Your browser (Internet Explorer 6) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.
X

Archive for September, 2013

Post

Paranoia

I am always a bit sceptical when I receive emails offering me gigs through my website when I have not previously had any contact with the promoter.

The level I am at, I get most of my gigs through either emailing promoters to ask for them, or I am offered spots by people I know.

Earlier this year, I received an email from the University of Hull’s Amnesty International Society asking if I would like to be one of the comedy acts on a bill with bands at their annual ball. Performing comedy on the same bill as bands is never a pleasant experience, but it is certainly far more pleasant than what the people have gone through who Amnesty help. I was up for it, as I do like to put myself through such adventures, but unfortunately it clashed with something else I was doing.

When I get an email from someone I’ve not previously contacted, I am always a bit paranoid that it could be some sort of elaborate trap. But why anyone would go to all that effort to kidnap me, I am not entirely sure. I am not a criminal psychologist.

I received an email a few months back offering me a gig in Peterborough that I was previously unaware of. I agreed to it and it took place this past Friday.

I am aware that the fact I am writing this is a spoiler that I probably wasn’t walking into a kidnapping scenario. Nevertheless, when I was waiting for a lift at the train station, the thought of being bundled into the back of a van was still in the back of my mind.

It turned out to be a real gig and a great one too, with a very friendly and receptive 70 people in. Perhaps that man is also legit who keeps emailing me offers about a particular brand of sports shoes named after a famous American basketball player.

Post

Selective ignorance

Here’s a philosophical question:  if there are no audience and the gig still goes ahead, is it a gig?

The rational answer would be ‘no’. However, if I lived my life thinking rationally, I wouldn’t be doing stand-up comedy.

I was faced with such a scenario last week. There were about seven comics, in a small and dingy room that looked like one of the places you see on TV where reformed young offenders would share their stories with groups of teenagers to make them think about turning away from crime.

This analogy would have rang a little too true had any of us been a reformed comedians, telling our stories to others to make them think about what they’re doing with their lives. I would have ignored them regardless.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t much fun. Fortunately, towards the end of whatever it was, a man who said he was homeless poked his head around the corner of the door and thus became our one audience member. His one small action transformed what had become a  support group into a gig and all was saved.

Nope, rationality, I am not going to listen to you.

My next gig was one that I run in Walthamstow, which was back after taking August off. We normally do pretty well in our small and weird little room and we managed to get it at pretty much capacity of all 20 chairs, in what was a friendly little gig.

On the subject of gigs that I run, I can confirm that Ruby Tuesdays is no more. We are moving to Mondays in October, so will be known as Ruby Comedy Mondays. I am currently in the booking process and will reveal exciting news about headliners in due course.

See, it is possible to write a blog without mentioning Edinburgh. I am in Fringe remission.

Post

Back in action

After a full-run at Edinburgh Fringe, you probably need at least a week of doing as little as possible to recover due to how much energy the experience takes out of you.

I say ‘probably’ because I’ve never actually managed to have any time out after the Fringe as I’ve always needed to go straight back to work to try and repair my bank balance. This was the case again this year, when I arrived back in London on the Tuesday and was back at work on the Wednesday.

I had my first post-Fringe gig this past Thursday (if you’re struggling to work out the actual timeframe, this is the Thursday in the week that followed my return) and my energy levels still felt pretty flat as I’d not had a chance to properly recover.

It was an unexpectedly odd night. It was at a renowned gig in Crouch End (I try and avoid name-dropping where possible, but it is probably obvious where this is if you’re in the know), where you can expect an audience that is usually pretty friendly, middle-class and well-read. But three prominent pockets of audience on this particular night were almost the complete polar opposite of this. They weren’t nasty, just a bit mad and drunk. At one point, one woman who claimed to be a doctor offered to slap the MC with a flip-flop. She was at least nice enough to offer, but was prepared to see it through if it was accepted (it wasn’t). In another of the audience pockets, a woman said her job was selling fetish underwear.

Later on, the three pockets of audience all interacted with one another across the room when an act was on stage. There was a dispute about the type of tea the flip-flop lady was drinking, who then upped her threat ante and offered to hit another audience member with her tea cup. The fetish underwear woman then stood up and interrupted, to question if the flip-flop lady was really a doctor. I think her medical credentials are unlikely, because she later changed her profession to bin-man.

This would normally be the type of audience I would love to play around with. I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with similar audiences in the past and often revel in the weird. But this is a particular gig where you don’t want to deviate too far from your material and you only have a tight five-minutes, which makes playing around with an audience more difficult.

I didn’t do too badly; I managed to get some decent laughs and played around a bit, but felt I never really got out of second gear. Despite this, I had some really nice feedback from other acts and the promoter, which is of particular high value.

On Friday, I was doing another gig. This one was a one-off charity night in a venue that is opposite the Wimbledon tennis courts (the main ones). There were about 150 people in and it was quite a middle-class audience. I was initially planning to do less smutty material, but after the first few acts I realised that smut was exactly what they wanted. So I gave them some of my Dirty Laundry vintage. I got some good-sized laughs and had a decent gig, but still felt the lack of all cylinders being fired upon.

Nevertheless, when you have a decent gig and people say nice things when you’re not at the top of your game, it is never a bad thing.

I have now had a weekend of doing very little, other than recuperating. My energy levels should start to increase shortly.