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Thursday, October 5

Back Into The Land Of Gigging

The holiday now rapidly becoming a distant memory, my diary is instructing me to do much in the way of running around and performing. The holiday has given me some distance, but it has also knocked off some of the gloss that I might have had on my performing skills. However, without the gloss, there's a bit of room for me to be more in the present tense, than just reeling out a previously successful formula of a gig.

So far there have been two gigs this week, and there's a third tonight. I'll describe the ones that have already befallen me, since I have a few minutes and I can't think of anything better to do.

I say that these gigs have befallen me, almost as though they were calamitous. They were fine. Both had people from my office watching, which makes it a little harder to be unselfconscious and also strips away some of the mystique I pretend that I have when I'm on stage. However, with supportive office types in attendance, the audience is also friendlier by the proportion of audience that that person represents. Both gigs this week have been fairly sparsely attended, which has required me to work harder for funny than I like to. I've seen countless jokes, which I know are funny from many performances, fall to the ground. I've seen jokes, which I believe are funny, but hadn't tried out properly, crash and burn. I've also had some gloriously spontaneous moments of hilarity which prove my theory that you can't be knocked off your perch if you stay sympathetic and keep talking.

Anyway, here are the two gigs with a bit more specific detail. I know how we all love the detail.

Monday @ Winchester
I've been appointed a resident MC-ship by my friendly promoter over at The Comedy Bar. Monday was the opening night of this gig. The headliner was Henning Wehn, who was very funny and quite German. The problems we had with this gig were three fold. One, the audience numbers were pretty low. Two, the room hadn't been set up properly and also didn't really ever feel like it had anyone in - it was quite echoey. Three, the place hadn't been cleaned since it was last used. Grime and sick were in places I wouldn't expect them at the start of the night. It was rather unpleasant.

The audience had a good solid central table with some characters on it, and they formed a natural backbone of the room. It's hard to keep much momentum in this environment, but the audience really helped and some of the acts did exceedingly well. Sometimes energy levels dropped, but 12 people can't keep it going alone.

My immediate boss turned up at the end of the first section, in plenty of time to miss the more experimental set that I opened the night with. This is good. I don't mind people coming along to support me, even out of the blue (as I'd had no warning), but it doesn't feel quite right for someone's first impression of my comedy stuff to be me trying stuff out and failing hither and thither in the process... not without at least a warning that that's going to happen.

Still, it was all good natured and friendly in the room and by the end of the night, the laughs had happened and I didn't feel like I needed anything except an editing pen to remove the things which fall into the category of "I thought they were funny but I'm alone in that regard".

Wednesday's Charity Gig in Reading
Another sparsely populated gig. In the end it was maybe 20 people and I'm thankful that a whole table of it was brought there by a work colleague (who reads this blog, so thanks... and thanks for heckling in song).

There were, in total, 9 acts of varying degrees of expertise and duration. The charity had sent a representative who gave an awkward talk about why homeless people don't all smell bad and then mentioned what the charity does. Still, people are quite blinded by the word charity. As soon as you say something's for charity, people feel that selfish glow of having done something selfless, so you could say that you charity is all about blinding goats and people would say - "well, it's a charity".

By the time I came on, the room had laughed and been silent in various degrees of frequency. My aim was to barnstorm the gig. There's no doubt that this was my aim. There's no doubt that this wasn't easy, and I know a few acts who would have made it look a lot easier than I did. However, the recording proves that I didn't barnstorm the room. In fact, I more tickled it in places and squeezed it in others. Still, moments of hilarity happened, and quite a few "bankers" fell to the floor punctured and bleeding. I continued with a grim determination... and actually I quite enjoyed myself. It was such an eclectic audience, many of whom were acts or from the performing arts scene, it was hard to judge if the room had a level. Still, my grab bag of an act, with something for every base, meant that I could leave the stage at the 25 minute mark with a largely unfounded feeling that stopping was the only thing I could do in order to get the next round of applause.

Luckily, I got into bed by 11pm, so the benefits of a local gig truly paid off!


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