One of us is a bit drunk, and I think it might be you. Hic. After the success of yesterday’s gig, this evening’s was only ever going to be abysmal in comparison – so at least I wasn’t left disappointed…
Tonight’s line-up was much the same as last night’s – Joe Hullait opened with some new stuff then reverted back to his current act, Les Sinclair did more-or-less the same material with a couple of extra lines that were great, Jamie Dalgleish had some brilliant material about obese people which was funny, disgusting, and managed to steer clear of territory already covered by Billy Connolly, and Ed Whitely was absolutely fantastic – great lines, great presence, great use of the trombone, and able to seem creepy without being sleazy.
Malky did some new (to us) stuff, having written so much material in his time that he’s able to pick and choose what jokes to do. As the proprietor of Pop-Up Comedy, he has decided against honing a specific set, since everyone sees him every gig, and instead focusses on always writing new material. This means his set is often hit-and-miss (something he has come to rely on as he develops his persona), but also means that the audience regulars don’t tire of hearing the same jokes five times a fortnight at his various gigs. His co-star in their forthcoming show, Debby Barry, followed him, and did the best set I think I’ve seen her do. You can catch them with Alan Scott at The Halt on 4th April.
Chris Grady went on third, coincidentally his third gig, and has some really funny one-liners. He had one punchline loudly pre-empted by a heckler at the back of the room, unfortunately, but managed to continue regardless. Heckling was to become a theme of the evening, and John Aldiss has a very subtle put-down whereby he picks out the start of Duelling Banjos on his guitar to great effect – which he used tonight in the midst of a set that included his take on “Paparazzi” and a new tune about Berlusconi.
By the start of the third section, a grey-haired couple had established themselves at the bar, loudly chatting to the point where compere Chris Henry put words in their mouths, narrating their conversation and actions and observing that they were paying so little attention he could say anything. He did, and we were howling with laughter in their oblivion. The icing on the cake came when she instinctively and ignorantly contributed to a round of applause that was at their expense. You can catch Chris at his solo show Genderation X this Saturday, 4th April.
Pearse James opened this section, starting with “Highlights of last night’s gig”, in which he delivered several punchlines, that most of us recognised, from a cue card. Truly inspired, and he then went on to do some more good stuff (some of which I missed, preparing myself to go on next) and finishing with a hilarious bit about Henry vacuum cleaners. Between his set and mine some more loud (but harmless) drunks came in, to my chagrin. After the high of last night’s gig, tonight’s gig had a lot to live up to and I was feeling the pressure as it was. I reminded myself of some of my heckler put-downs, and took the stage feeling far less confident than usual.
I had two main hecklers – the grey haired guy who was half of the sixty-something couple, and another guy at the bar in front of me, fatter but about the same age. Between them, it was almost continuous and started immediately. I took the mic, put the stand behind me, and stood on the very front of the stage. This is something I have picked up from Obie – get right in amongst them – and has been helped by my two gigs at the Flying Duck where I felt I had to raise my game. I did the same set as last night, stalling a fair few times as these twats put me off. I looked at the back of my hand without really taking anything in, so that was a lot of use. I remember using three of my put-downs, and managed to tie others into my set – calling people a cunt, for example, or following “You’re only as young as the women you feel” with “Obviously I don’t mean you”, directed at the grey-haired couple. Particularly proud of that one, and both of them did eventually shut up. I also used “I’ve always wanted to do comedy, because I hoped that one day I’d get up in front of a room full of strangers and be heckled throughout my set, and tonight, I’m living the dream!”
