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Thursday, October 7

Worlds Collide

Sometimes worlds collide. It can be good, or it can be bad. Either way, it can make you go "Oh My God" (other non-existent deities are available). On Tuesday night I had two world-colliding experiences.

What Are You Doing Here?
The venue I was performing at is an experimental theatre event. I had seen the names of the organisers in passing and had also performed at the space the previous week. I had been booked by someone whom I don't know personally, but nearly know. My booker was a comedy cabaret/character performer who uses the same venues as I do when I go to Edinburgh. So the worlds are joined, but we're not close.

I arrived at the venue last night with an ex-colleague, who has graduated from "someone I used to manage in my team" to "London pal". He also moved from Hungary to the UK for the privilege of this upgrade in life. It's more complex than that, but I'm simplifying for brevity. On the door, a lady greeted us and then things kicked off a little.

The woman running the theatre space used to be a co-volunteer on a scheme I did 6 years ago. In the intervening time, when she fell off the radar, she's managed to get married, have a child, have most of her 20's, and then reappear in my life (or maybe I reappeared in her) in a totally incidental and unrelated way. Not earth shattering, but it felt like things had to re-tilt and re-align after.

Why Are They/Is He Acting Like That?
Then the fated performance. I think there were a couple of mix ups. I don't think it was clear when I should have started or ended my performance. There was a billed start-time, but a directive to flex it to get an audience, and not a strong statement of "but you must end by". I was in the wrong starting late and doing a full slot. It would have been better to do a bit less.

Part way through my performance, two women came in, dressed as clowns, and fussing slightly. Not terribly disruptive, but not terribly observant of "don't interrupt the performance". As I was in stand-up mode, I bantered with them "Ah, Stephen Sondheim got my message, then". This is a joke I'm too proud of. "What are your names?" - "Doris and Gladys" - "Two of my favourite 'iss' names". Light hearted.

Partway through a routine, one of them asked, bluntly, "When do you finish?". I pretended it was a heckle, quite a scathing heckle if you think about it... then I pretended it was a chat up line. In the end, it was clear it wasn't a joke and they wanted to go on stage now as it was their turn. I wrapped up, over which they talked, and then gave them the floor. Using a space is a matter of cooperation, and it wasn't like I was holding a full room in rapture.

At the time I was quite peeved with their behaviour - bustling into my performance, in character, and making me feel a bit like I needed to control them as audience members. Even worse, I felt they could have spoken to the techie, quietly, rather than been all weird about it. From their point of view, I was in the wrong - the overrunning smart mouth on stage, cracking jokes about them.

So the worlds collided - we saw things differently. We probably needed to be more sympathetic to each other. I think I tried, but my bete noir is when people talk over my performance. So when the woman complained about my "hotel song" and said "What have you got against Walthamstow", I replied "It's not Walthamstow, it's the hotel I stayed in; you'd have found that out if you'd listened to the song rather than talking over it". I can't keep my big mouth shut.

It's Good When Worlds Collide
You learn something when new combinations are formed. It always opens up a new opportunity or a new way of doing something. Even if that new way isn't to your taste.


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