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Thursday, August 3

I like this train-based blogging thing. It's good to take some time at the end of the day to reflect on things. In an earlier post today I mentioned that I found some posts I made while in the midst of things 2 years ago to be surprisingly lucid and feet on the ground. Perhaps it's time to look at where I am, from a performing point of view at least, now.

Tonight's show was reasonably well attended, and infinitely better attended than last night. I went out there in front of my sister and her friends, my cousin and a friend of his, two old school friends and a further friend of a friend. I could have spoken to the majority of the crowd and addressed them by name. In some cases, I did. As a stand up it was both an easy home crowd and a difficult crowd to play as I was stripped of the pretence that I was some anonymous 'act'.

It's no triumph to invite some acquaintances and family to a room and arse about in front of the for 20 minutes. . . Though we had a laugh. In reality, I was going to be happy if I felt like I wasn't made to look inferior to the other guys performing, and I didn't feel like that had happened.

Comparing this show to my magnum opus, which played in the same venue two years ago, before they upgraded the sound desk to make such a show easier to run, I have to admit that I am nowhere near as committed, and overall, the show is nowhere near as good. I think I'm a more accomplished performer now than I was. That should be the case given the experience I have gained. However, the three of up doing stand up in this setting is a strange fruit. In terms of style, we have nothing in common, likewise experience. Even my relationship with the others is odd. I don my stage manager's hat and boss them about a bit too much. While I'm a reasonably capable techie, I can still manage to mess up occasional details like turning a mic on.

Overall, the biggest disaster is the promotion. That is, the getting bums on seats. I have nearly run out of people I could possibly ask, and the other two have so far brought one audience member between them. I suspect that one of our number will bring noone, such is his commitment and respect for what we are doing. I also suspect that the flyering will be a waste of time, as will be appearances in listings magazines. In short, we have 4 nights left and I suspect we may have already played our last show.

I hope I'm proved wrong. This week is a lot of effort to go to for no further attendances. I am indebted to my girlfriend for driving me around to make this commuting simpler, and rail and bus tickets are costing a fair whack each day. In short I will personally have spent more than tonight's ticket revenues by friday.

There's still a chance that we'll get genuine anonymous people in from the general public, but I doubt it. Why would they come and pay 7.50 for three people they haven't heard of doing a show they don't care about. I wouldn't. Though I encourage anyone reading this to do so!

Do I want out? Well sort of and sort of not. It's something to do. It's a bit of a life lesson for us all, and I feel like maybe it will help the others to face this. I also feel like I'm doing them a favour being their pet techy. Plus, even with poor audiences, it's an interesting challenge to play that room. It's not easy. If nothing else, it's a way of pushing myself into a mood where I'll be warmed up for Edinburgh.

My job is getting enough attention. The show is getting me from 4.20 until 9.30 when it's time to come home. The only thing that is suffering is my home life. I'm not sure it's really worth that. Note to self, don't forget those closest.

On the way to tonight's gig, I ended up in step with someone from the same business park as the one I work at. We got chatting and I purposely revealed that I'm a comedian because it's an easy route to a conversation, and also allows me to play geography games where I tend to know places people I meet also know. The link is the 300 or so performances I've done in random locations around our landmass.

As it happens, there were many geographic coincidences to discuss and we also talked about reading and jobs. A good mix. It made the journey to London pass by quicker and gave me moments to fill with humour and moments not to.

One key discussion point was about selling out. We'd been talking about Ben Elton, who went from alternative comedy to lowest common denominator box office friendly west end. My colleague suggested that not everyone sells out be cited J K Rowling as an example. While I believe that she would probably have written her Harry Potter stories her way whether she was wealthy or not from it, and while she doesn't appear to have allowed money to compromise her vision, even in the Hollywood versions of her novels, I still think she has been negatively affected by success.

Being a writer or performer is basically a lot to do with vanity. I've been aware of that since I started having the big ideas, and I like to remind myself of it. I think that a succesful writer or performer feels they have more license to exercise their vanity than an unsuccessful one. In some cases this leads to brilliance. Take Mel Brooks and The Producers for example (stage, not screen). In Rowling's case, I think she's allowed herself to become overblown without substance. I got bogged down in the 5th Harry Potter book and I blame her.

I tried to extol the virtues of better writing. The witty concise Douglas Adams for example. I also pointed out that terse writing can be easy but not really any good. Dan Brown is the best example. Race through his books, but expect no message.

So. Success can change you. I must now leave the train. Unchanged.


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