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Archive for September, 2012

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Competition anaphylaxis

Last night I had a gig that was a heat in a competition.

Now, as regular readers will know, I have an appalling track-record in competitions and go into comedic anaphylactic shock whenever any sort of competitive element is present.

I enter, don’t get through and tell myself I’m not going to enter any competitions again. Then I see another competition is taking entries and as I’ve been on a decent run of gigs, I think ‘I should give this another go’. So I enter again and don’t get through and the cycle repeats itself.

But I have learnt to control my adverse reaction a bit better and don’t recoil so much these days. The last time I performed in a competitive environment resulted in me having a very good gig, booked by a promoter in the audience and bought a pint. However, I still didn’t win on this particular night.

Anyway, back to last night, and I don’t want to spoil the ending, but feel I might have done already. Minutes before the gig was due to start, there were only two people in the audience and the show was set to be cancelled, with comics progressing to the next round via the medium of being drawn from a hat.

However, just as it was about to be knocked on the head, two more audience members arrived and the show was saved.

It was actually a fun gig and my set went okay-ish, but I am still feeling off the pace. I’m now going to shock you… I didn’t get through. I might have stood a better chance if the names had been drawn from a hat.

But never mind. I really should know better than to enter such things by now and won’t in future… until the next time.

During my journey home, I had a flurry of ideas to turn my repeated failures into material. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it might just have shifted my post-Edinburgh writer’s block.

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Rust subsiding

This week, I had two more gigs on consecutive nights as I attempt to rebuild my energy levels from Fringe-lag. And after last week’s first two disappointing Fringe gigs, the latest additions were big improvements.

The first one was Ruby Tuesdays, the monthly night I am involved in. With Langton uncharacteristically in employment and away on training, it was down to me to run the show. I had not set the room up before for a Ruby on my own and didn’t know exactly what I was doing. We normally have a large logo as the backdrop, but I couldn’t attach it properly so had to improvise, as you can see from this poor quality picture on the right.

As you can see, we also had no spotlight, so had to make do with a lamp vaguely lighting the stage area with added candles, so it resembled a séance. Thankfully none of the acts died, but I’m sure it would have been possibly to communicate with a few spirits from past deaths at the venue, including a few of mine.

From the original gang of about 15 who originally set the night up three years ago, there were just two left at this month’s show; and for one of us, it the final gig there for quite some time. I’m not referring to myself here, unless I did something to really annoy the management. No, I am talking about my co-comedy conspirator and Brighton show collaborator, Mr Luke ‘Luke Johnson’ Thompson. I mentioned a few months ago that he would be moving to Paris in September and those plans are now at an advanced stage. He was on MC duties and after the bumpy improv meltdown that occurred in Brighton the day we were reviewed, he was on top form and bowed on a high. I will miss him.

We were really lucky with our audience and had about 20 very friendly and receptive folk in. My set went well and I felt much better on stage than I did last week. I slipped in a new lines for a while and some of them got good laughs, one of them didn’t.

The next night, I had another gig and decided to roll out a few more new lines. They mostly did quite well there too in front of an audience of ten comics and two real people. It was a friendly gig and just what I needed in my comedy rehab programme.

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Still rusty

My stumbling post-Edinburgh comeback trail continued on Thursday with one of the more prestigious gigs on the London new act circuit that I had hoped to do well at.

All the ingredients for a good gig were there. It’s a great venue and almost full, the audience were receptive and the MC was good. Unfortunately, I didn’t deliver my part of the deal and I produced a very disappointing set.

I was performing almost exactly the same material as I had done when I was last at the same venue three months ago and after my opening two jokes went down very well, the middle of my set sagged spectacularly and the audience just didn’t go for it. Admittedly, I cocked up some of it, but I don’t think it made a lot of difference. There were isolated titters, but nothing that really registered particularly highly on the laughter scale. I finished on a fairly big laugh, but I can’t rate my set any higher than 4/10; and that’s probably being generous.

When my supposedly tried-and-tested material fails, I start questioning anything and everything about my comedy. Is it actually funny? What can I change so that it gets a better response? Should I shave off my beard and get at least two guaranteed laughs from a joke about my appearance?

So, the disappointments, while not pleasant, are necessary and do give me a slap as motivation to improve. And for the record, my beard is not coming off any time soon. I would update that picture on the right, but I don’t actually know how to. So do feel free to draw your own beard on it.

I have another couple of gigs next week, so will be able to continue my Fringe rehabilitation.

In irrelevant news, on Thursday morning before work, I was trying to clear some memory on my phone by deleting the old messages. When this process is stopped, it causes my phone to freeze and sometimes I need to take the battery out to get it working again. So I took the battery out, then put it back in and tried turning my phone on, but nothing happened.

So I opened the back of it and saw that the battery was missing, despite it being put back in a matter of seconds ago. I retraced my steps and could see no sign of the battery. As I was in danger of missing my train, I decided to cut my losses and go to work phoneless. Due to the delay, my train to Liverpool Street had already gone. I decided to go back to my house and see if my lost battery was there, on the walk I looked to see if it was anywhere on the pavement. Again, it was in nowhere to be found.

Leaving the house for the second time, I resigned myself to the fact that I would need a new phone after nearly four years. But then, in one final attempt to find the battery, I saw the hologram-label thing glowing in the sunlight under a fence. My phone survives again.

Now, I can only offer two explanations to this mystery. The first one is that the battery fell out when I was putting the cover on the back on. The second explanation is that when I was putting the battery back in, time froze for a split second and a time-traveller took the battery out of the back to stop me going on the train and prevent a series of events that would lead to serious ramifications in some way. When the danger had passed, the time traveller placed the battery in a place I would see it. Or the battery could have just fallen out when I was putting the cover back on.

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Back in the game

After a two-and-a-half week break, I returned to the stage last night for the first time since completing my Edinburgh run.

It was a bit of a rush and felt a lot like getting back on a moving treadmill and trying to maintain the pace. I stumbled a bit, but just about managed to last the distance. Just about.

It was the opening night at a new venue in Barnet and there were about 30 people in for audience, but for 29 it was their first ever comedy night. I often find that new audiences to comedy are initially slightly scared by their new experience and don’t know how to behave, so the first couple of acts generally don’t do so well while the crowd are getting used to the new sensation.

I was on second and the audience didn’t warm to the opening act, so I a struggle on my hands. I began fairly strongly and managed to get pockets of laughter for the rest of my set, but a few bits fell totally flat.

I wouldn’t call it a resounding success, but it was a gig and I am back in the comedy game nonetheless. It was also weird going back to doing five minutes again after three weeks of doing 20+; but in such circumstances and with my ‘ring rust’ apparent, five minutes was fine by me.

In other news, since I was away in Scotland, the cafe where I had been getting my lunch from near work if I’m gigging has closed down. My £3.75 every couple of days or so must have been keeping the business afloat. It is very sad as there are very few places nearby I can get a good lunch as I am reluctant to break the £5 barrier.

In other gigging news, the next one on my comeback trail is tomorrow.