The “Fish” bit got a groan, and instead of saying “I’ll take a groan, man” I inadvertently missed out the “man” at the end, which rendered the next line utterly redundant and I had to admit as much and abandon it. I then stumbled over the words “pleasure” and “privilege” and said it had been a “plivilege” setting aside this time “to publicly humiliate myself.” I finished by saying I was just going to “quit while I’m behind”, and got the fuck off stage fast as I could. Then John McGovern headlined, on account of the fact he’d brought ten people with him and we didn’t want them to just watch his set then disappear, but I have to admit I missed most of it as I went into the room behind the bar to try and recover from my spot. Chris advised me that I ought to cut down on the swearing, in order for it to have more impact when I do it, and in all honesty that will be harder than writing material or getting up on stage. I’m so used to not having to curtail my language, working in industries where it’s not a major requirement, that I’m going to find it really difficult to reel it in. As Gus Lymburn said at Car Crash Comedy, after I proceeded to use “fucking” where others might merely use “um” or “eh” as verbal punctuation, “I’ve never heard the word fucking used so much in such a short space of time.” So that’s the new challenge…
A few beers turned into a mass exodus to Box for rum & cokes and Jagerbombs, where we – me, John, and half a dozen non-comedy folks – also met up with some of the other guys and girls who’d had shows tonight. On the way, we passed a sign in USC’s window advertising a “shoe club” – I think the first rule of shoe club is: no trainers.
Having said hello to Obie, Will, Geoff, Sarahs Cassidy and Crone, Darren and others, we wound up sitting up the back of the bar, where we witnessed a young lady in ridiculously-tight hotpants trying to stay vertical, wearing a top so off-the-shoulder it was virtually round her waist. When the bouncer finally came to chuck her out, I asked if that was the end of the floorshow (ahahahahaha, I’m so funny I should try doing comedy…*rolls eyes in self-disgust*) – she teetered out, followed by her lassie pal, and her man who asked the bouncer “is it because she’s drunk?” – that dick’s a fucking Einstein in the making, I tell you.
You can’t say “hotpants” and not think of Kylie, so here she is in a new advert which co-stars Mark Wood, an actor who was the year above me at the RSAMD. Since nobody I mentioned it to tonight had seen it, wire in. This elevates him immediately to “legend” status.
Darren told me he’s only just found my blog, through word of mouth, and that he was touched to read some of the praise I’ve given him on here. In turn, I was humbled to be made to feel like my opinion carries some sort of weight. I have noticed that my “site stats” have been increasing recently, so it appears that I am finding more readers one way or another. It seems appropriate to thank every single one of you at this point for showing an interest in what was originally just going to be a personal record of gigs I’d done. Thank you.
It was a good night with friends, drink, music and chat. And some wank who came up to me and asked if I was into “Detroit Techno” and then “Detroit House.” I told him (truthfully) that I like some techno and house, but I have no idea if it’s from Detroit. He slurred “Detroit Techno, man, you had to be there.” Well, I wasn’t, so fuck off. But no, instead he asks me if I like punk (again, I went through a phase when I was 17 and picked up dozens of punk compilation CDs at a time when they flooded the market, so the answer is technically yes) and now I found myself in a conversation (one-sided) about how great The Stranglers and The Clash are. I ask him if he likes Sham 69 and he looks like he might propose to me. Then he asks if I’ve heard of the Rainbow Club, and due to my teenage love of/obsession with Iron Maiden and NWOBHM I know he means the London venue and isn’t asking me about a gay bar. I tell him I know about the Rainbow and the Marquee and the Ruskin Arms, and worry that I’ve just made a friend for life. Thankfully he fucks off to the bar, is short for a drink, tries to tap me and then a friend for the extra, noises up the barmaid until she calls him an arsehole, and staggers down the bar towards the door, never to be seen again. Hooray!
And talk of these bands has reminded me that in an interval tonight I had a really good conversation with Chris about Alice Cooper, my all-time hero, explaining how he came to choose the name, anecdotes I’ve heard him tell, and the whole ethos to his music and image, as well as the celebrity fans and endorsers who love/d him. Alice has written far more romantic piano ballads than anyone realises, and Chris seemed genuinely interested to hear more.
Alice Cooper: a truly beautiful song that Frank Sinatra covered live. When he came offstage, he told Alice “You keep writing them, and I’ll keep singing them.”
So that was A Good Thing. And after Box, crossing Sauchiehall Street to get food, I was stopped by a young couple I’ve never met, who said “We saw you at The Halt yesterday, you were fucking brilliant.” Wow. So that’s my first taste of fame, and it was really weird – though of course it’s nice to be appreciated.
If you would like to appreciate me too, you can see me (and eat some free pizza) at the Bier Halle this Sunday, 3rd April. Make it a weekend of comedy by also catching Obie on the 1st (Friday), Chris on the 2nd, and Malky et al on the 4th. 🙂