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Thursday, June 28

Last Night I was Funny

At some gigs I make the audience laugh a lot. At some gigs I make them laugh a little. That is one axis in the universe of being a comedian. Another axis is the state of being funny. When you're being funny, you can make the audience laugh with unplanned stuff that comes not from the technique, but the sheer feeling of who you are on stage.

Looking at the gig I did in Southampton as MC. It was largely technique, and not very good technique at that. I wasn't feeling it. I wasn't being funny. It's no surprise. I felt like my soul was ebbing away. No wonder I was so introverted, down, and unfunny. If you're not feeling it, you need to rely entirely on technique. It can still be made to work.

I'm the sort of person who uses pre-planned technique things in my set, which is a shame, because I'm really only at my best when I'm being funny.

Last night, the audience reaction was variable and it was a tough enough room for any room sized laugh to be considered a massive triumph. However, I was feeling confident AND funny. The net result of this was that I absorbed silences, or joked through them, and I had an answer. I had an answer to whatever happened. That's part of being funny for me. I could also get laughs by reacting to the crowd without even using words. That's another part.

Note: as always, I'm commenting on my performance in relation to my own scale of success, not anyone else's. I'm not claiming to be anything more than I truly am, only claiming which version of me I felt I was being last night. It's nobody's business but my own what I claim on my own blog, but I thought I'd qualify what I mean by this rambling anyway. It is nice to acknowledge these things.

The moment I got the room was just after a banker had failed either prompting, or caused by a heckle on the punchline. I don't know. I knew, however, to handle the heckler. It bought me the room. Here's what happened. Heckler in plain type, me in bold, my thoughts in italics:
Hadee deedee doh - I've no idea what that means - just repeat it back
Hadee deedee doh?
Hadeeedee do do - fine use "old faithful"
I'm sorry, mate. I don't speak "pissed" - it's an oldie but a goodie and, oh look, the audience have laughed heartily there
I'm not drunk. I'm a northerner. - Ok. There's something to get my teeth into. Let's see if I can get him on side or take the piss.
A northerner? Where in the north are you from. I'm a northerner too. From Leeds - Make him see I'm not some southerner taking the piss
I'm from Manchester. Well that's not funny
The RIGHT side of the Pennines. I'll just check the map of the country in my head, because I think... yes... this is great...
I think you'll find that's on the left of the Pennines - Oh look, the room's erupted. That's nice. I'm very proud that I thought of saying that. Shall I tell them how proud I am... might look a bit smug. Ah, even the heckler's laughing at that one. Jolly good - let's press on, shall we...

Yes, my internal monologue during a gig does sound quite a lot like that. A good moment. I know I shouldn't rely so heavily on the old fashioned heckler responses, but sometimes they're an opening for the real me to come through.


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