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Saturday, March 4

Lazy Day
I am lazy, which might be apparent from my increasing size (obviously not in evidence on this size) and other postings (which you could read if you can be bothered). Sometimes it's almost worth it.

Anyway, I had absolutely no objections to spending a rather relaxing day doing nothing. I had a gig in the evening, so it is always nice to stock up on energy before a busy night. I would have happily followed the original plans to go and help a nearby dog-shelter with their dog walking. Relaxing was good, though.

Chester Zoo
My gig had been arranged at the last minute the previous afternoon. Someone had dropped out from Alexanders in Chester. This is a venue that I'd heard good things about and which I'd applied to for a spot sometime last year. Apparently, I was on a waiting list and my name came up when someone let them down at the last minute. Though perhaps one would rather be the first choice, being any sort of choice is not to be sniffed at.

So, although it required some 200 miles' worth of driving, I willingly left the south of the county to a northern outpost in order to perform my own particular brand of springy joyfulness. The venue itself is quite an important one in its own right. Later this month, it's playing host to a touring show which had good ratings at the Fringe, and they even have Kiki Dee playing there. This is the longest running comedy club outside of London - 16 years, appearently. So, worth 200 miles of anyone's drive.

Sadly when I arrived there had been a booking mix-up. An act from Manchester had been asked to step in as replacement by the act who dropped out. This made some sort of sense. However, the promoter had not been told. I had driven the furthest and was also the one who was listed on the bill - the gig was given to me. This was handy. I had arrived in something of a fluster, having needed the toilet for about and hour and not wanting to stop for a wee, since I might arrive at the venue too late for my sound-check (something which, as usual, proved to be a mere formality which I could have done an hour later). I'd failed to find the door to the venue and had felt rather tense when I eventually got in. My loo visit wasn't enough to calm me down and being told that 200 miles and 2 litres of uncomfortable urine suppression were not going to result in a gig would have really gotten me down. I've joked before that the strain of arriving on time is more pressure than performing, but it's true!

I felt sorry for the other act, but that was that. He stuck around to watch the show, which was in a rather odd format. There were three acts. One did 20 minutes (me), the 2nd did 30 minutes, and the closing act did 40 minutes. No compere. Instead, the closing act came on first and introduced me. Then I introduced the break. Then the closing act came on and introduced act number two, who similarly introduced his own break. Then I went on to introduce the last act. Odd format.

I probably had the easiest gig of everyone. I almost made the mistake of trying new material. It wasn't a mistake, but it was a cost. I think it was better to try it under those circumstances as I learned a lesson about the way I perform. It was also interesting to see how simultaneously rusty I was, and yet how a bit of a break can make me feel fresher about my material. I hadn't done a gig since mid-February, and it really showed (to me). However, I'll repeat, I think I had the easiest job of the night. The audience were quick to laugh at my stuff and I had a strong beginning and end. The middle dipped a little lower than I wanted, but by most standards, it was overall a fine performance (as in "No... it was fine...", rather than "That's mighty fine!").

The rest of the night was a bit odd. Partly it came down to a heckler who took umbrage the attempts of the staff to tell him to shut up (he was pissed and not enjoying the more conversational style of the other two comedians - and heckling to his mates incomprehensibly). By umbrage, I mean that he became obnoxious and defensive, calling the staff the laughter police. He seemed convinced that they were telling him to find the acts funny. What they were telling him to do was to stop spoiling the show. I think he and his mates managed to knock a hole in the show anyway.

Quite oddly, he and his friends all made a special point of telling me and the staff that I had been funny. Sounds like a compliment, right? Well, it's good to know that they enjoyed my act where they hadn't enjoyed others... but I couldn't help but have a sense of disappointment - "So these are my fans are they?"

Heading back to my car after midnight, and after the staff seemed more positive about my chances of returning than I did (if I'm going to incite idiots to protest that I set the standard of funny for a night, then perhaps I should stay in bed, thought I), I suddenly had a pang of foolishness. By a pang, I mean it felt like a stab of something or other. I remembered that the car park shut at midnight. Who shuts pay and display car parks?! I mean what's the point? Just make them free overnight and leave them open. It was a patch of tarmac with a wooden fence.

Luckily, someone else had saved me the bother of crashing through the wooden fence, so I was able to drive through a neat gap in the fence and escape Chester.

Bed at 3.45 - it would have been earlier, but I needed a poo. So I ended the evening as it began. On the toilet. There's an analogy from this story, which sums up my success as an act, resulting in excluded heckler-fans - "what starts out as piss, ends in shit".

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