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Archive for March, 2012

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The neverending lurgy

I have had two gigs this week, I would have had three but my throat has been giving me grief. Trying to get over the lurgy through not taking any time out is not the best idea.

My first gig of the week was Ruby Tuesdays and we had the best attendance for it in a while, which was nice to see. It was a fun night too, there were a few faces I’d not seen around on the circuit before. I insisted that Langton put me on first, as I was happy to take the hit for the newer acts and I wasn’t sure if my throat would last. My set went down pretty well, but I needed a throat lozenge to get me through it.

Thursday night’s gig took a detour away from comedy and I went to see The Shins. I’d not seen them live in six years, when the world was a very different place. Their first two albums were very much a soundtrack to the last year or two of university, so a lot of memories I thought alcohol had eroded came flooding back.

Then Friday, I was back on the comedy horse for my local open mic gig in Walthamstow. I used to help run it, but due to other commitments, I’d not been there in about eight or nine months. It’s normally in the theatre bar upstairs, but this time it was in a smaller room off the main pub and we had an audience of about seven or eight, including a heckler. One thing that is of note about this gig is that it is only the third gig I have ever done where I haven’t had anything written on my hand. It is a ritual I have to do before I perform and very rarely actually look at it. But I had no idea if I was actually going on, so hadn’t prepared my set.  But it all went fine and I enjoyed myself. I took on the heckler and as a symbol of my victory, he bought me a drink at the interval.

I think the new five minutes I’ve been honing for the past six weeks is now safely in the bag for Edinburgh. However, I now have even less idea as to what’s going on for the Fringe, but I’m not giving up on this yet. Even so, it’s thrown my writing routine out of sync. When I thought I was definitely doing it at the start of the year, I was writing like a trooper; but now there’s a high amount of uncertainty thrown into the mix, I’ve taken my foot off the writing pedal. The trooper was driving, obviously.

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Pushing through the lurgy barrier

Thursday night saw me return to the stage for the first time in two weeks. I was on MC duties at the new night I was running in Stoke Newington.

Promoting a night is a tiring business, but if you are running a gig then it is your duty to do it properly for the good of the acts, the audience and, above all else, for live comedy.

But from the 400 flyers I distributed, just two people came. Although I am very grateful for these two people attending, especially as one of them mentioned that they had been reading my blog. Hello if you are reading this.

A few more people came along because they’d seen the night listed on a website or two and when the show was due to begin, we had six people. Due to the size of the room, I was holding out for at least ten to make it slightly less awkward, so I delayed the start. Then I was in luck when four girls walked in. I asked if they were coming for the comedy night and they said they were, so I told them that we would be starting in ten minutes. They went towards the bar to get a drink, but then walked out of the door and didn’t return.

Thankfully another three people walked in the venue shortly afterwards, so I thought I would crack on. I didn’t feel too great before I went on, as my system was still full of the lurgy, but once the adrenaline of being on stage kicked in I felt much better. Although my throat was starting to hurt quite a lot as the night progressed.

It was a pretty fun night. We ended up with about 15 people in for audience, who were friendly and receptive. But delaying the start of the gig caused the energy to dip slightly towards the end, nevertheless, it wasn’t bad by any means. I have nothing booked yet at the venue for another show, but hope to run something there before too long. Although with Edinburgh nearing, I have shows to plan and write.

That said, I’m still not completely sure I will be taking a show to this year’s Fringe.  I think I was a bit too eager with my talk of a revolution. I don’t have the venue I thought I did for the time slots I thought I did. So, doing a show entitled Dirty Laundry might not be best suited to the 3pm time-slot. I will continue trying to find something, though. I am even considering hiring a van and driving it around the city to use as a mobile gig venue. Check back here for more updates on this, because there will be plenty.

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The latest developments

The more observant among the four unique users who have visited this site in the past week will know that I’ve not written about anything in a while, this is because I have not done any gigs in the past week or two.

I did have some booked in, but had to pull out due to suffering my third bout of the flu in as many months. The failings in my immune system can be partly attributed to going out and gigging too many nights a week after working a full day, then not getting enough sleep. But I’m more inclined to blaming the disease ridden tube that I have to use in rush hour every day, as then I can justify my extra curricular activities.

In comedy news, there have been some gargantuan developments as far as Edinburgh is concerned. A week ago, an email was sent basically offering the venues and time-slots no-one wanted. A feeding frenzy ensued with all the comics going for the limited number of spots; and having read the email about an hour and a half after everyone else, I knew my chances of securing a venue were slim. Then as each day went by and I had no response, I could see Edinburgh 2012 slipping away.

However, I soon discovered that other comics had also missed out on venues and were equally disappointed. So, on Friday night (I think it was), during the middle of a shower, a light-bulb switched on above my head. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a real light-bulb, that would have been very dangerous.

I had an idea: what about finding our own venue and running our shows from there, independent of everywhere else.

I didn’t quite phrase it like that in my head, but I gathered the disappointed comics together and told them of my plan. I knew the odds would be against us, as the chances of finding a venue in central-ish Edinburgh with nothing going on during the Fringe were very slim.

So I sent out a few emails to bars and had a reply. I called up the manager for a chat yesterday and it was all very positive. In short, we now have a venue in Edinburgh where we can perform not just our own shows, but in our own separate little Fringe.

The odds will be stacked against us again up there, as the venue is slightly tucked away from the rest of the Fringe. But I’m confident that with enough commitment and effort then we can make a success of it. Being the underdog suits me perfectly, I don’t know any other way.

These are exciting times, this is something new and no-one knows how it is going to pan out. But you will be able to find out how it all develops on here. Vive la révolution.

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Encouraging signs

This week I have had two gigs, performed the same new-ish set at both and they have been pretty well received.

The first one was in Hammersmith, ran by my former co-promoter MissD. It was a really good night, with a friendly and large audience. The new material went down well, what was strange was that a few older lines fell flat that I know I can usually rely on. But never mind, I was quite pleased with how my set went, which is quite rare.

My gig last night was at a venue I do every couple of weeks or so, and as I’ve said about it before, it can be a tough room to play and if something you do gets a laugh there, then it counts for something. The last time I was there, I was working through a new set and didn’t do particularly well. But this time, I did pretty well indeed. In fact, it may have been one of my best gigs there. It’s quite a sordid set, not something I generally do, but it was met with some decent laughs and an American girl saying “Eeewwwww” in the way that only an American girl can. But it goes to show that if something doesn’t work initially and you think it’s funny, keep working on it until the audience also do.

So, the good news is that based on these gigs, I probably have a solid new three minutes for Edinburgh. I just have remaining 27 minutes to write and hone in the next five months; although we haven’t even been assigned a venue yet.

Now, to disrupt the structure of this entry completely. On Monday’s gig, for the first time in many years, I saw my old friend Deech. I first met him in December 2005 at Havant Arts Centre, in what was my eighth gig (I think). Over the next few years, I’d do the odd spot for him and help out run gigs back home in Gloucestershire. The last time I saw him was back in November 2008, when I’d put comedy on hold. Quite a lot has changed in that time. I broke my ankle, quit my job, had a critically ill dad (he’s fine now), returned to comedy, moved to London, and done two Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes. I don’t really know what the point that I’m getting at, other than a lot has happened in that time and I said that 50 words ago before that unnecessary list.