An interesting gig, inasmuch as I was using the material that mostly bombed three days previously. I decided to give it a shot, to gauge whether Saturday was an off gig, or whether it was the material/delivery that let me down.
It so happened that, after the final date of the Modulate tour on Sunday, the London promoters who were in town with it had decided to stay on in Glasgow for a few days. Frank and Jon, for that is their names, were last in Glasgow the night of the soon-to-be-legendary Mortiis headbutting incident. That was the night that a chain of unforeseeable events led to me being booked to compere the Combi gig in London. Since they were in town anyway, it occurred to me to invite them along to see me play an actual dedicated comedy club, and thankfully they were able to make it.
I also have a friend crashing with me just now while she works for Scottish Opera, an annual tour she’s done for the past three or four years, and had my friend Sarah and her new man coming to see me too. Both Hannah and Sarah are fond patrons of the Classic Grand, and Frank and Jon were in the company of the club owner, promoter, and good guy, Barry Douglas. So it was a merry contingent of fellow rock/metal/industrial fans who came to see me this time.
I had timed my set, and it varied at around three minutes thirty to four minutes without laughs. Of course, on Saturday I did it to an audience without many laughs – which made it really difficult to tell how long it would actually last. There are less jokes in this set, and it is much more reliant on delivery for the comedy (or lack thereof), and the amount of laughter obviously affects the running time. When The Stand’s sound guy asked if any of us were likely to go over time, I took the extra thirty seconds available to me, figuring I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. He agreed that was the way to do it.
I was on in the second half, for the first time (of my three Stand gigs), and whereas usually I’d not watch anyone prior to my set tonight I felt able to watch the whole first half since I am pretty confident with this material. I stepped outside a couple of times to run through it in my head, but caught most of the acts. John Walker was trying new stuff which worked well, and Sarah Short told a brilliant anecdote which totally won the crowd over – from a slow start it built up into huge waves of laughter. I realised I’d seen Mark Davies before and I also caught Joel Israel for the first time. He later paid me the compliment of saying he’d stick around to watch my set.
The second half kicked off with Matt Winning as Steff E. Graph (“You’re following Matt Winning? Good luck!” – Sarah) and I was on second. I ran through my set again once more beforehand, backstage, and unfortunately missed Matt’s set. It was clear that the audience loved him though. Meanwhile, I decided to change one of my opening lines and add in a new one too, both of which I thought would offset the misanthropy on which my set is based. The line I changed to put the focus onto me and not the audience – specifically, instead of saying they shouldn’t have come I realised it might work best if I say (based on the professed misanthropy) that it’s me who should have stayed at home. It seemed to work. Onstage, it took a wee while to get going, but once I got onto all the stuff about grossly overused terms in modern parlance people seemed to recognise them, and laughed accordingly. There are two particular words that I seem to hear all the time, and those form the basis of most of this set because it’s hard to NOT hear them all the time. Anyway, I was happy with how it went, apart from a slight falter before the last line of the second bit (a short lapse in memory), but that final line is so strong that it got a round of applause.
I contemplated finishing at that point, on the high, but I hadn’t seen the light signalling I had sixty seconds left and worried I might have done too little. So I threw in a couple of extra lines, nearly saying “I might be under time but this is all I had rehearsed” before catching myself and saying it was “…all I wanted to say” instead – I didn’t want to admit that any of this was rehearsed, and ruin the illusion of spontaneity. I left on another new line, which went okay. I have no idea how long I did, and I now know for next time that I should set the stopwatch on my phone running and leave it on the ledge backstage on my way to the stage. It must have been four and a half minutes or less though, since I didn’t see the warning light.
I came offstage, and met James Kirk as he arrived fresh from The Halt. The Comedy Unit filmed him there tonight for Channel Four, which is testament to how good and busy a gig Malky is running. James won So You Think You’re Funny last year, is just back from Montreal (“Just For Laughs”), and he cracks me up every time. He was down to join Richard Gadd and Matt Winning as the final act of the evening, a spoof rap act called Vocal Point. Quite brilliant, and they will be performing that as the finale to their fringe show in Edinburgh this month. You should definitely try and catch them if you’re in the capital.
I was pleased to find that Frank had enjoyed his first ever visit to a comedy club, and Jon later said he’d “almost died laughing”, so I’m really glad they made it down to see me. We headed up to The Halt after Gavin Webster’s excellent headline set, and managed to catch the end of Obie’s set too. It was a brilliant night, and also might lead to some future gigs for me compering industrial gigs/festivals – which would be great. and different. Time will tell if anything comes of it, but the guys all seem keen. Barry said the folk sitting near him were crying with laughter during my set, and I found it really weird that they all liked me so much – tell me I’m shit, I can deal with that. Tell me I’m good and I have no clue how to react, just kind of take a beamer and go “Are you sure??”
Anyway, things are in the pipeline so we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s the Edinburgh Festival this month, if you care. I really don’t. Probably should, really don’t. I have no love for that city anyway, and least of all at this time of year. Nevertheless, I have some shows lined up – three in one day on the 16th, and one on the 25th. I’ll either try and book more gigs for that day, or use it to go and see some shows myself. That way I only have to go through twice, and can make the most of the time while I’m there.
Here’s the short story “Bampot Central” by the ever-excellent Christopher Brookmyre, which opens with a description of a typical festival encounter. Have fun, next gig is the 16th in Edinburgh – three gigs in one day so that’ll be novel, and interesting. Details to follow. 🙂