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Doing a gig

I had an actual gig on Thursday night. I was in Ashton Keynes, which was another area that my local paper used to cover. But it was my first time there as it wasn’t a patch I covered, or even remember much about. Still, it’s a nice place.

The gig was run by the blokes from Barking Road, who ran that gig I did in Cirencester in August. They know how to run a good night and fill the rooms with a good audience.

I was opening the show and did pretty well. The room had about 40 people in and they were up for it. Most of my punchlines got a decent response, with a couple of newer ones almost expectedly falling flat. But I think for a free night, that sets the tone nicely. I.e. there’s going to be some good stuff tonight, but not all of it is going to work. And you haven’t paid to be here, so just be grateful. Admittedly, this might not be the best calling card.

The thing with not gigging much is that it becomes really difficult to hone new material. And I find I often forget what I’ve written and want to try out. For example, none of the new material I tried on Thursday was about Smallville, which I was attempting to write jokes about last week. The stuff I have written about that is not ready for public consumption and may never be. But doing more gigs would certainly help the chances of a public airing.

You typically need to try a line out a few times on a few different audiences before you know it works. Sometimes it works instantly and you don’t need to do anything to it, but these occasions are rare. The majority of comedians’ material is the result of hard graft and trial and error over several gigs.

On a technical note, but I’ve got a new microphone technique where I hold the stand and not the mic. I obviously still talk into the mic.

I was always told to take the mic out of the stand and that keeping the mic stand up creates a barrier between you and the audience. But it feels so much more comfortable and I’m not going back to the old ways of doing things. Unless there is no mic stand or a mic.

There is a risk with this new mic technique because stands aren’t always reliable. I remember performing in one of the afternoon shows during my first visit to Edinburgh Fringe in 2010, I was using the mic in the stand for a bit when I would play Let’s Get Ready to Rumble from my phone into the mic. It was a bit where I would stretch my resemblance to both Ant and Dec out for about three minutes longer than was really necessary.

The 2010 gig wasn’t going particularly well anyway. But when I put the mic in the stand to try and play the tune, the entire mic stand fell apart in what was a handy metaphor for the gig. It was met with pitying and bemused stares what had been an apathetic audience up to that point. So, that was at least some progress.

I now don’t have anything booked up until the new year. And with a new Covid variant about to weep across the country, I could see live comedy gigs shutting down again within the next month or so.

I hope that doesn’t happen, as people’s livelihoods depend on it. Going full-time was always one of my goals in doing comedy, but I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve managed to keep my Plan B running in parallel with comedy. In fact, Plan B has been much more successful and hasn’t involved travelling to all the far corners of the country to perform in front of rooms full of strangers in the hope that they laugh at the stupid things I have to say. So, my lack of success actually happens to be success after all.

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