The first two shows I saw were 30 minutes in length and in the same room where we're doing The Seven Deadly Jokes. I was curious to see what was happening in that room without us. In particular one of the shows has a big song in it and I wanted to know what it sounded like from within the room. I found out.
Our show went reasonably well. I think we're comfortable with it and know how to play it. It's clear now that some changes need to be made, since the show noticeably flattens here and there. It should be relatively easy to do, I think. We're having a meeting today to thrash it out.
After one show there comes another and we played to an audience of four at The Hive at 3.30. This is not the end of the world and was a chance to have a bit of a muck about. It also meant we ran a smaller show and then headed to the next venue in time to exit-flyer the previous show and be ready in plenty of time for ours.
Our room grudgingly filled up. It started out ok, but eventually more people drifted in. It's a good room for that, I suppose. It's just a shame that they can't turn up on time. The mood of this audience was a bit tricky, but I had fun with them in the end. Sometimes you have to take a few risks and then the audience will come on side. I did a bit of audience interaction and some high-energy stuff and it all started to come together.
After the show I met a friend for coffee and we struggled to get a table outside of Starbucks. In the end we had to ask whether we could go "sharesies" with a nice girl who was sitting quietly eating her fried food. She didn't mind. The German family next to us insisted they needed all 6 chairs around their table. I say family, there were two of them... and nobody else showed up! Weird. They like sitting within a circle of 4 empty chairs... or perhaps their 4 kids are invisible to the naked eye. Or may they are stealth kids - hidden from view to all enemies. Who knows?
Coffee was followed by a chat to my girlfriend on the phone. I was a bit worried about this chat overrunning as I had a gig to attend and I also needed to put a new string on my guitar, the A string having snapped at the end of the previous show. I eventually raced into the venue, did all the sound checking, and then... well, we had one of "those" shows.
For reasons which can only be guessed at, you sometimes get an audience that simply can't laugh. I watched a cavalcade of experienced and good acts get less than they deserved from this audience and it got rather amusing. There was just something amiss. I think it was partially a language barrier - and I say that in a non-patronising way - I think that we were all delivering gags at breakneck pace in order to give them maximum impact, and I think only half the audience could understand the nuances of language at that speed.
This doesn't have to be a problem in comedy. One of the things we talk about in The Seven Deadly Jokes is the fact that people can laugh at a joke they don't get, based simply on the atmosphere of others laughing. This was illustrated in the show before ours today where a 4 year old lad laughed instinctively with the audience at most punchlines. It just was funny. So, an audience doesn't need to get the jokes... they just need to feel the funny.
At 7.15 - they weren't feeling the funny.
At the 8.30 show I watched, the audience were. That's how it works. No point in taking it to heart.
I've avoided total collapse, I've been here less than a week, I've enjoyed my audiences so far, and I'm learning to moonwalk. That's the fringe.