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Thursday, April 19

About Last Night

Every time I do a gig, that's one fewer left to do in the diary. Yesterday's gig didn't actually make it into the diary before I did it. I got booked on Tuesday for a Wednesday gig, and didn't have any time with my computer between being booked and going along. As a comedian, who wants to keep busy, I need a one-in-one-out system to keep the diary stoked. Yesterday I took a booking for another gig too, so I'm definitely keeping the diary up to speed.

A friend of mine used to aim to have about 50 bookings in hand. As of today, I have between 20 and 25. This does not include the gigs I'll be doing in Edinburgh. That's not bad, but it's still slacker than I want. Note to self - book more.

I'll be honest, I wasn't really in the mood for another gig last night. I love doing stand-up and I'm really keen to push myself out of the easy mould of guitar act that I've fallen into. MCing a gig, which is what I was down to do, is something which can be truly character building. No guitar for safety, and it's not a good idea to lose the room, or appear to have done so. So you have to be on the ball and keep the showbiz pretence up.

I wasn't feeling particularly showbiz. I felt like a wet towel. The exhaustion of the previous evening's exertions plus a day in the office left me in a mood where my brain was not functioning at its best and I wasn't feeling very cheery. I needed some fixing and I had about 2 and half hours to kill from leaving the office to the official start of the gig.

I started off by trying retail therapy in Asda. The only thing I bought was the 50p parking ticket. There were some nice shirts at £3, but the size nazis had been in, so my XL wasn't there for the buying. Then I progressed to Tesco where I didn't even have to pay to park. I bought a paper. A red top. The Sun. I'm not proud. I was just looking for material. I got two jokes - one about Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty, which was news I already had heard - and another, which I didn't tell on stage, about the page 3 girl. I didn't tell it, because it wasn't that funny. The page 3 girl was one of the contenders for the current ITV reality show to find a star for the musical Grease. She was on page 3. Topless. My joke was an old engineering joke, which seemed apposite for the situation. Problem is that I couldn't find an easy and concise way to get to the punchline "grease nipples". At the end of the day, if there's no neat way there, it's probably not going to get a laugh... leaving me showing pictures of topless teenagers (well, a 19 year old) to an audience... and that's not right.

So I didn't do it.

I went into Aldershot and read through the whole of The Sun (as opposed to the "whole of the moon") over a Subway. Nothing much in there.

Then I listened to the recording of the gig I did in Bradford. I was on for about 30 minutes, so listening to it was an opportunity to relive the highs, lows, and also kill some time. I was asked on the journey home to rate my performance between 1 and 10. I gave myself eight and half. I've now downgraded this to a seven and a half. I was ok. I got away with loads. There were some flashes of inspiration, but it could so easily have gotten out of control. But it didn't and it's in the past... and there are some moments that I'll treasure.

I went into the gig in a slightly better mood than I'd been at work. My energy levels were still quite low, though. In fact, the empty venue only made me feel even lower, as the manager told me how the gig had been going not so well and how attendance at the venue was also quite poor at the moment.

Great. Now be funny fat boy.

Still, I wasn't going to bemoan anything. I had managed to arrive the same time as another act and we swapped battle stories. He's great and I had confidence that he'd do well. The headline act was someone I wanted to see.

To challenge my potential for improved mood, there was a call from my roofer - it went to answer phone. Essentially, my chimney is knackered. The news made my wallet cringe.

Still, people were arriving at the venue and the headliner arrived, nice and early, and we were in the mood to get going.

I bumbled onto the stage, compered with a combination of skill and clumsiness that somehow they managed to let me get away with, bantered with the audience well enough (hack, but effective) to get them to like me, and then brought on the first act. He did well and I was happy that the combination of our efforts (probably more his than mine - he knows how to relax and play it for what it is) was a good start to the night.

The headliner, a charismatic mature comedian, who knows his showbiz, was very complimentary of my skills. I appreciate feedback, positive and negative, but I won't let myself believe anything too good too much - that way complacency lies. The manager has also commented, each time I've played there, that my compering tends to be in the rare category for that venue of making the audience laugh. I think it was just a case of the gig being due for a good one. The numbers were good. The people who might just happen to be there and disrupt the show, were few in number, and I think the change in season has settled down a bit, and people are more likely to know how they feel about life, which makes for a more settled audience.

So, it turned into a good night. I used my new technique of "being very nice to the audience", which is naturally what I want to do anyway. As a result, they were increasingly good-natured and the night built nicely. I did material in the middle section, around the middle act. The headliner got his introduction and back announcement. The audience loved him. Me and the middle act (the opener had left) loved him. I laughed very hard in lots of different ways.

That, my dear reader, is what a comedy night should be like.

I drove home in a good mood and feeling a bit hungry. The fact that I'd only just written about my intention to stay on the eating wagon meant that I couldn't even allow myself some convenience/takeaway food on the way home, since I'd have to come here and confess it. Even my Subway previously had been devoid of much in the way of cheese/fat.

Oh dear.

Today I set out to get myself a roast lunch and found myself loading a plate with salad. The wagon is under me today, whether I like it or not.

The gig last night had been a real pick-me-up, but I was really exhausted when I got home. I slept. I overslept, in fact, but I managed to get to work on time. Once at work, the call from the roofer, which arrived over my coffee, made me late in arriving to my desk. It also added a month's salary to my roofing bill. Yuck.

I'm feeling optimistic, though. Comedy is working out for me at the moment and I know the house will be great when it's finished.

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