This year, I am prioritising getting new material honed over paid gigs. It’s just as well, because otherwise driving a 175-mile round trip to Birmingham on Friday night for what turned out to be a reduced set of five minutes at a spoken word night might seem like a complete waste of time.

The other side of this is that I’m getting offered barely any paid gigs, but I’m also not actively sending requests for them. After eight years of plugging away, a logical person might consider this to be a pretty shocking failure.

When things aren’t going well, it’s all too easy to blame other factors such as the audience, the way the gig is run, not getting enough sleep, or needing a poo before the gig and there being no soap or toilet roll. But after a while, these just become justifications for your own failures. Either you get bitter, or you can keep trying to get better. It’s just one vowel’s difference and cheesy as hell, but I do love cheese.

Also, I’ve done two official sold-out runs at Edinburgh Fringe. So shut up, logical person. Admittedly, this does put me among pretty exclusive company among the circuit stragglers.

On the flip side of this, the new stuff has been going really well for the most part. I’ve suddenly got a lot more stuff that is getting to the level of where it needs to be. This has been achieved by writing, trying it out, writing some more, trying it out again slightly differently, then more writing and more gigging. There’s no secret to it other than hard work and that’s the key thing. I have been far too lazy in the past few years. I’ve not been booking up enough gigs or writing and performing enough.

The other thing behind this is that I am writing and testing stuff for my new hour show. It definitely helps to have a focus and a target to aim for. In August, I will be returning to the Kilderkin for Stop the Press, I Want to Get Off.

When you’re planning a show, it’s useful to have an idea of the venue in mind and there are few rooms I know better than the Kilderkin. In fact, I am fairly sure it’s where I have performed the most number of times. A quick calculation suggests that this is around 80 times from four runs at the Fringe, with only Walthamstow’s Ye Old Rose and Crown coming anywhere close to that and those were monthly gigs over six years. This isn’t something I’d ever thought of until now.

I’ve done two previews so far. At both, what I thought would be an hour turned out to be just over 40 minutes. This was fine at the second as it didn’t matter if I ran under. However, at the first one, I was part of the world record attempt for the longest running comedy gig and had to make sure that I at least did an hour. Fortunately, I had my notebook and was able to pick out bits of material to ensure I went the distance. My comedy accomplishments are now: two sold-out Edinburgh Fringe runs, a world record, and a white sock from all those dodgy nights in Tooting.

My new show still needs a fair amount of work, but I like the direction I’m going with it. I’ve got another preview on Thursday, but definitely need to book up several more.

Oh, and I’ll also be doing How To Win A Pub Quiz for the full-run at Stand 2 in August. I just couldn’t leave it alone.

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