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Archive for January, 2014

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Gong wrong

Last year, I romanticised the King Gong at the Comedy Store as a tale of almost-redemption for my failures seven years previously. Well, I can now console my 21-year-old self with the fact that his record of 46 seconds wasn’t as bad as he thought.

In fact, it was more than double what the audience permitted me this week. Last year, my opening joke got a round of applause. This year, with the same joke, they wouldn’t even let me get to the punchline.

In just seven days, I went from performing at one of the UK’s biggest comedy clubs and receiving much praise, to briefly performing at the UK’s biggest comedy club and failing spectacularly.

But that is the true nature of King Gong. If you put yourself forward for it, you have no right to complain about what awaits you.

I have been going long enough for these things to not get to me, and I actually find it very funny. If you can embrace your failures and laugh at them, then you’ll last much longer in comedy.

I left shortly after my very brief set, as I was offered the solace of a shambolic open mic gig. where there was almost a bar brawl between a magician and some alleged squatters.

But I gather that the gong crowd were particularly brutal this time, with only one act out 33 beating the gong and many failing to reach even 20 seconds. I will return and try again. Admitting defeat would be too easy.

And on the plus-side, I can say that I have done a 20 at The Comedy Store. I just don’t have to mention that it was for 20 seconds.

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Outside the Fringe

It would be wrong for me to perform in Edinburgh and feel anything but exhausted. Thankfully, I was able to ensure this through booking myself into a ten bed dorm in an £8.50-a-night hostel.

It turns out that my room-mates were nine Brazilian lads, who were very loud after a few drinks but genuinely nice people nonetheless. On my first night, I can have only got about four hours sleep at the very most.

It felt odd to be in Edinburgh outside of the Fringe, with so many of the signs and banners I use for navigation not being there. I also saw shops on streets I’d walked past many times, but never noticed before despite them having been there for 40 years.

In my two days up there, I met up with some friends and also returned to Musselburgh to see my gran’s cousin. I stayed at her house during my first Fringe in 2010.

I have vivid memories of my first night there, getting in at around 2am after my Edinburgh debut gig. The rain had left me completely drenched, with my non-umbrella-holding arm taking the brunt of it and my cheap coat putting up no resistance. I sat on the small mattress in the study where I was sleeping, feeling a great sense of achievement after having inconsistently MC’d a showcase. Little did I know what horrendous Edinburgh deaths awaited me.

This time, I was up there to tick something off my to-do list by gigging at The Stand. It is where most of my favourite comedians perform their Edinburgh shows, so it was quite a thrill to be on that stage. The venue was full, with around 100 people and I was very pleased with how my set was received. The laughs were big and many people came up to me afterwards and said some very nice things.

For performers, it’s £2.50 a pint. So I took full advantage of this and was able to sleep much better that night.

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A new year and new challenges

They say you shouldn’t wish away your days, although I doubt ‘they’ were trying to accomplish two of the challenges I’ve set myself this year.

One is to write a new joke every day and put it on Twitter. Each joke I write is then Googled and if there is anything too similar that anyone else has said, my joke is then scrapped and I have to write another. Eighteen days into this challenge, I have succeeded albeit with varying quality. But it is certainly a chore I am partially regretting at the moment, so I am counting down the days of the year already.

The second of challenge that involves me counting down numbers is to do 200 gigs this year. It has been a slow start to 2014 and I didn’t have my first gig until the 13 January, but did manage three gigs this week. Either way, I need to get organised.

Tomorrow, I am off to Edinburgh for a couple of nights. I have a gig booked at The Stand, which is a venue that has been on my to-do list for some time. I have seen many amazing shows there during various Fringes, but they only book the new act night outside August.

I should add that I am not just going up there to do one gig – that would be slightly excessive even by my standards of travelling ridiculous distances for stage-time. I will also be carrying out some venue scouting and meeting up with friends and relatives that I never normally have the time to see during the Fringe.

I should probably write a paragraph here that sums up my optimism and hopes for 2014. I am looking forward to what 2014 has in store. This will suffice.