Just did my first proper/best ten minute spot.
Tonight’s gig was a weird one, a charity evening which was in aid of the Student Hardship Fund and not, as we’d been led to believe until yesterday evening, for Endangered Turtles. I discovered that Qudos is the name of the main room in the QMU, the room where bands play – I’ve seen Laibach, Disturbed, Soil and Adema here over the years. That doesn’t necessarily elevate me to their status though.
Round tables had been laid out, cabaret style, and the venue was filled with haze to accentuate the beams dancing from the moving lights overhead. It was all a bit too rock n roll for us, since there were only (after a forty-minute delay to the start time) sixteen punters in, and eight comedians. Meanwhile, the pub quiz upstairs could be heard generating cheers and prompted the suggestion that maybe we should go up, stage a guerilla takeover, and commandeer their audience instead. That said, despite the small size of our audience, they were very receptive and it turned out to be a really good gig – even with the overwhelming size of the venue.
Grant Gallacher compered, possibly his first time doing so although you would never know – he did an excellent job. He had helped organise the night, to the extent of booking the acts, and spent most of the pre-show apologising for the lack of audience and the last-minute notification that the charity we were supporting was in fact the Student Hardship Fund and not Endangered Turtles. Not that I think that mattered to any of us, really. I joked that maybe holding a Student Hardship fundraiser in the students’ union was a mistake – taking money from hard-up students to donate to a charity helping hard-up students…
Jamie Dalgleish opened, and did material I’d mostly seen before. When comparing the streets of Glasgow to an Italian city he has added in a really nice follow-up line/pun which a few of us liked, so I hope he keeps it. He got an unintended laugh by asking, as ever, “any students in?” and then catching himself with the realisation he was standing in a students’ union.
John Walker went up next and did mostly new material, that I hadn’t heard anyway. He drew a risky – though comparatively tasteful – parallel between the cap on student travel expenses and the current situation in Japan. Again, for such a small crowd they were very appreciative.
I was up next, wired on coffee having had about ten hours sleep in the preceding three days. I had planned to do my ‘standard’ five minutes, then some new stuff and some poetry. While deciding beforehand on poems to do I chose the ones that are topical, the two AudioTwat ones for the reactions they get, and a couple of others. I checked with Ross Main if he was going to do his Sadomasochism bit, and since he was I omitted the poem that inadvertently inspired it – I wasn’t short of others to read instead, and his bit is much funnier too, so there was no need for crossover material.
I had again written my set on the back of my hand, too tired to even attempt to do it from memory. This is a habit I need to break as, whether just from tiredness these past two gigs, I notice that I am just reading straight off my hand, and not even attempting to disguise it. I know the set, so I am now relying far too much on what was originally just a reminder if I got stuck. I used my ad-lib from the other night, and again referred to my script “which looks suspiciously like the back of my hand” – Jamie referred to this afterwards as “I know my set like the back of my hand”, which is actually a better line I think. I might ask him if I can use it.
My set went well enough, I got laughs where I’d expect to get them although the ‘cunt’ stuff was a bit hit and miss. I got a big laugh on the ‘Brazilian’ line and a groan at the ‘fish’ bit, so I did my follow up line to that, and then segued into brand new material that I’ve written or adapted since Monday’s gig – all about plumbing and Gladiators. Most of it went really well, so with some fine-tuning it will all go into my five-minute set when I next re-work it, though I need to trim off some of the superfluous background detail and figure out a line to end on. I also used my three main Turtle jokes, written specifically for tonight, which went okay. Not strong enough to use any other time, though.
From there, I went into poetry. The third short, topical one is about Nazi bus drivers and I sidetracked into explaining where it came from, on account of the big laugh it got when I said I had some issues with them. Essentially, I got chucked off a bus by a wank for being 30p short of my fare – it costs less to get into town than it does to get home, according to this prick. Anyway, I might exploit my annoyance further and add in an explanation after that poem in future, since it got a decent reaction. Right up to the point I was flashed from the back of the room. This threw me, as I wasn’t expecting it at all, and it put me off my flow so much I made reference to “being flashed by someone at the back of the room. Not with a light, they’re actually naked.” I couldn’t get back on track – I’d been ad-libbing, so there was no track to get back on – and instead ended on one of the two AudioTwat poems. I’d wanted to do both, but since I was clearly at my time I didn’t want to take the piss, and over-running has a knock-on effect on all the other acts. I raced through the first one, since that was where the page was open, and then left the stage having very much enjoyed myself. I only did four or five poems, mostly four-line ones, so that means I can almost do ten minutes just with material. A bit more writing and refining and I’ll be there.
The first section was closed by Scott Gibson, whose set I missed at The Stand. Watching him tonight, I recognised his material from The Halt (I knew I’d seen him before) and he tells a very funny anecdote about narrowly avoiding the Sex Offenders’ Register. The forum has a review section and in the past week his praises have been sung by a fair few folk, and tonight he ably demonstrated why that is. Definitely one to watch.
The interval came at 10.30pm, so I made my excuses and headed for the bus, in dire need of sleep. I’ve seen Eddie and Ross before (Eddie just two nights previously) and they too are on Malky’s bills quite often, so as much as I would have liked to stay to lend them my support I know I’ll see them again. Similarly, Chris Conroy was on and I’ve seen him during my disastrous heat in the Laughing Horse competition. He reassured me that that gig suffered from the lack of an audience, and offered me some advice just as I was leaving.
“Do you record yourself?” he asked. I said I had a couple of videos on youtube, and I always write this blog to remind myself of any ad-libs I use, and note what works or what doesn’t. He says it’s worth making audio recordings so I can hear what ad-libs work so that I can use them again in the same way, and in truth it would have been useful to have an exact record of the new, unwritten stuff I did tonight. He also advised that I open with my ‘Brazilian’ line – “you nearly got a round of applause, and if you’d waited maybe a second or two longer it’d have come.” He went on to explain that it’s crucial to get the women onside from the start, and then the men will follow. Whereas if the women fold their arms the men will be more wary of laughing too and you have to really work to get them all back onside. I have a week after tonight’s gig and before the next one, so I will try and restructure my five to start with that joke, incorporate the new Gladiator stuff, lose the dead wood (“breakfast in bed” overkill, for one), and see how that pans out. I’d open with that joke tonight, but because everything has a sort of natural progression at the moment I can’t just take it out and use it to begin, as the flow will be disrupted. It has been a consistently good line though, much more reliable than the Jesus one I’ve been using for three months, and so I’ll definitely try it out as an opener.
Unfortunately, I missed Chris’s set tonight and after taking the time to offer me such seemingly sound advice I will try and catch him soon. As it was, I went straight for the bus and home to bed, hearing later that the gig went on until midnight. Credit to Grant though, he put together a pretty solid line-up and did a fine job of compering a small audience in a huge room – hopefully there will be more gigs like this, maybe even one for Endangered Turtles after all.
My next gig is tonight, Saturday 19th, at The Flying Duck on Renfield Street, £3 entry. This is my first official gig as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival, and I have been allowed to do ten minutes on the proviso that it incorporates comic poetry. So there will be the usual five, the Gladiator Plumbing stuff, and then a few poems – which I am now off to decide upon and then time. If you fancy starting your evening off with a laugh, I’ll see you there.