This weekend has been up and down like a whore’s drawers. Or “hooer’s”, to give it the phonetic spelling appropriated by the graffiti writers at my secondary school.
There is a music festival in Sheffield this weekend, the first of its kind in the UK, called “Resistanz” – tanz, being the German word for dance, should indicate the style of music involved. Essentially, a load of bands I absolutely love are playing the UK, many for the first time, but I decided I couldn’t afford to go. Since local club the Classic Grand were (for a long time) planning to bring up some of the bigger names to play on Saturday/Sunday, and had told me they’d be bringing up other acts too as support, I’d decided to just catch those bands and save travel/accomodation money. Which was fine, until last week when the Saturday band were postponed until September and the Sunday band were cancelled entirely. At the same time, Resistanz posted on facebook claiming exclusive shows by these bands. I suspect, without supporting evidence, that both Glasgow gigs were pulled to try and boost ticket sales for the festival – since it hasn’t sold out. There was no way I was going to try and book travel and accomodation at such short notice though, knowing that it has attracted an international audience and that cheap deals will be long gone. I instead resolved to catch Chris Henry’s show on the Saturday. He too was put out by the postponement of Covenant’s gig – the venue had been double-booked and he had the earlier hassle of trying to find himself a new venue, to avoid clashing with a band who eventually didn’t play. Though they did come to Glasgow, because they posted photos of the city online. I can only presume that while the show was cancelled, the flights and hotel booking weren’t.
I was sorry to miss fantastic hard electronic bands I’m really into right now, like Covenant, S.A.M., X-Rx, C/A/T, Uberbyte, Faderhead, Caustic, Modulate, and the whole upbeat atmosphere of a low-key industrial festival hosting big name bands and bands whom I know online and who are known for their senses of humour – all of them planning much-publicised but untold collaborations on stage. So you can imagine how disappointed (but touched) I was to be told on Friday that I could have got in on the guestlist, owing to my longstanding loyalty to and friendship with Sheffield hardcore industrial act Uberbyte. By that time, though, the guestlist had been shut for four days, and while strings could have maybe been pulled it would have meant getting a train down on Saturday morning at whatever exorbitant cost, relying on the kindness of strangers to find somewhere to crash for the night. All of which meant I reluctantly had to decline this generous and unexpected offer. So that was something of a blow. I’d already tried to get free entry by applying for a job fronting their web-based TV channel chronicling the event, by making my case thus:
I’m a straight-talking Glaswegian, a fledgling stand-up comedian, not afraid to engage with people and hopefully conduct thoroughly entertaining interviews. I love the bands you’re putting on – a line-up I’d kill to see …except I’m skint so to get in free I’ll happily do a ton of research and ask the questions people want answers to.
As much as I love the music, I’m removed from the scene and have a grounded career freelancing behind-the-scenes in film and TV, and worked on the Dark City Festivals as crew, so can be relied upon to be genuinely enthusiastic without resorting to fanboy-ism.
So if you want professional, insightful interviews conducted with humour I’m yer man…
Sami from Faderhead voted for me about three comments later, but the job went to some scene DJ in the end. Whereas my only contacts in “teh sceen” are bands and promoters – I don’t really know anyone who likes this type of music.
The upside was, I’d been offered a free ticket to catch Paul, Darren and Eddie’s show on Friday night, and planned to catch Obie’s show after it. The three amigos sold out one, then two, then three shows, and so all are headlining a different night based on the number of tickets they personally sold for each gig. It was agreed weeks ago that I’d go and see the Friday show, and upon arrival Eddie asked if I’d mind doing the door in return for a few drinks, on account of the fact I’m a big guy and the least likely to get (let alone take) abuse. Happy to oblige, and that’s how it went. It was a different format to the Powerhorse trio’s gig last week, where Ross, Will, and Steven Halcrow compered themselves via the medium of faxes from Colonel Gaddafi. Ray Bradshaw compered this gig, which was fine except it meant I misjudged my timings for catching Obie’s show. Paul opened and did fine, Darren went second and blew everyone away, but I missed Eddie as I decided to go down and catch Obie. I felt bad, but not too bad since Darren had really got the audience going, and it was Eddie’s crowd tonight anyway so he had plenty of support without me. Obie’s gig was, as expected, shambolic but hilarious. And that was my Friday.
With Covenant cancelled on Saturday, it was my intention to go and catch Chris Henry’s solo show – but a last-minute call from promoter Alan Anderson convinced me to go and run his gig at Dram in return for booze (a recurring theme). I was happy to do so, able to cope with the technical side owing to my past experience, similarly confident in my abilities to work Front of House (as it were), and on the promise of alcohol I couldn’t otherwise afford. It also meant I’d get to see two shows-worth of comedy talent, and might stand me in good stead when he is next booking open spots. As it was, I saw Gavin Webster and Stuart Mitchell – both of whom I missed at The Stand when I had to leave early – Graham Mackie and Anderson compering, Michael Manley, Raymond Mearns and Terry Alderton (just incredible), as well as Mikey Adams, John McGoldrick, and David someone (sorry!) – all in all a really good night.
