice reaction. In fact, they were the most up-for-it of all the crowds I played that weekend. I really enjoyed it. I still ploughed through my set at a breakneck pace. Luckily, the compere was quick, so the room were already quite trigger happy with their laughs. It was really good fun. I hope I get to do it again.

I even left my guitar in the club overnight, which was odd, because I wasn't playing there on Sunday!

Guess where we had lunch? I'll give you a clue. I picked my guitar up afterwards. Not only does The Stand pay me to play to 170 people on a Saturday night, but it also runs a free improvised comedy show on a Sunday lunchtime. We attended, we ate potato wedges doused in something lovely and I got my instrument back. This was a superb weekend. There should be more of them.

That's today. Life is a little more dull for there not being a gig to go to - a run of 4 consecutive gigs was quite something to deal with. I have decided a set piece 10, 15 and 20 that I'll roll out from now on, which appears to hit hard enough to work more often than not. My next gig is on Wednesday and I can also try out some new material, which should be fun. There's quite a lot of material that I've not used in a while. I ought to note it all down, lest some of it is actually undiscovered gold.

I also would like to declare today to be Nathan Lane day. During lunchtime, I did a bit of shopping and then attended the post office to pick up the crap-I-keep-ordering-from-ebay-that-doesn't-fit-through-my-letterbox. Included in this batch of jiffy bags was the 1992 broadway version of Guys and Dolls which I hadn't realised included Nathan Lane among its cast. Nathan Lane is known to me specifically because he was in The Producers on Broadway (and is going to appear in the movie of this musical of the original movie - all of which is by Mel Brooks). Anyway, I remember thinking, as I looked through the Guys and Dolls sleeve notes - "ooh, he's from The Producers, I'm going to see that next weekend" - cos I am.

For other reasons today, I checked out the ticketmaster website and was reminded that The Producers opens on Friday 22nd October at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, with Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Evans in the billed cast. Well, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, was where My Fair Lady opened. I saw it there as well (albeit a different production) and I was in it in Durham. Camelot also opened in the Theatre Royal - and I've been in that too in Durham. There's clearly a link between The Producers and Guys and Dolls (which, yes, Durham, blah blah blah). That link is Nathan Lane. But he's not in the London cast.

At about 4pm today, I got a message on my answerphone. Richard Dreyfuss isn't in the cast in London anymore. Nathan Lane is. How cool is that!?

It's pretty cool.

Oh... and Miss Saigon played the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Monty Python played there too, as did the League of Gentlemen. I've only been to that theatre once before. I'm looking forward to going again.


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