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Tuesday, October 26


I gigged in Taunton tonight (Monday night). It's a venue I've performed in on several occasions and I pretty much knew what to expect. You take a youthful audience, give them a free comedy night in an arts centre, import a bunch of London acts (with me as a lone ranger coming in my own car from a different direction), and see what happens. As I knew the venue and the format, I was comfortable clocking in a few minutes after the gig start time, after a nice leisurely drive (listening to Robin Ince and Josie Long's podcast).

The only real challenge was the absence of a techie, which meant that I had to do my own sound - this proved remarkably unchallenging. Of minor note was the fact that the rest of the show had been short and to the point. I don't think any of the acts had done particularly long or self-indulgent sets. This was about to change. I videoed the gig, and I shall, at some point, see how I behaved. It was a version of me that I may or may not be proud of.

I think I was wrong, the other night, when I said that I'm not the sort of comedian who appoints a gimp for the duration of the night and then makes them the butt of every joke. I don't set out to do that, and I don't always see it as necessary, but I have been known to do that. It can work awfully well. I think it's usually some minor detail of someone's behaviour which draws me to them and enables me to create a whole world of insults around some made up character traits that I've exaggerated.

So it was the rather unfortunate Tom, tonight, who found me throwing jokes at him, with a room of baying people basically egging me on. Of the 35 minutes or so that I did on stage, poor Tom probably got about 5 or 6 minutes of attention - it wasn't that bad. In some cases, I was just using him as punctuation. However, I have to admit that I don't always keep myself as the victim of my own humour.

I wonder what it means. Do I attack pleasant young people during my set as some sort of curmudgeonly attack on youth itself? Do I find weakness, when I'm playing the alpha male role, to be a lure? Is it just that I like mimicry of whatever I see in front of me, and know that returning to the same subject, like a chorus, can be very funny? Does it matter?

I don't think I was brutal. I tried to be creative, while not being too afraid to wander through stereotypes and well-worn joke territory. In fairness, I censored out quite a few things that entered my head, so I wasn't going all out to attack the poor fella. I also changed tactic. On the one hand I was creatively making visual comparisons between the chap and "Where's Wally?". Then I'd move to teenage pregnancy. The next minute I was mock-flirting in a gay-cowboy-woodsman kind of a way. It wasn't so much an attack as an explosion of enthusiasm.

I wish I'd had longer with the crowd, but they pretty much frosted up at 25 minutes, so I was pushing it harder and harder as I did longer. The energy levels (figurative, not spooky) weren't quite right, so I brought the thing to a conclusion.

On the way home, some Doctor Who podcasts, including The Ood Cast and The Doctor Who Podcast. Google them.

In summary, I like gigging in Taunton.


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