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Archive for June, 2016


We meet again, Mr gong

King Gong at the Comedy Store is known for being pretty brutal. The last time I did it in London, I was gonged off after 20 seconds before I could even get to my first punchline.

I’d put off doing it in Manchester for long enough, so finally took the plunge last night and was bracing myself for another ordeal. But it was a much more pleasant experience than my previous three attempts in London. For a start, the venue is about half the size and doesn’t feel as intimidating.

The crowd were mostly pretty nice. I can only assume that the usual ruffians you’d expect at these gigs were attending the Coldplay concert at the City of Manchester Stadium. In fact, the most hostile person in the audience was Shane from Boyzone. He was there watching one of his friends taking part, and took exception when another act pointed him out. He got quite aggressive, shouty and sweary. You wouldn’t expect this sort of behaviour from Ronan Keating.

I was on early in the second half, which I thought was a bad as you generally stand a better chance of lasting the distance if you go on earlier.

I started off well, but after about a minute I was heckled by someone who wasn’t Shane from Boyzone. The heckler was correcting my geography. I say my home town of Stroud is near Bristol, but someone shouted out that it’s actually nearer Gloucester. This is of course true, but I’m going with the assumption that more people know where Bristol is than Gloucester. The interaction got a big laugh and I went back to her later in the set, which got another good laugh. Later on, I was heckled by someone else and I said the geography heckler was still my favourite.

So then I thought I’d see what Shane from Boyzone had to throw at me. Just as he started shouting and swearing at me, the music played to say I’d gone the distance.

For the first time ever at a Comedy Store gong show, I lasted the full five minutes. Unlike my last gong show at the Frog and Bucket last month where I scraped through unjustifiably, none of the three card-holding audience members had one aloft. I think the key difference was that I was having fun last night, and wasn’t on the other occasion. I did well, but can do better.

At the end, the four of us who’d made the cut had to perform an extra minute. I did okay, but not as well as two of the others and knew even before then that I wasn’t going to win the audience vote. It didn’t matter; just lasting that elusive five minutes was enough for me.

But in hindsight, I really should have sung a Boyzone song in that extra minute. Still, I’ll be prepared for next time.


On the road

Since  I last  wrote,  I have  been on  a  road  trip  up  to  Scotland  and  north-east  England.  I had  three  gigs booked for Edinburgh, Glasgow  and  Newcastle  and thought  I’d  make  a  semi-holiday  out  of  it  as  I now have a car and it would break the drive up a bit.

As the Lake  District was en route, i  made sense  to  spend  a  couple  of nights  there.  For all  the locations I  was  going  to, a  quaint  little  town  in  a  car park  near  the Beatrix  Potter  museum  wasn’t where  I  was  expecting  to  have  anything  stolen from  my  car.

When  I returned to  it  in the  morning, I discovered that someone had stolen the glass from one of my wing-mirrors. I never had  problems  with  anyone  wanting  to  take  anything  from  my 16  year  old, battered Nissan Micra.  It  was  annoying,  but  could have  been worse.  I got  a  cheap replacement  as  a temporary repair, which I’ll probably have for the next five years.

If only  I  could  use  some  Ant-Man  technology  to  make  my  car tiny  to  fit  on  my  key-ring,  then  it  would save a lot of hassle about parking and people stealing things. But then people would be able to run off numerous carrying cars at once, so it wouldn’t be without its problems.

I also  ate  some  really  nice  meals,  which  I  didn’t  feel the need  to  take  pictures of  and  post  online. The exception to this was a  vegetable and  stilton  crumble  that had  a  layer of  water  in  the  middle. Consequently, there  were  repercussions that  I also  didn’t  feel  the need  to  take pictures  of and  post online.  This  was  the same  day  that  my  wing-mirror was stolen, so  it  wasn’t  one  of  my  favourite  days ever.

The  gigs were  with  the  Stand  venues  and  I’d  wanted to  do  all  three  in a  week  for  a  long  time,  but geography and holiday amounts set aside for the Fringe never allowed this.

Edinburgh  was first.  When  I last  did  it  in  2014, it  was  the  stuff  of comedy  dreams.  This time,  it  was decent,  but  not  as  good  as  when I last did  it. On  the plus side,  I  was  staying  in someone’s  house  and not in a cheap hostel with nine very loud Brazilian men.

The  Glasgow  gig  was  the best  of the  trilogy.  The  crowd  were  amazing  and although  a  couple  of  my line  lines  sank  without  a  trace, this  was  made  up for by  bigger  laughs for  other  stuff  and  crowd interaction. What  made  this  gig  even  more  of a  thrill  was  that  it  was  the  very  same  stage  where Stewart Lee filmed a couple of DVDs, including his first one with the Ang Lee routine.

As with  most  trilogies, the  third  never  quite  tops  the second  and  the  Newcastle  gig  was  the  hardest work.  The  crowd were  great  for  the  first  section, but  by  the  time  I got  on  stage following  what  can only  be  described as an art  experiment  that  went  wrong, I could  tell  they’d  had  enough  and  were dire  in  need  of an interval.  By  this  point,  the  energy  in  the room  was  pretty  flat.  Even so, I  still managed to  get  them  some  decent  laughs  out  of them  and  people  came  up  to  me  said  some  nice things to  me  afterwards,  but  I would  have  preferred  performing  in easier circumstances. Never mind, I will return and do better.

In  other news,  I’ve  finally  figured out  a way  I can  write  on  my  laptop  and transfer  it to  my  phone  for upload. I am  still  without  an  internet  connection  in my  flat  as I don’t  want to  pay  £20  a  month for something  I’m  only  going  to  use  on  the few  evenings  and  weekends  when I’m  actually  around. So this should  mean I’ll  be  able  to  write  more  regularly.