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Archive for December, 2013

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Here endeth gigging for 2013

I have now finished gigging until 2014, having performed more gigs this year than any before.

I set myself a challenge of doing 150 gigs this year, which admittedly wasn’t until September when I was already behind. I imagine this is how the current UK Government sets targets for public services, knowing they won’t be hit so they can then add it to their justification for privatisation.

Well, I may have missed my target by seven (143 gigs in total), but there will certainly be no privatisation of my comedy. I probably haven’t thought this analogy through properly; because there’s no way I’d currently be able to justify charging extortionate amounts for a poorer service. I have also yet to notice Richard Branson sniffing around.

Barring an Edinburgh show that wasn’t as good as 2012’s, it has probably been my best year for gigs. Punters and fellow comics have been saying lots of nice things with a greater frequency than before and I have had some belters of gigs.

I made it past the first round in a national comedy competition for the first time, and then the next round too to progress to the semi-finals.

I also made it to the final of a comedy competition for the first time. In my opinion, Droitwich (Worcestershire) Old Cock Inn’s It’s a Knock Out is the only comedy competition that has any credibility. I value the approval of middle-aged drunk people much more than a load of air-kissing agents and chin-strokers. The final was particularly memorable for not only having a significantly smaller audience than the heat, but also the journey via Newport to collect 120 fold-up chairs and then driving a transit van back to London afterwards. This type of van journey was also a first for me.

A definite high for this year was being one of two support acts for a Edinburgh preview by Richard Herring in July, even if I didn’t do particularly well. Another highlight came this week when after four years of doing the Thursday try-out night, I was booked to do Sunday spot at one of London’s best comedy clubs, Downstairs at the King’s Head.

I am always trying to push myself to improve, or at least telling myself that I should be pushing myself to improve. So, I have set myself three challenges for next year:

1) Doing 200 gigs.
2) Write at least one new joke a day in 140 characters. Here I am referring to Twitter, not deliberately just trying to restrict myself. From 1 January 2014, look out for #Joke365.
3) Write 30 minutes of totally new material for Edinburgh. I am prohibiting myself from using existing stuff.

I expect I’ll do a standard year review thing when I’m bored at home over Christmas.

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Memorable occassions

This week, we celebrated the fourth birthday of Ruby Tuesdays. Or what used to be called Ruby Tuesdays, before we recently switched to Mondays.

We had Richard Herring headlining and a room that was nearly full of audience. It would have been full too if it hadn’t been for those pesky people who asked me to reserve seats but dropped out on the day.

Everyone who came enjoyed themselves and all the acts did very well, apart from Langton trying out a deliberately bad take on his first stand-up routine about a moustache. He abandoned this and went into his ‘topical’ material about the Royal Wedding, which still works. Damn him.

The only downside was some controversial cake I grabbed before the gig that was supernaturally dry. I mistakenly tried eating this on stage for comic effect. No-one found it particularly funny and I couldn’t actually speak afterwards due to a lack of moisture. This wasn’t the best way to introduce one of my comedy heroes, but it is too late to change this now.

It is quite an achievement to keep a comedy night going in London for a year, let alone four. The founding 16-ish members have all mostly fallen by the wayside, or actually gotten on with their real lives instead of pursuing this ridiculous vocation.

We don’t know how much longer it will continue, because it is dependent on audience numbers. If we can keep the audience numbers solid, then we will continue. If they fall, then so does the night. There are too many nights in London that have low audience numbers and I don’t want to steal their USP.

However long Ruby’s goes on for, people will remember it as being a good comedy night.

Talking of which, I performed at a gig in Depford last night to celebrate the release of a documentary on the legendary Tunnel Club. It was an anarchic club that unfortunately closed some years before I set foot on a comedy stage and was an experience that people certainly remember.

Last night, the idea was to have a few new acts doing spots before the documentary and then a few on afterwards. It was at the back of the main area of a pub and people had very little interest in actually listening to the comedy.

In situations such as this, you can’t win. But at the same time, no-one really cares and the gig isn’t there to be won, so you also can’t really lose. Part of me enjoys such extreme levels of apathy and I have performed in many similar circumstances.

I was the penultimate act and by this time most of the crowd had gone, with the people left not really caring. I was determined to do my five minutes in the face of overwhelming apathy. I can’t say it went particularly well, but I at least managed to get some sort of reaction out of the crowd and I did my time.

Although the gig was a struggle, the organisers cannot be faulted for their hospitality. They provided the acts with the best gig rider I have ever seen. A truly mediaeval banquet for what was a medieval battle.