I'd managed, on the weekend, to buy some Aspirin - this seemed to deal with my rough throat well enough. After work, we headed off to Scarborough.
The last time I played the gig in Scarborough I died pretty horribly on my arse. They are not an audience you can afford to rely on. You have to show them who is boss and warm them through hard. They can laugh, but it's not easy. I had been significantly less experienced the last time and I got spooked when they didn't go for my stuff and failed to reach out to them. I had the chance to break that duck this time and I wasn't going to let my run of good gigs get broken by what should have been a good room full of people in a cheery seaside town.
I knew the opening act and he asked me how the gig was. I lied to him. I told him good things about the audience (well, I didn't tell him untrue things, I just omitted the tale of my previous death). He had a tough, but successful opening. Telling him to fear them wouldn't have helped.
In the middle section there were two open spots. I was the second. The first guy had some nice ideas but he ultimately got a similar response to the treatment I'd received on my last visit. I stood on the sidelines not sure of how things would go for me, but not too worried about exceeding the previous performance. As the MC hit the stage between acts, he had a go at some blonde girl who had been chatting to her mates during the dying act. She tried to answer back, but her protestations only made matters worse for her. This banter brought the room back. It also gave me an idea. Should the blonde girl get difficult during my set, I could use my special trick for dealing with hecklers - sing a song about them. The room was going to be mine. I was smiling broadly as I hit the stage. I could tackle the demons of old and Scarborough would be mine.
I didn't need to pull anything special out of the hat. The gig went very well for me. I'm a better act now than I was. I did my usual 10 minute set - 10 minutes of shite... polished shite... but my usual shite, nonetheless. They laughed and I loved them for it.
As I hit the bar, the opening act made some comment about how he wished he could play guitar. As far as I was concerned, he had a point. Guitar comedy (in this case with my new guitar) is pretty much cheating. It's cheapish... but it can entertain an audience and it had done on this occasion. I felt good. The comedian later apologised for his comments and I felt the need to apologise for lying about the crowd. No hard feelings. I don't claim to be a great comedian or have any groundbreaking material. I just want to be as good as I can be.
Some guy in the bar (audience member) approached me and said something like "Nice set, but you've got to admit - the blonde girl helped you". I gave some tightlipped response and he added - "Yeah, but she did help you out, didn't she?". I replied "Well, it was either that or the 220 gigs I've done in my career" - I smiled pointedly at him. He was meant to laugh. If there had been a big audience listening, they would all have laughed and he would have laughed with them. Face to face, he just went all sheepish and turned away. Had he not been such a cock, I might have felt guilty. Still, it was true, the blonde girl had helped me - she tuned my guitar before the show.