Once more unto the breach, dear friends.
A magical mystery tour courtesy of First Bus meant I didn’t get down until a full forty-five minutes past the start time, to find that we hadn’t yet kicked off. The audience comprised entirely comedians and two girls one of them knew, and compere Chris Henry jokingly introduced the night as a workshop and told the girls they’d be able to look into the acts’ eyes and see the look of someone about to commit suicide. He also warned us that over the course of the evening we would undoubtedly be joined by people disproving Darwin’s theory of evolution, which wasn’t much of a prediction given the Vicky Bar’s propensity for attracting nutters and mutants. Astoundingly, we never get the same ones twice – unless, of course, they mutate from week to week. It seems there is an infinite string of transient backward beings who stop by on a Wednesday evening just long enough to heckle before moving on again, these not-so-littlest hobos.
There were four acts in the first section, the first of whom (Daniel Downie) did a piece about…the use of the word cunt in Glasgow. So that’s at least four of us have a take on it, and that’s only of the people I’ve seen. Hopefully I’ll get mine filmed at my next Stand gig, after which I’ll have to write it off. Even though I like my take on it, and am happy with where it leads, it’s not worth the potential clashing with other acts, and the fact I’ve seen three others do something on that same topic within the past fortnight or so means it’s too easy an observation. I feel I owe it to myself to strive to stand out as a stand-up, and am having serious thoughts about how best to achieve that. There are a couple of ideas in the pipeline.
I went on third in the second section, right after a handful of locals had walked in as Chris reminded us “Darwin.” One in particular, a long-haired, slightly-camp twat, established himself at the bar halfway up the room right before my set. I’d had vague notions that I should try something new tonight, but hadn’t quite got so far as to decide what – I’ve got the bus anecdote I told once before, another I haven’t yet used about the time I thought I’d found a corpse, and the basics of a new routine that would have to be a character act. Sarah Crone was down to spectate, and since she still insists on telling everyone that I “feel like a horse” if you pat me on the clavicle (don’t ask) I told her I’d do the stuff about that I did once before at a Flying Duck gig. I opened with that, and by explaining “I’m going to try some new stuff. If you don’t like, it doesn’t matter. If I don’t like it, it doesn’t matter either.”
I was wearing my Alien Vampires t-shirt, which bears the legend “I Fuck Nuns” on the back. I got it for a fiver extra in a deal when I bought two of their CDs a few years back, and I don’t wear it much. I love their music, but their name and imagery is just ludicrous, especially this t-shirt slogan. I used it as a visual punchline after talking about four or five other t-shirts which, over the years, have drawn (or tried far too hard to draw) controversy. It went kind of alright, but I should probably write it and tighten it if I’m going to use it again. Similarly, the “character act” lines I tried went okay after I explained what I was doing, but right now I’ve written it as a sketch and I think it probably works better that way. I don’t want to say too much about it at this stage, since I have ideas for it and since I’m finding out how hard it is to stand out without also giving my ideas away online.
I finished with my poem about Nazi Bus Drivers, and relayed the story of getting kicked off the bus for being 30p short on my fare. I also added in what I could remember of some other “bus” lines I came up with – I had no notes tonight, and was planning to tell the dead body anecdote right up to the point my bus took me on a mystery tour and changed my mind for me. This twat at the bar interrupted three or four times. First time I told him “I can’t hear you, but I doubt it’s anything interesting,” and later used two of the first putdowns I wrote [again, I’m not sharing them online, sorry.] His next heckle seemed kind of suggestive, in a camp way, and so I made some reference to how “I told you already, I feel like a horse”, and since that got a laugh and I had nothing else prepared it seemed a good place to stop. I really wasn’t feeling it tonight, even before leaving the house, but it’s brought home that I need to get off my arse and make a purposeful effort to write new material rather than winging it on the back of a few ideas.
I was followed by music duo Pop Art, who performed three songs. For the first, singer Ben took a bar stool into the room and sat right in front of one of these two lassies to serenade her with a tune about it being “2.30am and you’ll do” – funny enough, and she took it in good spirits despite the potential for embarrassment. For their second song, the guitarist leapt off the stage and walked up the length of the bar playing, again all in good fun. This heckler was making a few disparaging remarks, but nothing audible. For their final song, which had no music yet, Ben asked Jim Hobbit if he would mind being serenaded, which was fine – he pulled a stool up and sat right in front of Hobbit, reciting some pseudo-romantic verse. This was too much for our token bawbag – he stepped forward and confronted Ben, asking what he was doing. The microphone, you would think, might give a clue that it was part of a performance – but then again, evolution has yet to reach this part of town. Bawbag then inquires of Jim if he minds this, as the rest of the pub in unison try to defuse the tension by explaining that they know each other and we all know the pair of them. I looked to my right and saw Rob Kane, like me, was sitting on the edge of his seat, ready to spring into action if anything kicked off. We’re big guys, so we could have huckled him out into the street no bother. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.
Instead, the barmaid called the guy over, and then Malky took him into the other room to talk to him, while Ben continued with a song no-one was really paying any attention to by this point. He seemed completely unphased by this interruption, credit to him. And that was the end of the night, no headliner this week.
I got home to find that the talented Matthew Cowan has found time to upload the video he took of me at the Bier Halle a week past on Sunday, where I did my current set to a fairly small audience. Once I’ve done it at The Stand in three weeks or so I’ll look at dropping some of the older material, as well as the stuff that is too close to what other folk are doing. By that time, I’m hoping to have written more material too – I’ll try and get the bus stuff down, and see if I can figure out how to start carving my niche in the scene. Until then, watch this space for any other gigs that crop up meantime.
Me at the Bier Halle, 3rd April 2011. Filmed by Matthew Cowan