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Thursday, July 12

It's A Right Laugh

Why do I go out to see live performance? Well, one answer might be that I'm usually out there because I'm due to go on stage myself and give my ego an airing. That's possibly why I do it. Though I go to gigs where I'm not booked, so it's not just that. Maybe you might add that I'm a practitioner of the craft of showing off and I'm looking for tips on how to do it more effectively. Again, I think that's not entirely unfair. There might even be the outside chance that I just love a live performance and the fact that anything can happen. That's what I'd like to be the real reason. Perhaps, though, when I'm at a gig I'm not booked on, I'm there for the "Christine Daié" moment.

The WHAT!?

I'm such a musicals geek. However, I'll explain. It's the moment in Phantom of the Opera when the prima donna, Carlotta, goes off in a strop about the fact that bad things are happening in the Paris Opera house.

Carlotta: Well, as long as these things happen. THIS THING does not happen.

The call goes out for who can step in for this rabid soprano at short notice. One chorus girl, perhaps Madame Giry's daughter (played by Jennifer Ellison in the movie) suggests:

Chorine: Christine Daié can do it.

And so Christine is propelled from the chorus to the stage and wins the hearts of both the audience and also her future husband and handsome quasi-hero Raoul.

Anyway, I digress. Not entirely by accident, but I digress nonetheless.

So perhaps you might accuse me of going to see live performance "just in case". Maybe someone will drop out and they'll need a comedian at short notice - step forward Ashley Frieze (aka Christine Daié). I've heard similar stories of Star Trek geeks hanging out in full Star Trek uniform outside of the soundstages where they film Star Trek, just in case someone runs out of the soundstage in a panic, shouting "We need a crew member - stat - if only there were someone who was dressed and ready to go... WAIT A MINUTE!!!".

I don't believe that I go to watch gigs for the chance to perform. Last night, in Southampton, one of the acts hadn't turned up. I was there to watch a friend perform (as well as everyone else). My friend and another act had been told that they might have to do longer. As they told me, I said "Christine Daié can do it", but they didn't get what I meant. Then I said "I'm a comedian" and they said that they might mention it to the promoter. I didn't push the point. After all, I'd gone there to watch and had even bought a ticket.

I went upstairs just before the show was due to start. The MC and one of the other booked acts was there. I know them both. The MC greeted me by saying my name over and over a few times. It became apparent that he wasn't just saying hi. He was saying my name as though it was an obvious answer to a question. The question of "Is there a Christine Daié in the house?". He asked me if I'd be prepared to go on, offering the use of his guitar as a means of making it possible.

I mentioned that I'd been happy to go on and that I had my guitar in the car. He said he'd chat to the promoter to clear it. He came back to say that there was no money. I said to him that I'd do it for free - as encouragement for the promoter to book me in future. Perhaps that's a bit needy. At some point it was decided that I'd go on in the middle of the show, though, and I'd be performing. I stood my ground a little, though, I declared that, if I was to perform, I'd expect a refund on the ticket I'd bought.

Christine Daié doesn't pay to see her own gigs.

So, I went all pre-gig revving up. This is a change in mind from seeing funny to being funny. I still had my kit in the car - the idea being to go and get it and set up between sections of the show. I watched the opening - the opening acts both did longer than originally booked for and the audience enjoyed them greatly.

Come the first break I was de-booked. There was no need for me. I was almost ambivalent. I think I quite liked the idea of going on and having a crack at the audience, but it was no major loss. What had been quite amusing was the way that the MC had introduced me to the audience from the start of the show. He'd said that an act had dropped out and that the show would be slightly different from billed, but then said, in a way that he identified as a little like a 70's Las Vegas lounge-singer compere, "But we have another comedian in the room. Mr Ashley Frieze, everybody" getting me a round of applause as though I were someone they'd heard of. That was weird. Being name checked at a gig I wasn't even playing.

The closing act (promoted from opening act) was stupendously good and I laughed heartily. She mixes energetic performance with filthy naughtiness and a lesser observer might write that off as easy - but there's so much more to her, and some of her lines were just brilliantly conceived of and blasted at the room. Excellent.

A quick name check again at the end for me - er, hi everyone - and the show ended on a massive high.

I proceeded to bore some people who had come to see my friend with discussion of musical theatre. I don't think they were entirely humouring me, but I was in the mindset of a stand-up, having revved up for a gig that didn't happen (at least, I didn't happen) and so I had to use up that motormouth energy somehow. Enthusing about musicals is a way to do it. I think they were not too overfaced by it. I hope not.

I also managed, while outside, to make a couple laugh. I'd commented about a particular song, playing inside the venue, being from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which made this couple laugh. I had to follow that up with my "Dirty Dancing is every movie" spiel, which I'm starting to think could be a really good one to do as an MC. It's guaranteed to be non-scripted, and relies on geekiness and enthusiasm from me - something which are the root of my nature. Worth trying out sometime.

This couple did some jive dancing and were showing off, so I grabbed my friend and swung her around a bit. She was shocked. She's a good height, though, for a dance partner. I should learn some more moves. I really only remember two.

The highlight of the night (not really) was when I went to the toilet. Oh yeah. This is a great story. I went in and noticed the urinals were fairly full. I commented out loud on this, but then set about doing what I had to do, which involved trying to wee slower than they were draining - faster and it would fill up and overflow. Someone I'd been chatting to within the pub came in and stood next to me. His urinal had the same problem and he mentioned it. We agreed it was a challenge. Then something like the following occurred:

Me: Yeah, you really have to concentrate on this, or it will overflow.
Him: Nah. Just go for it. It'll be fine.
Me: I'll get my shoes wet if it overflows. I'll have to control the flow. Like when women do their pelvic floor exercises to tone up their vagina.
Him: You've got a vagina?
Me: No.
Him: Hey, you've got two streams coming out.
Me: Are you looking at my cock?
Him: Two streams - that's not right. And hey that's the wrong colour. You should drink more.
Me: I can't believe you're looking at me pissing AND giving me a running commentary.
Him: It should look more like lime juice, not that colour.
Me: We're freaking out the other guy pissing here.
Him: Your piss smells a bit of sugar puffs - are you diabetic?

There's breaking through the 4th wall in stand-up, and then there's totally inappropriate social interaction. This guy is also a comedian, so he didn't have the filter on. I'm a comedian and have little sense of shame about social interactions - especially when they're pretty funny... but... that was pretty wrong. Still, these things stick in the mind.

So, last night was a good night. I made people laugh in conversation. I didn't make people laugh on stage. I still got a round of applause - for doing nothing - and I got to find out an outsider's view of my wee. All in, that's why I go to gigs...

... or maybe I'm just there to have a good time, whatever that entails.


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