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Archive for July, 2014

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The last of the previews

And there we have it, my previews are at an end. Next stop: Edinburgh.

Well, it will be the next stop for the show, I will personally have other stops in between over the next few days. I was due to have another preview tonight, but it ended up being cancelled. In a way, I am sort of glad, because I will just get a chance to have a rest this week and Friday’s was a good way to sign off.

For what turned out to be my final preview, I returned to the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green. It was where I did my first ever Edinburgh preview for anything in 2011 with A Mixed Bag. Why I ever thought that was a good name for a show, I will never know. At the time, it also was the longest performance I had ever done. Clocking in at 23 minutes (if I remember correctly), it felt a shock then to be doing anything longer than ten minutes. That particular night went well enough to give both Langton and me a false sense of security in our show. Reality of how tough the Fringe is came crashing down on our naive heads later.

At my preview there on Friday, I once again did my longest ever performance, of one hour and nine minutes. This time, it didn’t feel like a shock to be doing so long. If anything, it didn’t feel long enough.

The show went very well, but can still be further improved and I need to do some ruthless editing. As much as it pains me, I probably won’t have time for my bit on assassin donkeys and information on the history of the adjustable spanner. This is probably just as well, because neither of these were going down particularly well.

I am really looking forward to Edinburgh this year. I will be on my own for the first time and it will all be new and exciting again. I wonder how this optimistic entry will compare with what I write at the end of the Fringe.

I’m aware that I could be utterly delusional, but I feel I’m well prepared. I’ve tested my show in various conditions: on a canal boat, in front of three people, in a bookshop, and for a tired and sweaty audience.

I know what I’m letting myself in for and although it will be tough, I feel ready.

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A preview and a half

My weekend of previews continued with shows booked for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, I had an audience of three people. This is what happens when you have Paul Langton responsible for promoting, but he wasn’t entirely to blame and the weather should also take responsibility. If you ask people to choose between either sitting in a darkened room to watch some comedy or sitting out in the sun, the solar menace tends to win. But the joke is on them, because we had air-conditioning.

Nevertheless, an audience of three people is still an audience. I have performed to smaller audiences before and I expect I will in the future. I have said multiple times over the years, those three people are there to see a show. It’s not their fault that they are surrounded by empty chairs.

So I gave them a show.  It went as well as you could expect a show to go in front of three people, I enjoyed it and felt there was a good rhythm to my set.

For Sunday’s preview, it was off to Winchester to the exact same pub where I had something of an ordeal at a music open mic night in November 2005. Back then, I believe it was my seventh gig and I was the only one doing stand-up in a packed room that was mostly full of apathy. The first eight minutes was people talking amongst themselves, with a few people shouting rude things at me. Everyone eventually quietened down and I managed to get at least one laugh. I considered this to be a good gig back then.

Back in 2014, I was originally going to be on about 8.30pm, which would have allowed me to get on the 10.23pm train back to London, get the last tube and probably get five hours sleep before work.

But then this was bumped back to 9.45pm. As the trains only run hourly, if I had done my full hour then I wouldn’t have arrived back in London until 12.30am. Being a Sunday, the tubes would have stopped, forcing me to get a night bus home and I likely wouldn’t get any more than three hours sleep before work.

So to avoid this horror, I asked if I could only do half my show and then run to get my train. I think I ended up doing closer to 20 minutes in the end, but it was well received. I then got my train and my reward of five hours sleep.

I have two previews left before I head up to Scotland. My show is not quite there yet, but is definitely coming together.

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Humidity

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year, it was also when I had my fourth Edinburgh preview.

It was in the second half of the night I run in Walthamstow and I could feel that the audience were hot and tired within about ten minutes.

Gigging in shorts is something that doesn’t feel entirely right and I had planned to change into my jeans before my set. But due to the sweltering conditions, I opted to leave my legs exposed. I explained to the audience that if it was going badly, I would blame it on the shorts and change into my jeans. When a couple of punchlines fell flat, I changed my attire while still on stage.

They were a nice crowd, but a fair number of things in my set didn’t get a laugh where I hoped. This is particularly useful for an Edinburgh preview, because it then makes you look more closely at your material and how you can improve it. So I am grateful for the clammy conditions.

I have another preview in a couple of hours in Stockwell, then another one tomorrow in Winchester. By then end of Sunday, I should have a better idea of how much more work I need to do to improve my show.

It was also Ruby’s this week, which saw the return of Luke Thompson from his two-year Parisian exile. We managed to get the room the fullest so far in our new venue, largely because of Luke’s friends. I had intended to do a set, but Luke forgot to introduce me and called an interval instead. It worked out for the best, because we were running late anyway so this allowed us to get back on time and finish early. It was a great night with Sara Pascoe headlining and thankfully Luke didn’t do a repeat of his infamous Robert De Niro improv meltdown from Brighton in 2012.