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Wednesday, April 11

Working Backwards

In strict chronological order, there's the small matter of about 5 weeks' worth of work, achieved this bank holiday weekend to discuss. And I will. With pictures. I'm amazed at what happened and I can't believe how much work went into it.

However, I shall quickly blether on about last night's comedic adventure. A quick word first on the lead up to the gig. I rushed out of the office at around 4-ish. I took a work-colleague with me to B&Q to return about £150 worth of the paint I hadn't managed to use this weekend. I had intentionally overstocked on paint, since the cost of running out was more time-costly than carrying more around than needed. Following this jaunt into the big orange warehouse of love, I drove the work-colleague into Reading where he lives and went for petrol.

In my mind was something I'd read on someone else's blog about an indiscretion I made at another gig. I somewhat misread the mood of a room and made an arse of myself with some plainly offensive material, which is funny when an audience goes with it, but is just plainly offensive when they don't. I reckoned I managed to get away without it being a huge deal in the end, but, according to this blog, it was "as funny as testicular cancer" - to which I say, it depends who's got it - to which I add "only kidding".

Anyway, reading this blog entry, which pretty much lumped me in the category of "a pointless shit comedian", despite the fact that I didn't get into comedy to impress this particular man, whose opinion counts for precious little, still had an effect on my confidence. I think it was the lack of right to reply that annoyed me. On the one hand, I think I agreed that I'd made a hash of that particular moment in the set, though there were some moments of amusement that came out of it. On the other hand, I didn't like his entire dismissal of what I do "on principle". I wanted to reply on his blog "Well, at least I didn't LOSE your respect" but I didn't get to. In some ways, I've have my say now. Here. Yeah. Rock!

Doubts about whether you're funny are no good for a comedian, and when I look back on the last few gigs I've done, they've, for the most part, been bloody awful. In some cases, I've deliberately used lower key material, rather than my "bankers", for practice and to see it "out there" again, even though it's not necessarily my most laugh-generating stuff. In some cases, I've had a small audience or a tough room and I've just not managed to turn it to my satisfaction. Here's the quick last ten gigs summarised this way:

4th April 2007 - The Windsor Castle, Maidenhead - pub gig, bloody hard work
25th March 2007 - Charity Comedy Night, Leamington Spa - smallish audience, it was up and down for me
20th March 2007 - Long Live Comedy - Newcastle - an absolute cracker, apart from one small section which was new and not funny
19th March 2007 - Catface Cabaret - London - a small audience that needed a lot of working - I had my work cut out, but it was fun
18th March 2007 - Roehampton University Charity Gig - bloody hard work in a room that didn't give a toss
17th March 2007 - Dartington College - lovely gift of a gig
16th March 2007 - West End Brewery, Southampton - an evil evil hard slog, costing me my voice and two guitar strings, but it was very funny to even attempt to be funny in that situation
15th March 2007 - Stand Up And Be Counted, Manchester - the gig I misjudged and was blogged about
14th March 2007 - Farnham Maltings, Farnham - a tricky arts-centre style gig - I did ok, but it went flat in the middle
25th February 2007 - Cooper's Arms, Reading - I had to work fairly hard, but the audience went with it and I enjoyed it

Sometimes what you want is an audience that just laughs hard and makes you feel funny. Sometimes you can't fake being funny. Sometimes you feel so funny that the audience just comes along for the ride out of sheer force of funny - that's the best.

So, I've been up and down, I've had to ride lots of silences. I've done some dodgy material. I've read, for the first time in ages, someone bellyaching about my entire existence as a comedian. Over and above this, I've mixed work, DIY and comedy in a great big melting pot of confusion and I've no idea who I am anymore.

I have some clues. I have some compulsions. Stand-up is one of them.

I drove to Bath having a chuckle along to some TV music. This makes me laugh and I'd love to do it as stand-up. You work out the lyrics behind a TV theme and then sing it over the theme. Fun. I don't think I could find an audience for it, outside of people sitting in the passenger seat of my car and joining in. That still counts, though. Anyway, the process warmed my voice up, relaxed me and made me smiley.

I arrived at the gig an hour earlier than required, did a sound check, went to the loo, and then I got to have a wee wander around Bath. This really helped me to unwind. It was a good idea. I was nicely chilled out when I returned to the venue. I even took some photographs of the place on my phone. Some came out quite well.

Back at the venue, I had a nice relaxing poo - some of the weekend's meat consumption was finally expelled - and sat and chatted with the headliner - a cracking comedian whom I've a lot of time for. This got me in a better mood.

When I took to the stage, the audience proved to be a strange breed. They would either sit quietly, laugh silently or roar and applaud. There was virtually no middle ground. I had to swallow some silences, but I smiled my way into getting laughs here and there too. Some of what I did, broadly speaking, didn't work so well, some of it was more effective. Either way, I felt I gave a reasonable account of myself and I even dropped a 2 year old banker of a routine, simply because I felt like it was time I stopped doing it. I'll end up doing it again very shortly, knowing me, but it was nice to do other stuff instead.

The other comedians and the audience were nice to me when I was off the stage after my set, so I shall conclude that I didn't do a crap job or offend anyone.

I had planned to zoom off home after going on, but I decided to stick around for the rest of the night. I'm so easily lured by the promise of seeing comedy, even if some of the acts were funny because they weren't funny.

I got home in time to go to bed and I didn't bother having an evening meal. I'd like to get my eating habits back on track. Yesterday I had a smallish lunch and supplemented it with a lot of fruit eating and a haircut (hair weighs). Today, sadly, my lunch was quite greasy, coming from an Italian cafe in a shopping centre in Aldershot - they'd run out of the healthy pasta, so I had a hot ciabatta. Nevermind. I still feel like missing a meal was a good move last night.

So, I feel buoyed by my comedic exploits of last night, which bodes well for the myriad gigs entering my diary at the moment.

Most importantly, I finally found my Amazon order, which was delivered to the office and then left on a desk for me in the Support department. Nobody told me it was there. I work nowhere near the support department. In fact, it was a completely pointless thing for my packages to be put there and almost guaranteed that I wouldn't receive them. Thank you people. I think it's a testament to the size of the company that I work for that the people at the front desk still don't know my name or which department I work in. Beauty.


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