An interesting premise for tonight’s gig – every comic gets a maximum of five minutes to talk about (and be funny on) a topic they are presented with onstage. If they die on their arse, they get ‘gonged’ off with the sound of a car crashing and hitting a wall. There are 25 comedians slated to participate, and during the evening a couple of punters decide to have a go as well – no experience necessary.
All the names go into one hat, the topics into another (15 decided in advance by the organiser, 15 suggested by the audience). One name is drawn, the comedian gets onstage and draws a topic. Simple enough…
I got drawn first. The audience was pretty small, maybe 20 or so (it doubled during the evening), and the format was unprecedented so I had no previous acts to follow, and therefore no advance thoughts on how to go about it. I drew the topic of “Spam”, and the first thing that came into my head was Monty Python’s song. The rules of the evening meant no using old material, so I figured that extended to no using anyone else’s material either. Especially not Monty Python’s. I stalled for time by admiring the stage, all decorated in Police Line Do Not Cross tape, with a couple of red fuzz lights at the sides flashing away throughout, making a particularly bad-taste but topical joke about how they’d got the tape from a golf course in Clifton (too soon?), and returning to the topic a couple of times while dying on my arse, to say at least no-one had actually died (apart from that one lassie in Clifton) – don’t get me wrong, it’s a sin for the family and terrible they found the body on Christmas Day of all days. I was just trying to be vaguely topical. And stalling for time. I thought about pointing out Spam backwards is Maps, but for some reason didn’t – even though it might have afforded me some more ideas. Meh, it wasn’t easy opening a gig where nobody knew what to expect. I got a few laughs though, and one line which I will be able to use again.
Anyway, Spam – I related it to the internet and made a joke I quite like and will probably re-use about email spam, then went on to talk about Facebook and people updating the mundanities of their lives to it. I had to talk a lot of unfunny shit to get anywhere that raised a laugh, and then related the topic to cans of spam and supermarkets. I related a joke/idea that my friend Andy McPherson came up with when we were trying to write sketches, about someone in a queue getting pissed off with the person behind looking in their basket, but it only got a laugh when I acknowledged it didn’t get a laugh. I also tried to convey the vaguest memory I have of trying to write a line ABOUT police tape, but as I could only vaguely remember it I made a proper hash of it. I lasted 2m 41s before getting the crash noise as I died beyond all hope of salvation. Which kind of illustrates the earlier stuff I wrote (and Asim commented on) about Gong Shows: I lasted 2m 41s with no material tonight, but at the gong show I made it to less than half that with a rehearsed set.
So, that was my turn over and Malky went up next to discuss chickens, followed (roughly in order) by Daniel Webster and Gareth Waugh. The latter drew Chat Roulette, and had to confess he’d never heard of it. Me neither, so I felt for him – most of his set was spent trying to discover what it actually was. Malky got up a second time (his name must have been entered twice), but lasted half a minute before he began a joke he introduced as “one of Obie’s” – no old material, so that was his arse out the window. Obie himself won, by being the first to make it to five minutes without dying. He did a quite brilliant riff about Cupcakes, about being addicted to them, weaning himself off with patches made from the paper you’re left with after eating one, about drying them out and smoking them (“also takes care of the munchies at the same time”) – really funny, had the whole place in stitches, and was a great end to the first section – to the untamed audience, it now seemed like maybe tonight would and could be funny after all. So they all came back for the second section.
From here on out, it all descends into carnage – so many comedians and topics it’s impossible to remember, far less remember the order. Ed Cassidy made it to five minutes talking about Ginger Birds (despite getting ‘crashed’ early when the organiser thought he was going to revert to exisiting material), Chloe Philip tried hard to discuss Abstract Dance Moves (and resorted to doing some), Adam Struth talked about Jesus, Alan Anderson (whose name was entered for him) started talking about Robocop, but ended up trying to embarrass the organisers into crashing him off – which worked. Someone completely new to comedy got up and spoke about Single Maws, doing well for a complete newcomer. Regulars Will Setchell and Geoff Gawlor both got up, though I can’t remember what they spoke about, as did Malky’s pal Debby Barry who I know solely from being my co-commentor on Malky’s Facebook statuses. Sarah Cassidy ‘channelled’ her mother as a character, and spoke about the Infinite Wisdom of Spiders…
I had to leave early to get my bus home, but the night seemed pretty successful and will hopefully run again – at least next year, if not at the Fringe and/or the Glasgow Comedy Festival too. For me, the next gig seems to be tonight at the Vicky Bar once more – just saw on Facebook that Malky is short of acts and looking for fives, so I’ve stuck my name in. The next confirmed gigs after that are at The Stand next year, but I’m hopeful that both Malky and/or Alan Anderson, at least, will be able to give me gigs before then. If so, you’ll probably read it here first.