I wrote a line in reference to tonight’s set that I’ll be able to use at future gigs – I did comedy to a silence so vast, it echoed. That’s a lot of silence.
Sometime after I introduced the bands at the Combichrist gig (Gig 37, if you want to read that essay), I approached Uberbyte about their contacts at an industrial festival. I’ve known the guys (and girl) since way back when they first played Scotland, opening for Panzer AG in Edinburgh, and have seen them at subsequent gigs since – both on the bill, and in the audience at numerous other shows (such as English Combichrist ones). I was, on the back of my enquiry, invited to open for them at their debut headline show in Glasgow. When Barry, the local promoter, brought the London promoters along to The Stand to see me, a few months back, he agreed to put me on the bill.
I realised that I’d have to win the crowd over, and relied heavily on existing, honed material, interspersed with some relevant asides and the first airing of my “Glasgow Music” bit. I edited out the more contentious stuff – fish fucking and hating people – as I was aware I’d have to try and draw people in rather than pretending (and probably succeeding) in driving them away. The trick to appearing confident, I believe, is to kid yourself on that you ARE confident, and act accordingly. I expected to play to a handful of people at the front of the stage, but the gig was in the lower room at the Classic Grand and – with no barrier at the front of the stage – people are inclined to hang back in the bar area and only come forward when there is a band on.
Having arrived late afternoon and watched Uberbyte soundcheck, I was issued with an AAA pass that described me as an “Artist” and which made me feel like an impostor. I find it quite funny that, having tried making music five years ago under the moniker AudioTwat, now that I’ve given up on that to focus on the comedy that was always a part of it I find myself being added to bills I could never have dared dream of. I requested, and was set up with, my own microphone, which ensured that I didn’t have to interfere with the bands’ equipment in any way. It also meant that it could be left set at an appropriate level for my voice, given that I didn’t need to be heard over any instruments. With doors open and my set prepared, I went onstage prior to the first band. In hindsight, I should maybe have tried to entice people to come down to the front of the stage (they were all dotted around the sides of the room, or standing on the raised floor at the back), but just cos you kid on you’re confident onstage doesn’t necessarily mean you are. Live and learn. I have my first comedy compering slot on the 1st of November, and will hopefully start crafting the skill.
Introducing myself as “a comedian you’ve never heard of”, I stepped onstage and did a short set – a minute, maybe two, using the same pace of delivery as I do in comedy gigs, to general apathy. Those who listened, and maybe even laughed, didn’t laugh loud enough to encourage the bar-chatterers to stop and pay attention. Again, that could be my fault more than anything else. This audience weren’t expecting comedy, and whereas you can tune out and chat over background music, open mic acts, bands who don’t interest you, comedy relies on undivided interest to work. Bedlam Brian was kind enough to agree to record and upload my sets for me, and so hopefully I’ll be able to include video of all three spots in due course.
While first band The.Invalid took the stage, I headed to the backstage area to go over my second set. My friend Sarah had agreed to come along for moral support, and we sat chatting to the band and their significant others, cracking jokes and having a rare old time. Uberbyte are renowned for their sense of humour, and refusal to follow the “scene” herd musically, and it was great fun to just sit and laugh with them, while finding out how their new album has been received and how the tour is going.
Embracing the lacklustre reaction I’d received previously, I decided to just enjoy myself regardless and introduced myself for my second set: “please welcome back to the stage the comedian who failed to make you laugh first time round.” This was the reappearance of my “cunt” material, which has been relegated from my comedy scene sets due to its popularity as a topic amongst most other Scottish comedians. It is good for the music gigs though, especially music gigs where nobody cares. I followed that with new but tried-in-various-conversations material about Glasgow’s contribution to the international music scene. With tongue firmly in cheek. Surgyn were on second, a band from Dundee who have opened many gigs here and whose star is presently rising sharply.
By the time of my third set I was happy to acknowledge my failings, introducing myself as “going for the hat-trick of indifference.” This time, there was a small semi-circle of people on the dancefloor in front of the stage, two deep, and I managed to get some laughs with my ever-favourite “Gladiators” bit. With reference to the song “135,335”, I mentioned that Uberbyte are the only band I know who can get people dancing to the death toll of the Iraqi war, and (having ascertained that the band planned to use intro music) I led into that with a relevant line I have about Charlie Sheen – “When he says he’s on a drug called Charlie Sheen, I think he might be half right.”
The band played a great set, getting a now-sizeable crowd dancing for the full hour and proclaiming, as ever, that Glasgow is their favourite audience. We sat in the club afterwards finishing their rider (provision of alcohol) and chatting away, before they gradually began peeling off to their hotel and we left too.
It was a brilliant night, I’d have been there to see the band anyway but getting the chance to catch up and do some comedy were added bonuses. It might have worked better (for me) if the gig had been advertised as having a “compere” so people expected comedy – but at the same time, I got a much warmer reaction in London opening for a similar demographic (albeit I played there to an audience about nine times larger) and that wasn’t advertised in advance either. It will be interesting to see, if it happens again, how it compares to tonight’s gig, and – if I’m ever playing the bigger venue up the stairs – if that has any bearing either. I very much enjoyed myself though, a few people came out of their way to compliment me and ask how it compared to comedy gigs, and I’ve asked Barry to let me know what feedback, if any, he gets from punters – however negative, or not.
I’ve got four gigs in three days, and am writing this having just done the second. I’ll write the blog about that next, and am playing tomorrow (Tuesday 27th) at both The Halt (8.30pm, free entry) and The Stand (7.30pm, £2, Frankie Boyle headlined last week – it’ll sell out.) Come along if you’re in the area.