It’s been a mental week. It all started on Monday, which seems an appropriate place to begin, with a trip to Edinburgh to see author Christopher Brookmyre hosting the recording of a radio interview with, as it turned out, Alexei Sayle. It was pretty cool to see him interviewed, having a familiarity with his appearances in both The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents. He mentioned the fact that his two solo shows were written/co-written by David Renwick (prior to One Foot In The Grave) and Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews (prior to Father Ted). The other thing he said which struck a chord with me is “There’s a rumour that the Great Wall of China was built by a writer with a deadline.” From my own limited experience, it seems feasible.
Outside, I was recognised by a girl who’d been at my “Freesome” gig the week before – it’s a bit crazy, people saying “I’ve seen you do comedy”, and if I can somehow attain the fortune without the fame I’ll be quite happy with that. I wish I could find the footage of Morecambe and Wise discussing fame, which runs something like this:
Ernie: You know you’re famous when you get recognised in the street.
Eric: My dustman’s famous, I recognise him in the street.
Tuesday was a trip to the Halt, busy despite the Festival being on, and I tried and failed to blag the compere spot for the evening. Alan Scott headlined, being the only quarter of The Impenetrable Click not in Edinburgh. I’m doing ten minutes of “experimental comedy” at their Glasgow show on the 26th of September. I suggest you don’t miss it, it’s going to be a bit different. Having stayed up until 6am drinking, Wednesday was mostly a write-off, so we’ll skip that and get to Thursday and the gig.
I went through early enough to meet up with Pavement Sarah and head up to see the lunchtime showcase featuring Eddie Cassidy, Steven Halcrow, Ross Main, and Darren Connell. They were playing a windowless room roughly the size of my thumbnail and, although it was 1pm and only half full, the audience were “the best I’ve played to in a month” (Ross) and one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. Halcrow compered, asking if this gig would be in my blog and jokingly telling the crowd “Jordan writes a blog about his gigs, they’re about ten pages long so if you’ve ever got a week off work you should read them.” I’m the first to admit that I’m a wordy cunt, and just figure if you want to read these you will, and if you don’t you won’t – this is still predominantly my own personal record anyway. Though if you read it, and enjoy it, I’m happy. Even if it does take you a week. 🙂
I’d wanted to see their show anyway, knowing it would be good, but I also wanted to wish Connell well before his evening gig, the final of the acclaimed “So You Think You’re Funny?” competition. Judged by Lee Mack, he eventually went unplaced, which puts him in the same position as Kevin Bridges, John Bishop, and countless other now-household names. Not bad company to keep. I had a conversation at my own gig about whether that’s the competition that you can only enter once, and I think it must be – otherwise they’d call it “So You Still Think You’re Funny?”
My gig was in a different room at the Three Sisters, a bigger room with a better layout and its own bar. Chris Stephen set it up, booking the acts and promoting it but getting other people in to compere and perform. It has been filling up nicely, and today was no different. Despite a slow start, by the time we opened the room was pretty full – forty people or so, all in a fine mood. Scott Horner compered, his last gig before he goes back to America, and the format runs: three acts, game to decide which region “wins”, three more acts.
The opening half saw two comedians I wasn’t familiar with, and Adam Struth. It was great to hear his set go down so well – I associate it with the Victoria Bar, which was never as appreciative (or as full). I was on straight after the game, which made me realise I would have to play it in character – there’s no way I could go out and be my normal, jovial, piss-taking self and then return seconds later saying I hate people – it wouldn’t wash. “You don’t hate people, you were just out here having a laugh and a joke.” I warned Chris of this in advance, not knowing exactly what I would say but aware I’d have to be more confrontational.
We’d been informed beforehand that, for our game of Countdown, there were only three vowels and six consonants, and not to pick any other combination. I figured this knowledge might come in useful when ripping the piss. As it was, it went “alphabetically” to pick letters and so only one person got the chance to do so. The letters were an anagram of the word “Shitfaced”, and after the customary thirty seconds we all revealed our answers. “Ditches” was the first, and best. Ed Whitley had “Fit”, clearly thinking along my lines of being deliberately bad for comic effect. I was in the middle, representing Glasgow, and – in character – said “Fight, spelled F-I-H-T. And if you have a problem with that I’ll fucking take you.” This got a huge laugh, which was far better than actually playing the game seriously.
The deciding factor was a conundrum, “THEYWILDE,” which nobody got. Even though the clue was given that it’s a name. Ed Whitley didn’t recognise the letters that make up his own name though, and the game was awarded to Aberdeen for making the longest word in the letters game. We left the stage, and I waited behind the curtain for my imminent return.
My set went really well, the audience were clearly all up for laughing and there weren’t any points when I felt I fell flat. Introducing the Gladiators stuff there was a slight lull but I think I created that myself by saying, when there was no hint of recognition, that “it could be a long couple of minutes.” It wasn’t, and they laughed at that too. I saw my warning light being flashed a couple of jokes before the end of ym set, so I got the timing spot on too. Really happy with this gig and how it went, and while this is my blog and I could tell you I’m always brilliant, I do try to be reasonably objective about my own performance. I got applause at the end of the “Random” bit, which I can almost bank on now, and a huge round of applause at the end of my set. And not just because I’d finished and was leaving.
Debby Barry followed me, doing well in spite of the nerves she had backstage, and Ed closed the show with his trombone, his jokes, and his endless enthusiasm. It was a great gig for all of us, and testament to Chris that he managed to get a decent venue and pull in a good crowd. I like to think we contributed to the four-star review the show got, although I’m told it was actually reviewed over two days and all the comedians mentioned have been attributed the wrong names.
I’d had a text during the day offering me a second gig, back at “Freesome” in the Jekyll & Hyde, and so Ed, Debby and I set off sharpish. You can read about it next.