A hundred chairs, hundreds of miles, Brighton Fringe and very little sleep

Comedy can open many doors and lead you to doing something you never imagined ever doing. This happened this past weekend, when after Saturday night’s gig in Droitwich, Worcestershire, I had to drive a transit van with 106 folding chairs 145 miles back to London.

I’ll admit, this wasn’t something I had on my comedy to-do list and never imagined I would be doing this.

It wasn’t just for kicks, there was a reason.

I was getting a lift up to the Droitwich with Nigel and had agreed to drive the car back (fully insured, don’t you worry) to save him a job and enable him to have a few more pints. Only, a few days before the gig, I had a call from Nigel asking if I would mind going from London to Droitwich via Newport in a transit van so he could collect some chairs for a gig he’s running.

I hadn’t driven a transit van in about seven years, when I was temping in a car auction shortly after I graduated. But I accepted, as even with this major detour, it was still probably going to be easier to get there and back than it would be taking the train.

It was the first time I had reached the final of any new act competition. It could be argued that with myriad comedy competitions out there, this competition in a small market town in Worcestershire is just as valid as any of them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is the best comedy new act comedy and the only one that means anything to me. But I might be slightly biased.

With most competitions, the heats tend to be quieter and the final is busy. Things were a little different in this particular final, as there were 12 people there as audience; my heat was attended by around 30 people.

But I enjoyed myself. I had fun talking with the more senior ladies in the audience near the stage area. I didn’t win, and I didn’t think I would, but I am finalist in a comedy competition. And that is all that matters in terms of Edinburgh promotional material.

On the drive home, the van took a bit of getting used to. But it all went fine, it just took a very long time. I didn’t go to bed until after 4am.

The next day, it was off to Brighton to perform our show down there. We were originally meant to be doing Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but Moz dropped out and I made it into the final of the highest profile comedy competition in Droitwich.

So it was just me and Langton there this year, only doing two nights. As we haven’t had the time to worry about photos and as it was just us two, we decided to give our Dirty Laundry show one last outing.

We were performing in The Temple again. It was the same place where five of us did a show three years ago, and where we returned to last year when Luke had an improv meltdown in front of Chortle’s Steve Bennett.

We had about 40 people on the Sunday night, which was the largest crowd we’ve had in that room since we were fresh-faced newbies three years ago and flyered relentlessly for three or four hours.

The room was very hot, which isn’t a good comedy environment. And the layout was really weird, with audience all crammed on either sides of the room and a massive chasm in front of the stage. As the shows before us had both overran, we had no time to sort it out so had to make do with it.

It wasn’t a bad gig, but I wasn’t on great form. Tiredness had caught up with me from the previous night and my delivery felt quite sluggish. I managed to pick things up in the second half of my set and got some good laughs, but there was definitely room for improvement

We were staying in a different hostel this year, which Langton will tell you was about an hour’s walk from the venue, but he is wrong and lazy. My need for sleep wasn’t helped by the loud Greek girls we were sharing a room with waking us up at 4am and then again at 7am when they had to pack up their stuff to leave.

Our show was at 9.45pm this year, which felt just a bit too late for us at Brighton Fringe. We have previously gone on a few hours earlier and spent the evening drinking and talking nonsense. I think this works better for the Brighton Fringe, but perhaps not for our livers.

As our second show was on a bank holiday Monday, we were expecting a quiet gig and we were right. Paul really didn’t enjoy the second show. He doesn’t function well in front of small audiences, whereas I seem to love them.

We had 11 people in, with two walking out after I had spoken to them about being asleep on the sofa at the back of the room. I riffed on this after they left and it united the rest of the audience, with bigger laughs coming afterwards.

More sleep deprivation was acquired afterwards, as we had to get the train back to London and I didn’t go to bed until 2.30am.

So, it was a ridiculous weekend. But ridiculous is where I live and belong. It may have also been the final outing of ‘Love and Langton’, we are not performing a show in Edinburgh together this year and I don’t know what the future will hold. If it was our final bow as show partners, performing in front of a handful of people and me enjoying it much more than Paul is exactly how it should be.

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