Tonight I was an unexpected stand-in stand-up.
I arrived just as the first half drew to a close, noticing that the crowd was tiny and mainly comedians – maybe 12 people total, plus three bar staff. Malky came up to me in the break and asked if I wanted to go on to start the second half, as four acts (a different four from yesterday at The Halt) had bailed out for various reasons. Obviously, I said yes.
I had a think about whether to do new material (all new, and unrehearsed), talk about the Edinburgh gig then do my usual stuff, intersperse the two, or do the usual act then talk about Edinburgh. This is what I ultimately did, after Malky spoke to some newcomers and did some tried-and-tested one-liners that got no laughs because everyone’s heard them at (all) previous gigs…! I opened by saying “Usually the compere warms the crowd up, so I’d really like to thank Malky for cooling you all right down.” Then launched into my usual act, including the two new jokes that fit in nicely and which both got laughs. Despite the small audience, I still got decent laughs in the expected places, and the combined laugh/groan which I’ve come to love as I round off my ‘fish’ bit. At the end, I just began chatting.
I related my experience of Sunday night: of dying on my arse, getting the red light, and continuing; of writing stuff on my wrist then re-enacting as I explained how I pointed at the back of the room to blatantly ‘cover’ checking it; I explained how “this isn’t comedy now, this is catharsis”, as I made light of the fact the material I forgot was the stuff about the name I’ve lived with for 29 years. And all of it got laughs. It felt really good, dealing with the thing by making light of it, and I think if I get tens in the new year I might keep it in and elaborate on it. It is, after all, quite funny that I forgot the stuff about my own name. And it also let me try out the story-telling type of thing I’ve wanted to try for a while. I thanked Malky from the stage for giving me the chance to get this shit off my chest – glad that it made people laugh in the re-telling – and even (somehow) managed to end well: I told of how I wasn’t sure if the red light was shown to me as a joke, or for real, and then over-ran as a result, tying it to the fact I’d definitely over-run tonight… (as you’ll gather from previous blogs/with reference to pull-outs and audience size, I knew I’d be okay doing 7 or 8 instead of 5 though.)
So yeah, very very happy that I do in fact know my material, and that I managed to get laughs relating my ‘woes’ – really nice to get a shot at telling an anecdote naturally, and even nicer that it went down well. Someone came up to me at the end of the night, told me I was funny, then said “Even the stuff that wasn’t funny, you’ve got a real presence, and it’s just really entertaining to listen to you” – wow! So happy with that, all I really have is stories, so if I can keep people entertained in-between and on the way to punchlines/one-liners, yeah, I’m happy with that 🙂
Which also ties in with what all my friends have said, upon seeing the videos of my stuff – every last one of them has said I’m funnier ad-libbing or talking to hecklers/the audience than when I’m doing scripted material. I guess the challenge is to find the balance, make the scripted stuff seem less so, and increase the anecdotes/stories/talking daft shite. A very positive experience tonight though, and then to round it all off Dignitas headlined and were (as usual) absolutely excellent.
This was the first gig where I didn’t wear my (so far trademark) Broken Oath t-shirt, since I didn’t know I was performing until I got there, but I’ll explain in another blog why that’s vaguely important to me. For now, though, very happy and very tired.
Next gig, details as at the end of the last blog – 28th at The Halt. Have a good Christmas, y’all.