When I arrived, Steven Halcrow was in the throes of winding down his spot. The pub was pretty packed, as it seems to always be now. If we can eventually get a similarly dedicated crowd at the Victoria bar we’ll be laughing. Malky was compering, in the absence of Chris Henry who is in London this week. You can see their festival shows on April 4th and 2nd respectively. Next up was The Collective, a sketch group featuring Will and Geoff, Sarah Cassidy, Chris Stephens, and a couple of others. Their stuff was pretty funny, though different to their stand-up, and pretty well received.
At the break, I asked Malky about the chances of getting on – making my case by appealing that he knew it was a tight five minutes, which I could do in about four like I did on Sunday. He obliged me, proving again that he’s a decent guy despite the creepy onstage persona he has developed. He warned me, though, that the crowd had been a bit subdued and that I shouldn’t expect to go down as well as I just had at The Stand. I’m confident enough in my set now to tell him that this wasn’t a problem – the opening joke always gets them laughing, and then it’s pretty much relentless one-liners and observations with a pretty high and consistent hit rate.
Paul Alcroft won people round with his ten minutes, followed by Sarah May Philo, me, and then Darren Connell. Paul and Darren are doing a festival show with Eddie Cassidy on 2nd April, details here. My friends, most of whom work in art departments or in locations for TV and film, enjoyed Paul and loved Darren. Paul has a pretty strong set, but Darren remains one of my favourites on the circuit, capable of working any crowd with brilliant non-sequitur ad-libbing and bordering somewhere between mental, creepy, scary, but always hilarious. You should try and see him while it won’t cost you anything.
It occurred to me, thankfully beforehand, that it might be possible to record my set on an iphone, and my mate Davie kindly agreed to do just that. I’d thought about getting my set filmed at The Stand, but they have quite precise (though not unreasonable) guidelines and in the end I didn’t even check if my usual cameraman could make it, thinking I’ll maybe ask him to film the charity gig in a fortnight instead.
Anyway, I jumped up and rattled through my set, which went okay. Almost everything that gets laughs got laughs, though for some reason I said “stab” instead of “glass” during an opening joke. I prefer “glass” and have always used it, so I don’t know if it was some kind of Freudian Slip or what. So ignore that, usually I say “glass” and it’s funnier… Apart from that, I was kind of going too fast to really pay much attention to myself, though during a slight lull I used my “They can’t all be winners” ad lib for the second time that night – which ought to tell me something about why I felt the need to use it. Since I had friends here, I continued past the big laugh in the ‘fish bit’ to add my closing two lines, doing my set in its entirety. And, as at The Stand, they fell a bit flat after the big payoff. So just like Sandy Nelson suggested earlier in the evening, that’s them chucked so that I can end on the line that gets the huge response. I do like the fact that so many pro or time-served comedians are so freely giving of their time and advice to us newcomers. Obie said to me later, having asked if I wanted some feedback (answer: always), that after every joke I look down at my feet. I found myself doing that at The Stand too, and in truth it’s because I don’t really know where to look while there’s a prolonged laugh. He tells me it makes me look insecure, and what I ought to do is take a drink on stage with me. Once the joke is told, I pick up the drink, smile, and take a sip, demonstrating that I’m confident enough to know it’s funny. While I agree I need to find some way of acting during the reaction, I’m kind of against taking a drink onstage as it feels like reaching for it breaks the flow somewhat. It’s given me food for thought though, so I’ll have a think and try to find something I’m comfortable with which works.
Video by Davie Burt, standing next to the squeaky door that I keep meaning to take WD40 with me to fix. The missing line at the start is “Jesus welcomes you with open arms.”
Loads of people took the time to tell me (on Sunday or last night) that they really like my new set, the pacing and the hit rate of it. It’s still a work-in-progress, but it’s good to feel like I’m doing something right and getting better. This video also surpasses both previous ones, since the first one was my first gig, the second was drowned out by background chatter, and I got heckled in both.
Obie headlined, doing his bit about depression/nursery rhymes. Again, my friends loved him and I was glad that they seemed to enjoy so many of tonight’s acts. He did the same memory piece that he’d done last Wednesday, but due to the bigger and more spread out audience people who shouted numbers couldn’t see if he got them right, and people who could see if he got them right didn’t cheer to acknowledge as much. It’s almost like it needs some kind of flipchart or projection so that it works in a larger room, though it was still ridiculously funny. Don’t forget that you can see his solo show on 1st April, details here.
Obie on depression/nursery rhymes, a video I just found on youtube:
Owing to the expanded second half, there was no room for the joke competition this evening. It was a good night though, and a new experience to play two gigs to two different rooms about an hour or so apart. Afterwards, a few of us went to Box. Scott Horner was chatting to a lassie there called Claire, and at the end of the night me, Davie, Scott and Claire decided to keep drinking. The question was where, and we decided on Claire’s flat literally next to Hampden Stadium. It was a brilliant night, and we sat up drinking until 11am or so – at one point three of us just passing round a bottle of Tia Maria and necking it direct as we listened to the Stereophonics and Oasis, The Who, and various other guitar bands. Having almost fallen asleep during Kevin Bridges DVD, we eventually headed home about 2pm. I was supposed (was asked) to be on at the Victoria Bar tonight, but having been awake for 27 straight hours and drinking for the latter sixteen, I texted Malky to decline – the first gig I’ve ever turned down, but I could feel the need for sleep encroaching upon me.
So that was last night’s adventure. I’d like to thank Malky for the gig, Davie Burt, Andy Drummond, Phil Barratt, Andy Neilsen, Stuart Bryce and Tom(?) for coming down, and for sticking around despite not getting into The Stand, and my cousin Gail for turning up (her sister, Laura, brought her along last week, and it’s well cool that my wee cousins are supporting the scene). And of course thanks to Claire, for her hospitality in providing us with a location and means for all-night drinking. Good times 🙂
Next gig is a charity thing in Slouch on Bath Street on the 14th, subject to anything else arising beforehand.