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Sunday, May 1

Without breakfast, we headed back down south. I say south with reservations, we were already incredibly northern and these things really are a matter of perspective. I'd had to modify one of my routines to cope with this fact... luckily I could leverage some more laughs out of the change I'd made, so it was a double bonus. Bonus-aroo.

We found a cafe to have lunch. I had breakfast - the all day breakfast - it only took a few minutes to eat. The restaurant had run out of eggs. Eggs! Of all the things to run out of! So I made do with a substitution of eggs for beans. You'd think they'd substitute a cheaper price, but no. In fact, when we'd gotten to the till, we'd been overcharged for some of the drinks. When we pointed out the mistake, the waitress started offering us settlement prices... these settlement prices were always a few pence above the amount they should have charged us - I calculated it easily enough in my head and said what it should have been. In addition, she was insisting that we add a tip. So, they'd overcharged us and wanted to bargain for a higher than fair price AND a tip. The place was already over-priced. As it happens we couldn't be bothered dickering over a few 10's of pence and did round up our contributions to the bill enough to cover a tip. Still, there was a hell of a lot of cheek going on at that moment.

Driving through torrential rain seemed to be the order of the day for our return down to Edinburgh. We put up with it. Such is the way of nature - it can't be argued with... and then found ourselves with a nice day on our hands in Edinburgh. We had a couple of hours to kill before going to the final gig of the tour in Prestwick. The ailing computer managed to get our attentions and perhaps it's no longer ailing as much.

Conversation was light-hearted and earlier in the day we'd managed to come up with some amusing material about Glasgow's Ice Cream wars... amusing to me at least. Again, I won't be using this material. It's not for me. That's fine. I like writing. This blog is probable testament to that fact.

Anyhoo. We journeyed to Prestwick for the gig. So far the tour had been hard, but I hadn't found an audience I couldn't work with. This was going to change.

The gig in Prestwick was a free gig. It was held in the public bar of a pub. There was a raised area and some of the audience were sitting on it. The rest of the audience were sitting round it and round the rest of the pub. There was a vantage point from which you could see everywhere, but, sadly, you couldn't see everywhere without turning through about 270 degrees. My problem, as a guitar act, is that I am stuck to the microphone stand and can't turn a great deal, or the microphone doesn't work. This was going to be hard.

It was harder. The room wasn't listening. I went on to a room that didn't care and my job was to make the listeners laugh and make the non-listeners shut up. Musical comedy can sometimes turn off a rowdy crowd as there's a social convention that one can talk over songs. Go to a bands night and people often talk over the music - there's a hubbub and the music is a background. That doesn't work in comedy. Comedy is about supplying punchlines and getting laughs. I've been in this sort of situation before and there's one solution I've used - make it big. Now, there's big and there's BIG. I did somewhere in between, I made all my material very loud and hard-hitting. An objective part of my brain was wondering how I was going to make my pendantry about grammar work in an audience that were barely able to listen, let alone actually listening. I was surprised when I heard myself do it. I made it work for the listeners and I think I drew people in. I spent some of my time working on crowd control too, but it was really really hard. I was charmingly vitriolic to those people who weren't listening and worked on bullying the non-listeners with my band of actual audience members. You do what you can when you're under the spotlight.

Just as I was closing - after about 20 minutes on the stage - I got heckled. I ate the heckler for breakfast. By that stage, I really didn't care. I was not horrible to him, I simply deflected his comments and made funny from the situation. In some ways, I'd been doing a trick on the room. I'd been pushing energy at them to get them to listen and, when they appeared to be with me, then tried to bring them to my pace, rather than blast at them the full time. The fact that I was, by the end of my stint, comfortable to use a smile as a punchline, was indicative of how much confidence I had in my security on the stage. But... the room was still blethering on as I left the stage. I'd put it in a better position than I'd found it, but I'd expended ALL of my good humour and physical energy in the process. I felt almost like crying when I left the stage, my face was like thunder and I was in a real mood of depression.

As a consolation, an act I respect greatly gave me strong praise for my efforts and the promoter standing next to him gave me a booking. You don't get that for being shit. I also didn't get the buzz of the gig at that moment in time.

I packed my stuff away and then had to get out of the room. I felt very badly done to by the whole experience, but I knew what the problem was. I'd given a bunch of largely ungrateful bastards all of my happiness and they'd absorbed in. The idea is that they're supposed to laugh back and fuel me for the next bit. They hadn't... I'd run out.

I had my methods of getting my head back together. I went for a walk. I rang my girlfriend. I got to a stage of feeling okish. When I returned to the gig, the middle act was having an easier time, but still working hard. He did a great job and I was pleased that the room was cracking. The closing act took the roof off and it was marvellous to watch. Where the opening act (me) had drained me of my energy, the laughter and my own appreciation of the comedy on display from the closing act recharged my joy-batteries. Thank goodness for that!

As we were packing stuff for taking to the car, one of the audience members came over and was very very positive about my stuff. He asked about other dates and whether I had a website. I guess he wanted to hear the stuff without the conversation track. That was quite a boost. I'm not after the adoration or stardom, but satisfaction in a job well done can come when you see that someone's appreciated it.

Hungry, I bought food from a nearby takeaway and managed to avoid the fight which nearly broke out in the street.

I was taken back to Edinburgh and I drove myself from there back to Newcastle. I hit my bed at around 4am. I was very very tired. However, I set an alarm clock for lunchtime the following day. I had a gig to do. Frustratingly, having shouted down the Prestwick rabble, I didn't have much of a voice to use at this gig. Perhaps some sleep would sort it out.


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