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Archive for May, 2014

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The first hour

I performed my first ever hour-long show on Sunday and was expecting it to go well, because it often is the way when you do something like this for the first time. Reality catches up with you the second or third time you try it and gives you a hard slap in the face, so I have that look forward to.

It did go well but was a step into the unknown, because it was the first time I was able to try out ideas that have been in my head for a few months. I was very fortunate to have a warm crowd who were prepared to go with me on tangents that didn’t end up going anywhere.

I am cheating somewhat by calling it an hour-long show, because it is only really roughly 30 minutes of me doing stand-up and then the rest is a quiz.

I wasn’t totally sure how the quiz was going to go. The plan was, and remains, to get the audience to write their answers on A5 whiteboards. Then I’d get them to show me their answers at the end of each round and I’d mark them from the stage area. However, this particular room took a little more negotiating than I anticipated and I had to go around to the teams individually. It wasn’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but teething problems were inevitable. The advantage is that I know how my room will be in Edinburgh already and had it in mind when thinking up this method.

For a first preview, it was exactly what I needed. There’s a lot I need to work on, but there’s enough in there to make a show I’m pleased with and I have a few months to get it into shape.

 

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New ground approaching

Tomorrow, I will perform the preview of my first ever solo show.

The thought of doing a solo show fills me with both excitement and dread, which are useful for motivators for ensuring that it is in decent shape.

In previous years, I haven’t started my Edinburgh previews until June. But I am actually feeling pretty confident about my show at the moment. Most of it is all written and much has been already been tested. However, until you start performing it in full, you can never really be sure if it all flows or works as intended.

The idea of the show is to have 35-40 minutes of stand-up and then a 15-20 minute pub quiz at the end. I have been thinking how I am actually going to be able to do this, because I would not have the time to mark participants’ answer sheets. Well, I could have the time, but I don’t imagine that watching me marking scores would be the most entertaining thing in the world.

I had played with the idea of having the audience compete against a team of experts via a ‘satellite link’ that may or not be fictional. Then I thought that people would actually quite like to compete against other teams in the room and be able to properly win.

So I had another idea of splitting the audience into teams and having them write their answers on small whiteboards, then they’d show me what they’d written for answers after five questions and I mark it as I go along. They’d then rub their answers out at the end of each round so they can write answers for the next round. Again, I don’t know if this is actually going to work, but I have a good feeling that it might just. I have bought ten A5 whiteboards and a bunch of marker pens. I will have a better idea of whether this idea actually works at around 10.30pm tomorrow night.

But failures are good and healthy. They give you a kick and make you think harder about at what you’re doing and how you can improve. I have experienced two such failures in the past ten days at high profile clubs in London at a time when I was on a good run of gigs. I have said many times before that it is easy to blame doing badly on factors beyond your control, such as room layout or audiences. But ultimately, you have to learn how to handle these situations to avoid the same thing happening again. It is better to die on your arse and learn from it, rather than coast along in a bubble of mediocrity.