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Friday, March 4

This was my last day in the office until after my trip. I probably did some stuff to make sure I wouldn't be missed. Anyway, I was only going to be away from the office for less than a week. Surely not much could happen in my absence. As it happens, it did and I came back to find that various responsibilities and roles had been redefined... of course!

Anyway, the plan was to drive to the Comedy Store for my 10 minute open spot (I felt revved up and ready for that) then drive to my hotel as soon as possible and get some sleep ready for the early flight in the morning. The flight left around 9am, so I was due a really early wake up in order to be in the airport in plenty of time for it.

As I drove to the gig I had a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. This particular spot had been reallocated after a bunch of date reshuffles and I hadn't received a call the previous night confirming that I was still coming. The first time I'd been to the Comedy Store, I hadn't received such a call, but the second time I went, I was called the day before. The technician/stage-manager is quite a meticulous guy and I wondered whether, perhaps, for some reason, things had gone wrong. That would have been a pain in the arse.

As a nice little subplot to all of this, my lady friend in Southampton was threatening to drive to Manchester to come and see me off. This sort of threat I can deal with. There was some doubt as to whether she'd really come all that way for what would have been an evening's company and then an early departure for the pair of us. I didn't think she would, but kind of hoped she might. Why not. We're both young. Well, she is and I'm in denial. However, as the evening progressed, it became more of a worry.

As I arrived at the store dressing room, my worries started to crystallise. My name wasn't on the white board. Another act's name was there instead. I immediately discussed it with the techie and he was reluctant to put two acts on the bill, but he was also pragmatic and interested in trying to be fair to all concerned, recognising that I'd travelled all the way from Newcastle in good faith. Nice guy. It was left up to the other guy on the bill, who was, at least, local, and could be rearranged for another time. During the discussion, I saw "the file". The Comedy Store are very good at reviewing new acts. They take notes. They file them. They deal with this business with care and respect. I was impressed. I asked whether I was really getting anywhere, or whether these spots were just a placebo for a newbie like me. The answer I got in return was useful. In order to come across as a professional and effective comedian, I need simply to relax into the set and deliver it with confidence and expertise. I think I sort of knew that... but it was useful to hear what they're looking for.

The other open spot appeared and was reluctant to step down as he had friends in the audience. Fair enough. What then? Well, we both go on, but doing shorter sets. I was put back to the second section. This meant I was performing later than I had expected. It was a reasonable decision on the part of the stage-manager and it worked in my favour, I think. The compere was someone for whom I have a great deal of respect and he gave me a good stage to work on. An early heckle provided me my first laugh as I sarcastically agreed with the heckler that I was, indeed, Kylie Minogue. I relaxed into my shtick and had a good time. This is what it's all about. You do your little dance, they clap and everyone's a winner.

I had started to worry that I might have a visitor from Southampton, once the bill had been rearranged. Being put on later took away from my sleeping hours and put a bit more pressure on me, but didn't amount to a massive problem all in. However, if there was an imminent arrival of someone who would need company once in the strange city of Manchester, my being occupied elsewhere for longer than expected would have been problematic. She didn't come. Don't worry. This story can stop. I drove to my hotel room, rang her up and chatted late into the night. I had done a good gig. I ended the day in nice virtual company and even managed to wake up on time for going to the airport the following day. No problems. Okay, so the stress before the gig had been a problem, and I had totally failed to notice the location of the hotel despite driving past it three times... but apart from that, not a problemo.


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