Ignoring all the facebook updates about how much fun is being had at Resistanz, I spent Sunday focussing on my set for tonight. I ran through it a few times, and resolved to avoid writing it on my hand this time – I only do that to remember new orders or remind myself what jokes I’ve taken out whenever I re-jig it, and this is now the fourth or fifth time it has aired in this format. I was also being filmed, after two false starts, and wanted to appear as professional, personable, and confident as possible.
I was discouraged, almost upon arrival, to find the bar holding only twenty or at most twenty-five people – previously I have seen it hold fifty or sixty. The “cunt” bit only gets a laugh on every use when there is a sizeable or more tightly-packed audience in, and the prospect of a laugh-free video didn’t really appeal – especially after the comparative success of recent gigs which I’d hoped to film instead.
Chris Dinwoodie was compering – his first time – and having only previously seen his comedy it was good to finally see his magic. I did magic myself between the ages of 14 and 19, and was interested to see what was in his repertoire, his performance style, and the reactions he received. Impressive stuff, well-handled and well-delivered, and he did an excellent job of warming up the small and spread-out crowd. I asked him to plug my blog in my introduction – word is spreading that I write it, as evidenced by my stats as well as by conversations I’ve had lately, but I find it really weird to see that people are searching google for me by name. I wonder who these people are and what they hope to find. Whereas when it tells me someone has searched “Jordan Mills comedian” or “Adventures in Comedy Jordan” I at least know why these people are trying to find me. In future I will be asking for plugs in my introductions for my own peace of mind…
So, I was filming tonight’s gig, with a minimal audience, most of whom have seen my current set, aware that my opening bit was unlikely to get as many laughs as it can do. It was at this point that Fate decided to boot me squarely in the haw-maws. Pearse James was added late to the bill, and shoehorned in in front of me. I had no problem with that – I like Pearse and his material, the fact he has so much to draw on that he often does new or different stuff and he is always consistently funny. Tonight, he did a new bit about the proliferation of the word “cunt” in Glasgow. In fairness, he rooted it in Ireland and didn’t really cross over with any of my lines per se. But he did tread all over territory I was about to cover with my opening lines, and my heart sank. While everybody else was laughing and lapping up his bit, I sat stony-faced and worrying if he was going to explicitly use expressions that are in my act. My friend and filmographer, familiar with my set, looked to me during this bit to see how I was reacting. This is the trouble with doing observational comedy about Glasgow – it’s a common observation. Although only Raymond Mearns already covers it, to my knowledge, and part of my plan with filming this was to email him a link and make sure he’s okay with me treading so close to his territory – even though our respective punchlines are markedly different.
Talking to Pearse afterwards, and bearing him no ill-feeling, it can only be described as unfortunate that he decided to do this bit tonight and that he was on right before my set. If there had been a bigger gap it would still have been noticeable, but maybe not so blatantly. As it was, I figured people would be astute enough to realise that my entire set is scripted and that I hadn’t just thought to try my own take on the preceding comedian’s material.
Confident with my set overall, I decided to open with a new line that I came up with in Box last night, while listening to Edwin Starr’s signature hit: “War, huh, yeah! What is it good for? Getting oil.” As it was a spur-of-the-moment idea to use it, I had to think about the best way to deliver it, bearing in mind that my singing is at best painful and at worst an abuse of human rights. I decided to try and emulate his delivery of the first three words, and just speak the rest. It got a good laugh and I was glad I used it, not least because “Jesus”, used as a follow-up joke, got total silence. As is my recollection anyway, the video will confirm or disprove this.
The “cunt” stuff went as well as could reasonably be expected under the circumstances, and with my firmer knowledge of my set and without anything written on my hand I delivered my material to the best of my ability. I stood firm, rather than rocking on one foot as I’ve done twice this week, and remembered to not hook my left thumb into my jeans pocket, which I’ve also noticed myself doing recently – from the photos that were taken I think it looks bad. Occasionally a line fell flat or I interjected some throwaway aside or self-observation, and I can’t fault myself for anything else particularly. I’ve already documented the stand-out memory of this gig.
When the video gets uploaded I’ll put it here for all to see, but overall I was a little disheartened. I’d anticipated a bigger turnout, but with it being Mothers Day even my wee cousin had to jettison her plans to come down. And with the festival still running and this seeming to be its busiest weekend only two of the regulars (and Obie) came down to spectate. Des Clarke headlined tonight, the first time I’ve seen him. I’ll be honest though, Terry Alderton remains the highlight of my weekend – friendly and approachable in person, hilarious, inventive and energetic onstage. I spent hours last night just watching him on YouTube.
Although ultimately I’d rather have been at Resistanz, at least Caustic and The Gothsicles are playing in Glasgow on Wednesday. And it’s FREE entry! You should come along, he’s an industrial punk with song titles like “Cock Blockin’ Beats” and “The Reason I Broke Up With You Is A Million Reasons You Psychotic Wang.” His shows are famous for being chaotic and really good fun. The Gothsicles are kind of like a NES/Sega-obsessed industrial Bloodhound Gang.
My next gig is Tuesday at The Halt Gong Show, as far as I know. Come along, don’t come along, whichever. The video of tonight will be on here within the next few days, hopefully, for anyone who wants to voyeuristically leer at a dispirited man having an average gig… Meh, onwards and upwards, right? Right.
“There is no failure except in no longer trying” – Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)