After work, I was due to do a gig in Stockton. I've played this venue before and the promoter there has paid me for my services. However, on this occasion, I'd asked him for an open spot. There was a simple reason for this. I'd not done a stand-up gig in a while and I was due on at the Comedy Store in Manchester the following night. The idea was to use the gig as a warm up. I had also intended to do the same with a gig on the Tuesday night, but I accidentally stole Tuesday night to steal down to Southampton, so I had to use this one opportunity to get "back into the zone".
The night was reviewed by a BBC correspondant. However, reading the review and comparing it to exactly what happened on the night is a bit surreal. There's truth in it, but it's equally quite inaccurate. I am pleased to have gained the phrase mildly racist, which I now use as part of the routine that the review, quite rightly, took offence at. I have also rewritten the offensive punchline of the routine so that it can't cause the offensive which warranted the term "racist" (without attenuation to make it seem less of an insult) if someone felt upset by it. Needless to say, I didn't set out to be controversial, but my punchline, if taken out of context, which it clearly was being, lost its irony and just sounded like I was turning a bit Herman Goerring.
Anyway, I digress. I'll review the night in question. The room was quite empty and lacking in atmosphere at the start of the evening. The audience were frosty and unreceptive. The compere had trouble getting too much and the first act went through his 20 minutes with minimal response from the audience. After a break, some beer and a long hard look at themselves, the audience became more cheerful. In the second section, the compere got more response from them and the first act did reasonably well. I followed and had a really nice gig. In places, it was a stormer. I realised that the audience had a voice and that they would laugh. I trusted them enough to try out a new bit of routine (I'd thought of it that evening while restringing my guitar) and I also felt comfortable enough to do Fluffy, a routine I usually reserve for audiences I feel safe with. Overall, I came off stage feeling like the room had cracked. My self-confidence was preserved very nicely, thank you.
It was in the post-show chat that it was explained to me how easily my Bernard Manning (I'm a big fat racist northern bastard) Blues could be taken out of context - i.e. despite the fact that I'm singing the line in a Bernard Manning impression, some people might hear that line and assume that I'm trying to get a laugh from the meaning of the words, rather than the way they take a racist-mouthing-off to extreme... It's a fine line between being ironic and just mimicking the thing, and I didn't want to have my artistic integrity intact BUT ALSO a series of pissed off audience and promoters who had misunderstood... especially since it wasn't all that clever a joke. In some ways it's funnier now with the rewrite. In some ways, telling the story of the rewrite is, itself, funnier.
So, the Stockton gig was a winner. Yay!
Then I went home to pretend that I hadn't lost my passport. I'm not stupid enough to lose my passport... it's just misplaced. It's here somewhere... ah don't be silly. I'll just check this stack of papers. Ah... maybe I'll check this other stack. It's in the house. I haven't left it somewhere... and so on.
It turned up in the bag which I was going to use as hand-luggage anyway. Duh! Funnily enough, I'd lost it before the trip in which it got into that bag. I should just keep it somewhere safe. It's presently on the desk in front of me.