Tonight, after I'd successfully completed my handover of some work to someone else, I headed into London to do a gig that I had various bits of trepidation about. I had first applied for it when I was not so busy and wanted to keep my diary full - it's a good trick to fill the diary, so that you know you've gigs to keep yourself ticking over. I also had gotten the impression that I'd be closing a busy night... I hadn't realised how busy, though, until the email confirming the running order came through. I say email, it was more of telephone directory.
Chatting with my friend, on various journeys last week, we shared our reservations about the logistics of having 20 acts on the same bill, but we also shared a morbid fascination in how such a night might turn out. I decided not to pull, which might have been the best option, and to turn up and see what would happen. Arguably, with so many acts, the room would be full of both acts and their well wishers, before you even tried to recruit an audience. So it shouldn't be a quiet night... though you'd be best to go on earlier while they were still present and in the mood for laughing - unworn down by a tirade of acts each doing "as long as you like, really".
Arriving in London earlier than expected - seriously, where was everyone? - I tried to meet my friend at his first gig of the evening. He was doubling up. Wooo! I thought maybe I'd double up too, sneak onto the bill of the first gig too. After a lot of walking, guided by my new phone's much nicer implementation of Google Maps, towards the given post code, I rang the people at the gig to get directions that involved reversing my steps and going to the actual pub, rather than a nearby, but unrelated postal area.
At the pub, having been nearly charged entry in the vain hope that I might be audience, it became clear that the first gig wasn't going to run. We bailed. One gig down, unperformed. No doubling up for either of us (like I'm short of gigs to add to my total - is that it? is that why I'm doing it? am I trying to hit 1000 before I die?) and we headed toward The Blue Posts pub in Piccadilly.
I've played this pub before, I think. Checks gig list...
...22nd March 2004. I'm actually shocked. That was 15 months into my stand-up career, and I remember how crap I did then. I didn't realise that I was still that crap that far in... yuck. I actually doubled up that night, as the Blue Posts gig was so crap, that I went to the other bar of the same name, across town, and did their gig as well.
Anyhoo. We got to the gig and the room was rammed. As predicted, though, the succession of acts caused an audience to bail in breaks and wither to what we thought would be nobody by the end. Our two gigs might have become none, but that would not have made the Spice Girls rich as much as "Two become one" did. And so, we did our gig to a compact version of the audience. Oh yeah.
Quick aside - "Two become one" by the Spice Girls has a safe sex message in it "Get a little bit wiser baby - put it on, put it on" - yep it's a condom.
Anyway, back to the night, I closed a show to about 8 people, but they were nice, I was feeling funny, I did a short set, suggested that I'd be willing to do an encore, got the encore (it doesn't count, honest, nor does the applause after each song), did the encore and then headed out of London.
The title of this post - two minus one plus two. Well. We had two gigs, that got reduced to one. Then there was the drive home, normally just one person - me - but I had two comedians to share the journey back with. Both the guy I'd done the gig with and also another local act who had also been gigging in London, who joined us for the road trip. I got to know this guy a bit better, which is good, since I'll be doing a gig with him in Scotland later in the year, and it would be a long 16 hours in the car if we'd turned out not to get on.
Overall, it was a cracking night and one where I got to do a good gig in a room where once I'd been bad.