It doesn't matter how long I've been doing this comedy lark, you really can't ever quite work out what a gig will be like. Last night I did that stupid thing of judging a book entirely by its cover. This can sometimes work. Such as with the Dictionary. Or a book about famous covers of books. I bet there is one of those. No I'm not going to google it. You expect me to do bloody everything with this blog don't you? Right well sod you. If you're gonna be like that, I'm going......
....yeah how'd you like that? Struggled a bit? All a bit panicky? That's right. You'll have to start pulling your weight around here or I'll do it again. Yes that weight there. The only with the handles. Get dragging. Why? I don't know. Its another one of those phrases that I can only assume ruins a lot of carpets. So back on track, like a comedy train, I drove into the venue and automatically started to worry. It was at the Port Solent marina - I generally like marinas. I like the one from Stingray. I like the one with diamonds - which is a large centre for shops and bars. The place the gig was in was an area called the Boardwalk. I can only assume all the fun was happening underneath it, as the general area looked pretty empty. I strolled into the gym, as I'd been directed to, and into a lounge that for all intents and purposes had been designed specifically never to have comedy in it ever ever. The architect must have had his parents killed by a comedian or something along those lines and he set out to design somewhere where sound would dissipate into the walls, pillars would obstruct all view points and the lay out of comfy sofas and odd lighting would ensure an audience could never feel comfortable as one. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about individuality normally, but when I'm on stage I want you all to react as though you've been assimilated by the Borg and only have one thought between you. Preferably this thought should be along the lines of 'laugh at funny man'. Sometimes its 'why is this man still talking?'
I can't blame the venue organisers as its only after gigging that you realise what works and what doesn't in a room. Their needs to be adequate sound so that the performer can be heard, but its also helpful if the performer can hear the audience so that we don't feel like we're being completely ignored and our egos crushed because we're such horribly needy types. Performers should be well lit, but audiences not. The other way round and things just get confusing and end up with a comedian watching a room of people not doing a very good show. Also instead of individual tables or spaced out chairs, everyone should be bunched up as closely together as possible. Trust me, it all makes a huge difference. From the word go, this gig didn't really start. The compere and first act did a good job, but nothing seemed to get them rolling and it felt like someone had secretly snuck in before the gig and vacuumed all of the atmosphere away. All the ticket money was going to a good cause, raising money for a sports scheme for under-privileged kids, and you couldn't help but wonder if the punters had been forced in via middle class guilt, whilst wishing they'd stayed in and watched X-Factor. They were smiling and listening but the only way to have provoked a bigger reaction from anyone would've been to individually shake each one in turn.
After the break it was announced they'd be playing 'heads and tails', a game that strikes fear into my heart during the middle of a gig. Everyone touching their own heads or arses until they get a prize for being the cleverest monkey, is not normally conducive to then sitting and watching some idiot talk about being diabetic for 20 minutes. Worryingly they reacted to 'heads and tails' better than they had to anything thus far, and I grumbled to myself knowing I'd have to go dead behind the eyes, reel out my set and just leave. Then, strangely, I had a brilliant gig. I've no idea quite why. I started with some impro'd jokes about them and the room. The charity was called 'Round Table' and I said it was nice we were helping all the unemployed medieval knights in today's current climate. From then on, it just rolled. I have no idea if it was me now knowing how to deal with these sorts of gigs, or them suddenly being ready for comedy, but I walked off after a longer set than I intended and felt pretty pleased with myself. I still grabbed my pay, jumped straight in my car and ran away but that's not the point.
So yes. This blog is essentially me harping on about my skills at battling the odds. Sorry about that, but I felt it necessary to type up as I'm still trying to figure out exactly why it ended up being nice and why I couldn't see that before. Perhaps I've just become an aging pessimist and they were lovely to begin with? Or perhaps every gig should have 'heads and tails' played in the interval? I really hope its the former. Really really hope. Either that or I'll start spreading the rumour that the game is only to be played with dismembered animal parts and hopefully it'll get banned.
Couple of other quick things for youse:
- Tomorrow I'm doing a very good gig for a very good cause with the excellent Josie Long, Graine McGuire and Chris Coltrane. Its all for the Cuts Won't Work, a group who very much oppose all the crap the government is currently proposing. I will be doing political material which is a rarity for me, mostly as I'm too stupid to do it more often. If you fancy catching that then trust me, it'll be ace. Details here:
CUTS WON'T WORK GIG - BETHNAL GREEN WORKING MEN'S CLUB - OCT 18TH
- I got stuck in horrible traffic on the North Circular last night on the way home. There is nothing more infuriating than being 3 miles away from where you live, at 1am in the morning and not going anywhere. I started shouting, and yelling at nothing from the inside of my car. Then my iPod dished out this track, followed by O.P.P - Naughty By Nature, and some old Nina Simone, and it was the shuffle of calm. Well done tPod. Try ever being angry to the Brothers Johnson. Today's road rage is sponsored by the letter Q:
Q - THE BROTHERS JOHNSON
- The other track I heard yesterday that I think is just brilliant - and I know there will be dissenters to this, but really, listen before you complain - is Kate Nash 'I Hate Seagulls.' Truly lovely song. Its amazing how Gnasher and Gnippers niece can make such great music.
Das ist alles.