“That’s a negative, and right now I need two positives – one to cancel out the negative, and one just so I’ve got a positive.
– Alan Partridge
After the negative that was my trip to Edinburgh at the weekend, tonight I got both my positives in one go. Gary Black got in touch a fortnight ago, out of the blue, to offer Malky and me this gig since our last experience was (in his view) marred by the fact we had to perform in the main bar as the lounge was given over to a “psychic” night for the evening. On arrival, we found that we were sharing a bill with Chris Grady, Mr Harry Garrison, a new guy whose name I forget (I’m appalling with names, but it might be Alan Linsey), with compere Tony Hilton. The room is small but cosy (would have been cosier if they’d put the heating on, mind), and was comparatively busy – maybe thirty folk in. Most of the audience come regularly to this weekly gig, and as a result there is a great sense of camaraderie – banter flies back and forth, everyone is up for a laugh, and the feeling in the room is very upbeat and cheerful. Tony quickly discovered that everyone had already seen him compere a previous gig, but was able to pull the room together just chatting to people with no reliance on material.
After a rowdy and lively opening, Chris Grady went on first. His material is often absurd in its use of language and imagery, and once the crowd got used to his style the laughter flowed readily, and increasingly loudly. He was followed by the man whose name I forget, who also delivered a good set with some nice bits about religion. Both were interrupted (heckled seems too strong a word) by various audience members reacting to their material, in the form of exclamations, conversational responses, and their own one-line additions. It made for a very lively atmosphere, but a predominantly friendly one. Tony, who has adopted the catchphrase “Jokes!”, had it used against him at the break, when he sat down to chat to a few of the punters and managed to knock his pint over and into his lap. All in good fun.
I opened the second section, deciding to use my Holocaust/appearance joke as they seemed warm and receptive. Considering the responses it got at the weekend, it went down well tonight. Everything did, as I also used my “Glasgow Music” bit – since we’re close enough to the city – before doing my Handcuffs bit (I only just realised I forgot to link that into the Broo bit which normally follows, but I did fifteen minutes as it was), and finished with tales of Buxton. This time, I just wrote keywords on my hand and told the stories as I would conversationally, rather than trying to stick to the script I wrote – I feel it comes over better this way. I recorded the audio on my phone, and it’s more or less intelligible. When I can work out how to transfer it to my laptop, convert it to MP3 and stick it on Youtube, I will. I was interrupted a few times, mostly by one woman sitting directly in front of me, and have to admit I’ve never been heckled by someone sticking their tongue out at me before. She was very merry, and laughed so hard at my set that she cried. Not necessarily at any punchlines though, and a couple of times I had to ask if she was just imagining her own end to my jokes and laughing at those instead – since she was laughing in the middle of anecdotal details. A very mental but very fun gig, and reassuring to have such a vibrant response to material that Edinburgh stared at in stoney-faced silence.
Malky followed me, and got to do very little of his material as the audience interaction was so intense. He had a laugh with them, and they reciprocated – at one point, my “heckler” got onstage with him as she returned to her seat with a fresh bottle of wine. He invited her to stay and be the recipient of one of his jokes, at the end of which (“swallow”) she took the mic from him and deep-throated it. A charming woman, and a good-natured drunk.
Harry Garrison rounded the evening off with some musical comedy, and he is sufficiently competent that he has made it to the final of the national Loaded Laftas competition next week. Malky was driving and had to get back to Glasgow though, and so we left shortly after he had taken the stage. It was a great night, really good fun for both acts and crowd, and while a bit anarchic and chaotic there was a brilliant vibe that left everybody smiling and happy. Definitely the best pick-me-up I could have hoped for, and although it’s not the easiest gig to get to if you don’t drive it is well worth the trip.
I did fifteen minutes tonight, and at my next gig I’ve to do ten – I’ll need to decide what to leave out, as over-running is not an option. I’ll be at the Buff Club this Sunday, a free gig that has been going from strength to strength these past two months, along with four other established acts/open spots and a headliner all doing new material. Starts at 8.30pm sharp, if you’re in the vicinity, and it’s frequently good. After that, I’m in Falkirk in a fortnight and then at The Halt on the 20th – and that’s it for the year. If I can figure out how to upload the audio from these past three gigs as mp3s I’ll do that, meanwhile here’s some music I made back in 2006 under the name AudioTwat.