On Friday night, I drove 100 miles down to Swansea to actually perform a comedy gig. It was fraught with delays, taking an hour longer than it should have done. And a further reminder of just how much I hate driving to gigs.
But still, I had plenty of time. And I’m pleased to report that there was no repeat of that horrific five-hour drive to Newcastle that should have taken just under three. For one thing, it would have taken me to completely the wrong place. More on this later.
I was in town to perform at Swansea Fringe, having previously performed there just over two years ago. Before the dark times, before Covid.
I was in a different venue this year and arrived to find the stage area right next to the front door, which isn’t ideal. But with fringes, venues can be a bit like that. The room was long with a bar on one side and the room becoming a corridor further at the back. The sound system was a considerable upgrade from my previous show in September, which certainly helps when performing in a room not designed for comedy.
The show itself went well. Despite not having had a gig since 9 September, performing felt good. People laughed when they were supposed to. And some newer ideas and jokes I have added to the show relatively recently now look like they’re here to stay.
Bizarrely for a Friday night in Swansea, the majority of the disruption came from the two front-of-house volunteers sitting on the desk by the door, regularly chatting to each other and oblivious to my references to it. Fortunately, they didn’t stay for the entire show. And if anything, it brought the audience together more. Regardless, it was a decent show and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves.
Now, back to the subject of going to the wrong place, there was the drive home the next day. Compared with the drive down, there were hardly any delays. But what stopped me from getting home earlier was a stupid and inexplicable detour from Google Maps. For some reason, Stroud has about four or five different sets of temporary traffic lights at the moment. So when Google suggested taking another route, I thought that made sense. Only this route ended up taking me off the motorway two exits past my normal junction, which is where I used to get on the motorway to go north. So it sort of made sense. But then when I was nearing the middle of Cheltenham town centre and it said I was about a mile away from where I needed to be, I finally twigged that something was up and stopped the car.
Despite setting Google Maps to take me to my home address, it was instead trying to take me to Cheltenham Racecourse. This is somewhere I have never been, have no interest in going, and have never even looked at on Google Maps. So why this happened is a mystery. I can only assume that Google had detected that I was doing a comedy gig and wanted to keep the tradition of frustrating gig driving alive.