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Thursday, March 27

Beating About The Bush

I had been booked into a gig today. It was "somewhere in kent". I realised, the previous night, that I still hadn't been given the address or arrival time by the promoter, so I emailed him.

If I were a promoter, I'd be double checking my acts knew where to come on the week of the gig. I'd certainly check all email on the day of the gig.

I heard nothing back. I googled the gig. I found a listing without my name on it from a gig that had long since happened. I also found a number. I left a couple of messages at that number. I also tried to find contact details for this promoter on the comedy forums. Nothing.

I could not justify leaving the office to go to a gig whose address I'd deduced and which I didn't think was happening. An email from another act in the same boat made me feel it was probably off. So I stayed in the office a bit later than planned, which was necessary as we were having a "war room" type meeting on the planning of the project which underpins all our potential success/failure in the next few months.

Then I got the call. Could I do another gig? The Holly Bush pub in Cradley Heath. I'd done this last only 4 weeks previously, during a week where I missed two nights' sleep. I told them that they'd have to double check that it was ok for me to repeat the gig, given how recently I'd been there.

The call which came back told me I was needed. I drove to the gig in good spirits. Though one booking had fallen through, another dropped along to replace it. I listened to some good radio comedy. I listened to my mp3 player. I made myself chuckle with memories of when I was a student, along with some godawful recordings I have of myself being shit musically. I was in fine spirits.

I got to the gig and the compere told me that he'd had some bad news and didn't really feel up to the gig. Would I mind MCing? I hadn't really had time to prepare any non-musical stuff, so I agreed to MC with banter and my musical stuff.

As gigs go, it was something of a bear pit. The audience were highly spirited and not necessarily easy to please. However, I had a whale of a time with them. Playing on all the weirdness of the gig and making it enjoyable for myself at least. There was a 7 year old child in the room, whose parents didn't seem to mind a gutter-language show happening in front of. He heckled. I brought him on as an act. He refused to tell the joke I wanted him to - believe me, it would have killed the room and he would have been in the local paper. Still, it was his choice and I couldn't force a child to tell a filthy joke against his will, no matter how funny.

Don't get me wrong. Filthy language in front of children is not something I approve of. I think it was delightfully wrong in a situation where the parents didn't care and the environment was a self-declared "group of pikeys". In fact one woman complained to me that the other people in the audience weren't really pikey enough to call themselves pikeys. I had no idea that there were echelons within the pikey community.

I think I raised the crowd into a bit of a rabble, but I certainly kept them from getting the better of me, and this set the bar. The other acts had to raise their game to play this audience and it was good to see what happens when a bunch of lesser experienced acts, at what's supposed to be a friendly new acts night, have to just roll with the audience they've got.

I had a whale of a time. I may have flirted with some audience members, but that's just my new party trick. I'm a puppy chasing a juggernaut.


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