Tonight got off to a great start. Just as I left my flat Eddie Cassidy posted me a message on facebook about our gig last week saying “that line you gave me has went down amazingly well when I’ve done it, I owe u a pint!” – so obviously I’m well happy that not only has he decided to try the line I suggested, but it also seems to be working for him. What a compliment 🙂 Just a reminder that you can see his festival show on the 2nd of April here.
The Stand was easily the best gig yet. Having spent two days fretting about it, I was pleased to find that some of my friends/occasional work colleagues had decided to come down and catch this gig. Unfortunately, by the time doors opened at 7.30pm the queue was already long enough to ensure it sold out before they even joined it. One of the other acts said she’d reserved tickets on the door, which hadn’t even occurred to me. Lesson learned. We’d already agreed that if they didn’t get in they’d go up to The Halt to see the free Pop-Up Comedy night and I’d get them up there afterwards. When I discovered I was on third, just before 9pm, I texted Malky to see if there was any chance of getting into his second half in order that their trip wasn’t wasted and that they got to see me after all, since they’d made the effort to come down.
I was torn though, because I did want to see the Stand show and especially headliner Sandy Nelson – a renowned stand-up, and actor whom you may have seen in Braveheart or Still Game amongst other things. It’s also really bad form, and something I’ve always avoided, to turn up, do your spot, and leave without watching anyone else. At the same time, this could be my first chance to do two gigs in one night and see how that went.
The Stand’s sound guy was just that, a sound guy. He ran me through their policy of when and how many times the lights would be flashed to indicate where I was timewise, was friendly and welcoming. Likewise, compere Gavin Webster was friendly and chatty. It turned out he’s been going for eighteen years, whereas tonight was my eighteenth gig… Scott Gibson and Stuart Mitchell were on the bill, both of whom I’ve seen at The Halt previously, as were Bruce Fummey and Chrissie M, Curtis Threadgold and the opener, Johnny [whose surname escapes me, sorry] doing his first ever spot ever, which was very well received. Chrissie asked me how I got into comedy, and to be honest I don’t really know how to answer that. Off the cuff, I just said “I had a flatmate who thought about doing stand-up, but instead he killed himself. So rather than kill myself I thought I’d try comedy.” The first sentence is based in truth, to a degree. Not that I’m trying to make light of his death, but if you can’t laugh what can you do? Greet? I’d rather laugh…
At virtually the last minute Sandy Nelson arrived backstage, arranged to swap roles with Gavin, and went straight out to open the show. I went out to watch him, and to just experience being in an audience that size – the venue sold out, and holds around 200 people I think. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel able to watch the opening two acts as I was still desperately trying to keep my own material in my mind. I wrote a list of prompt words on the back of my hand for the first time, because I figured (after the debacle of the Laughing Horse Comp, when I forgot my stuff) I’d rather have it and not use it than not have it and fail.
Backstage, Sandy began guessing at what my middle initials stand for. After starting sensibly, his suggestions became increasingly more outlandish, until I just told him. Of course, since I do have material about them I related it, and he added his own suggestion of “Randy Arsebandit” – continuing the anal fixation that stems from there apparently being so few insults beginning with the letter A. Gavin joined in, and between them they decided I was either Jordan ra Mills (using the ‘ra’ that Glaswegians use for ‘the’) or Jordan a ra Mills (Jordan of the Mills), where The Mills would obviously be the abbreviation of some area of Glasgow (Millhouse?), in the manner already established by The Drum (Drumchapel), The Mulk (Castlemilk) and so on. Sandy also ran it all together as Jordanary, I immediately said “Out of the Jordanary” and he told me that’s me got the title of my first fringe show… 🙂
When the time came to go on, I walked out as confidently as I could, having already ascertained that there was a step up onto the stage – I wanted my first laugh to come from a joke, not an unintended pratfall – and that the mic was cordless. My opening joke, which has always been well received, got a huge laugh, such a long laugh (longer, on account of crowd size, than ever previously) that I didn’t really know where to look before it died enough to do my second line. More on this in the next blog. As practised at the Bier Halle on Sunday, every single joke got a laugh – when one fell a little flat, I looked at my hand for a prompt, which got a laugh in itself and then I ad-libbed “They can’t all be winners,” which got another big laugh. Tonight I got, I think, three separate rounds of applause, and my opening bit in which I use the word “cunt” about nine times in four lines again got laughs on every single usage.
I tried to slow down a bit in my delivery, and (as I’d been warned) didn’t actually notice the lights flashing – despite watching for it. As a result, I don’t know how long I actually did, though I was definitely within my time. The pun in my fish bit got a groan as ever, a huge laugh, and a round of applause. I followed it with my rehearsed line about taking a groan, and then my final line to end my set. After introducing the next act, Sandy gave me some invaluable advice backstage. He asked what was the line that had got this massive laugh/applause, and I reminded him, and he said I’d only had thirty seconds left. “If you’d just ended there and walked offstage everyone would have remembered you, saying ‘who was that guy?’ – always leave them on a big laugh, even if it means losing a couple of follow-up lines.” – wise words, and one I will definitely take on board. I’d no inclination of how long I’d done though, and actually finished by saying “As I suspected, I think I’ve under-run,” before saying goodbye.
I hadn’t heard back from Malky, but he’s such a good and generous guy I thought I’d take my chances by just showing up at The Halt and begging for a spot. My six friends were already up there anyway, and so I apologetically spoke to all the remaining acts individually to explain that – while I know it’s really bad form – I was going to leave early to try and get a second gig, and to meet up with my friends. They were all very understanding, thankfully, and Sandy said he might come up for a pint afterwards. I don’t know if he did, though I did see Stuart Mitchell in the bar at kicking out time.
So, it was a great gig with a very receptive audience, and I’m just a wee bit sad that I left so quickly without really taking it all in. Especially after I’d built it up in my head for so long previously. I’m back there in May though, and will be doing mostly the same set – maybe with a new one-liner or two to replace the final two lines which I’ll almost certainly drop as advised, since they don’t really add anything to the end of the main “fish” bit. We’ll see.
I did get a gig at The Halt though, so this evening’s story is only half told… Read the rest.