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Friday, April 13

Gag-tus Interruptus

I'll be honest with you, and by you, I probably mean me, since I'm not sure anyone reads this anymore. I am really struggling with the writing of new material for my new show. I think the causes for this are two-fold:
  • I am way too busy
  • My new show has such a generic brief, it could be about anything, so I'm having trouble starting
That said, I'm not doing NO writing. I'm just having trouble. This is only to be expected. It's all part of the process. There are various techniques for shocking some material out of my writer's brain. One technique is simply to have a deadline. I have some deadlines. In fact, the deadlines are now stressing me out as much as the absence of inspiration. In fairness, without the deadlines, the absence of inspiration wouldn't be noticeable.

Mid-term deadlines are the worst - they're coming, but not soon enough to panic, just enough to give a general sense of disquiet.

Short-term deadlines are really important. Failure is instant with a short-term deadline.

Therefore, it is a good thing that I have some new material try-out gigs in which I'm meant to be performing the material I've written, even though in some cases I've not actually written it. How can I commit to performing something as yet unwritten, or even unthought of?

I have done some rapid feats of songwriting/material writing in my time, so sometimes urgency is exactly what I need. I have gone to a gig in the past, written three new songs while the first section was happening, quickly had a go at putting a tune to them in the interval, and then performed them (from notes) straight away.

I've similarly prepared songs while on trains, or sitting in silence before driving to the gig. None of this is a guarantee of song quality, but it's doable.

In fact, my "party trick" at Edinburgh is to write a song while waiting to go on stage. Usually this is set up via the "gag challenge" or by the act on stage bantering with the audience and then telling them that I will be coming out to do my set with a song that I'll have written specifically about them. The "gag challenge" is where you take suggestions from the audience for a famous person and a household object and then have to produce a joke combining them. I would sometimes make 3 jokes and then come up with a song too. My "hussain bolt and a wallpaper papering table" was a real doozy.

Sadly, joke challenge/audience songs are not reusable, fun though they are.

Writing under a deadline is good.

Last night I sat in my car outside the venue, going over notes of some material that I had been working on, and rewriting it. I even wrote a new song - which I bet is rubbish.

The thing is, I don't know. The gig was pulled, so I'll never know what it would have been like to perform that material in that room at that time. I didn't mind. I still got the deadline. It's frustrating too, though, since I had all the build up for the gig and then had an empty feeling of not knowing what would happen if I did those songs. Plus, though I now have some more material to work with, I haven't any feedback on it in its initial draft state.

I'm firmly of the opinion that a joke is only funny once someone has laughed at it. Though I think my hilarious answer to REM's "Everybody Hurts" -> "Everybody poos" is probably a winner, I won't know for a few more days since my next gigs are not ones where I can experiment. I really need some messing around time at home, but this hasn't been possible recently. Maybe it will come.

Gigs are going well right now, so I'm feeling funny, which is a lot of the battle. I'm also feeling quite insecure about the new material, which is the other part of the battle... Still, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.


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