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Monday, May 15

Le Weekend

This weekend comprised two main activities. The first was my article and the second was the gig I performed last night.

The World's Worst 100 Websites
There are some entries on here relating to the construction of this article. I'm now into phase 3, which requires the most concentrated effort. The phases were:
  1. Find over 100 candidates for the list - this came from either sites I knew, or random Google searches - make sure each site is bad enough to be in the list. In other words it must have something distinctly bad about it
  2. Score each site against some arbitrary criteria. Order the sites according to score. Mess about with Excel to weight the scoring system to account for the fact that I can't score out of 10 especially well. Adjust the scores of things which come in equal place to each other, so that each entry is in a unique position.
  3. Write a 100ish word review for each of the 100 worst sites according to the final scores
As I say, I'm in phase 3 now. This is good, since it's phase 3 which actually generates the article which I will, ultimately, get published and be paid for writing. It's a sad fact that phases 1 and 2 had to be completely finished before phase 3 could start. However, now I'm into this 3rd phase, the article can take some sort of shape. I have to provide part 1 - i.e. sites 100-51 - by 22nd May. I've so far reviewed 15 of the first 50. That's 30% of the reviews for part 1 and 15% for the whole article (yes, I know you probably could have worked that out).

The article is more entertaining than this description of it. I hope to bite out another wedge of it tonight as well.

The World's Worst Gig?
Not really. However, it's fair to say that a comedian at my level has to play a fair share of gigs like last night. Thanks to a certain to-remain-nameless Scottish promoter, I've had a lot of experience of this particular sort of gig experience, so I wasn't prepared to appear crestfallen in any way. In fact, listening to the recording I made of the gig, there are some moments which I'm quite pleased with... overall, though, it was nothing like my finest hour and some of it is well worth forgetting. I must learn to speak up when I'm not delivering big. I must also learn to slow down a little more at times too. Anyway, I'm telling you the summary before I get into the story. This is a bit like one of those over-written abstracts to a scientific paper, where reading the paper becomes nothing more than a formality. So, safe in the knowledge that this is just another gig story, you may now continue reading.

The gig was organised by a promoter who uses the epithet "Up For It". It was in Bishop's Castle, which is somewhere in Shropshire. It's not too far from Shrewsbury, Kidderminster and Kinver. I've been to the latter two of these and done gigs. In fact, I did the same promoter's Kinver gig about a year ago and had a whale of a time.

I set off in plenty of time for the gig because I was told by Google that the drive was 4 hours and I though I'd been told by the promoter to be there for 6 for a 7.30 start. I was wrong. He said 6.30. So I was already running early. Then the drive was nearer 3 hours - it's 150 miles, a lot of which is on country roads, so there was room for variability on the timings, but I made good time. Oh, and the promoter was wrong. The show didn't start anything like at the planned time... but we'll see why later.

So, I had time to arrive in this small town, go to the venue, have the wee I'd been saving in my bladder for over an hour (saving is perhaps a strange way to put it - I'd been storing it, to avoid soiling myself or my car, or the side of the road, with it), and be finished before 5.30pm. It was about 5 past. As a result, the bookshop/CD shop/coffee shop (one multi-purpose shop) in the town centre was still open. Bonus. I went in and bought a CD and a coffee. I couldn't be bothered looking for books. With my cappuccino and a notepad, I set my thoughts straight for the evening. I wrote a really bad new song and decided that it was terrible - later in the afternoon, I was to try out another new song I've written and decide that it too was terrible. Plus, I wrote a quick song which I didn't think was terrible, but tried on stage a few minutes later and didn't get much out of, mainly because it was so new that I'd forgotten it. Oh, and another new song appeared too. But I'm jumping ahead in the story again. So, I've had my cappuccino. So far so good.

The shop closed at 5.30 and I went for a wander along the picturesque main street of Bishop's Castle. The comedy club rotates between venues and I wandered past the other venue where they play. I also wandered past a few posters plugging the gig. It's reassuring to see a promoter do that. It shoes that they're trying to get an audience. After I was suitably relaxed, I wandered over to the venue. It was empty. The promoter had arrived, but no audience, and very few random punters in the venue. This is warning sign number one of a tough gig. You can't play to nobody and it's unlikely that lots of people wll turn up out of nowhere... I've seen it done, once, in Salford, and it's usually not like that.

I did my sound-check no audience turned up. Then no other acts turned up. Then they did... but still no audience. During this time, I messed about, wrote a quick two-verse song about the scottish lass who become pregnant during a night on the piss, aged 11! Then I forgot it, though I didn't realise at the time that that is what I was doing. It wasn't looking good. In the end the promoter scraped together 15 people. I think he knew them all. It was enough to allow the gig to go ahead.

I went on to a fairly cold crowd. I was heckled quite quickly by an impulsive heckler - he shouted out whenever he felt like it, irrespective of whether this would make him look like an idiot. At times it was source for amusement, at others it just added a sense of drag (as in slowing, not cross-dressing) to the occasion. In the end, after I'd screwed up my new bit (which got a laugh in the end) about the Scottish lass, I used Ashley-trick-number-7, which is to improvise a song based on the heckler and win the audience. The first version bought me something like 8 bars of applause, which was probably when I should have stopped, but I threw another couple of verses together anyway, BECAUSE I'M AN IDIOT.

I got off the stage after about 28 minutes of being there. I'd gotten some big laughs and some slightly awkward pauses. I'm not entirely ashamed of what happened. If nothing else, I was amazed at how little of my normal material I'd managed to do, considering how long I'd been up there. Still, the other acts were still prepared to talk to me, which was good.

I stayed to watch the rest of the show, drove home with my new Bernstein CD playing, got back at a non-unreasonable time and then went to sleep an hour or so later. A good way to spend a night, in my opinion.


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