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Friday, April 20

Friday Night is Music Night

Owing to various trips and commitments, it had been over a week since I last performed and I had a gig to go to. On top of that, I was using the gig to run in some new material. Running in material can also be a way of saying "trying to do something unwritten to see if there's any point in bothering" - we all have our euphemisms or ways of putting things, like that time at the checkout of the garden centre when I said "Right, thanks... now, off home to plug these into the soil and see which ones die" - that's pretty much what it's like with new jokes.

I scribbled some stuff down, in as much as I put it into the computer and then printed it out, and then headed off. I discovered my arrival time was going to be put under time-pressure when I received a call from the MC that night asking if I'd help set up the PA system. Would I? Yes, I would. The traffic had other ideas, mind.

Eventually, I arrived and discovered the PA system had already been set up. To call it a PA system would be a bit like calling a cardboard box a "storage solution". It was an amplifier with a mic plugged in. These things should probably not even work, but they do and it did.

What followed was a perfectly pleasant comedy night in which various people performed and after which I chatted to some lovely Australian people, one of whom gave me their card (examples of which pictured right) which I immediately filed under "things I will need to explain to my wife if/when she sees them".

I even took the opportunity to plug the book which I was involved with, which is an act of altruism, since I don't get anything other than job satisfaction from any sales that the book generates. Still, perhaps job satisfaction is what it's all about. Of all trades, comedy is one which seems entirely based on job satisfaction, as it's the one where you get the most instant of feedbacks possible.

In an office you could slave away at something and then it may never get any feedback, or people may take a while to process it and then tell you something. There's a real delay between effort and reward. In stand-up it's instantaneous. You can watch the audience reacting as you set a joke up, and then you find out at the punchline whether it was all worth it or not. This is why comedy is great and also why trying out new material is so nerve racking.

Owing to experience, both mine and the other acts', I was put on last at the gig. I had a choice - I could play it safe and go for laughs, or I could do some stuff to establish I knew what I was doing, and then go for the new material. I chose to top and tail the set with tried and tested and then stick the experimental stuff in in the middle. This is a sensible formula.

I can tell you now, it pays to rehearse. Well, it would have. I found an immediate sense of surprise at the material I was trying - I had no idea where to push it and what to expect. On the up-side, though, even in this poorly thought out form, some stuff worked and I feel I've got some key feedback to help develop the material. On the downside, when? I'm awfully embroiled in stuff at the moment. See the next post.

Anyway, it was a fun night, and I saw some great comedy before I took to the stage. Instant satisfaction. That's comedy.


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