What an awful gig.
As usual, despite my best efforts to invite people along or at least make them aware of the night, the audience numbered two, plus comedians. In fairness, it was another dark, wet, cold and miserable Glasgow night. I’d probably have stayed in too if I could afford to put the heating on. Tonight we had two drunk, loud, forty-something women who gave their names, when asked, as Shirley and Burly. Later they claimed to be Martina and Evelyn. They laughed at opener Adam Struth, but then also drowned out his punchlines. “He does look like James Blunt!” They talked all the way through my set (more on that in a bit), spoke over Chris Steven to the extent they bought him two drinks by way of apology, continued to banter with Tony Hilton (who handled them pretty well), and so it went on. Right up to the point when they snuck out at a break and didn’t return, having apologised to us as a collective and said “we feel we’re putting you off” – which got a resounding “you can’t leave, you’re the audience…”
After they’d gone, Magnum PI’s dad came in, stood at the bar and slurred incoherent mumblings at Will Setchell. A couple of biker-types came in and stood at the bar, paying little attention even when headliner Obie addressed them directly, as he does when drawing people in to his tall tales. They left during his set, and the evening ended with him playing to one punter sitting off to the side, humouring Obie but not laughing much. Or at all. He seemed more intent on making sure we all knew he was straight. Obie turned to me during his set and said, in solidarity, “Twelve years, and I’m dying on my hole too big man.”
Because that’s what I did. I started kind of okay, with a line about Malky (the Grim Raper) and a physical/visual impression representative of Glasgow’s pothole-riddled roads. I tried a new line (Did you ever notice….sorry, I just realised I’ve never noticed anything), then tried the subway stuff that I wrote last year in Uberstardom. Except, I hadn’t learned it, far less rehearsed it, and it fell pretty fucking flat. A few lines got slight laughs, and at least I tried it to know what to change – shorten it, learn it, practise it, try it again, repeat. The next bit was an unrehearsed anecdote, which went on far too long, and which was hindered by my inability to remember the precise chronology of events. Backtracking to correct myself didn’t work so well for me either. I might try it again as a much, much shorter and more direct anecote, or I might just adapt it into a throwaway line or the set-up for a joke. Certainly, it needs changed drastically if it’s ever to work. It’s the longest silence I’ve yet endured/encountered in my short time doing this. The fact I moved flat last week, and helped two other people flit too, means I still haven’t recovered from climbing thousands of stairs up and down to and from tenement flats. I said to Obie when I turned up that I genuinely felt I might just fall asleep at the mic. In hindsight, that’d probably have gone better…
Anyway, fuck it, I’m not dwelling on this shit. I wasn’t very good, and I know it needs work to make it funny. The plus side is I tried it and died in front of mainly friends/fellow comics, and nobody had a good gig last night so there’s a bit of leeway there. I also know I was shit and need to refine and hone this new stuff if it’s ever going to work.
It was Malky’s birthday too, so we all just got pissed afterwards and celebrated it with him – just the hard core of regulars who can always be seen at his gigs, in the audience if not performing.
It’s weird, the Victoria Bar, because every week without fail there is at least one drunk headcase happy to chip in. And if they leave, another turns up. And it’s never the same ones two weeks running. I suppose we’re lucky in Glasgow to have such a wide variety of amenable nutters, who come down to this gig and heckle with their presence and asides. And it seems there’s no shortage of them. It’d just be nice to play to an audience numbering double figures – the Halt the previous night was rammed, 60 or 70 people packed in. Then the next night you play to two or three. Credit to Obie, he could have given up, and I’d have been tempted, playing to one disinterested punter and a dozen people who saw his act the night before. I don’t know how we get people down there, I put it on facebook every time I’m on (which is most weeks as it stands…) – maybe it’s the location or reputation of the bar that’s the issue, but it’s not that far from the Merchant City so hopefully with the comedy festival coming up we can find ourselves some regulars…
So yeah. My next gig will be the 22nd at the Halt, doing Car Crash Comedy again (tonight may have been great practise for that…!), then at The Stand in early March for the first time, followed by a couple of charity gigs before the comedy festival compilation shows at the end of the month. But this Wednesday, if you’re free, and you fancy a laugh, you can see between eight and eleven comedians, absolutely free, doing funny material that needs an audience to appreciate it. At no cost. You’ve nothing to lose, so if you’re about on Wednesday, between 8pm and 11pm, come down and support the scene at grass roots level. As compere Chris Henry says every gig “Live comedy is nothing without an audience.” Hope to see you there.