I’ve been averaging about five hours sleep a night for a couple of weeks, and as well as organising the filming of my short script I’m still hopelessly tied up with sorting the fallout from those fifteen fucking days I worked for the Royal Mail prior to Christmas. I’ve actually set up a companion blog just to document the futile absurdity of it all, mostly so I can publish publicly the letter of complaint I wrote to the recruitment agency.
Having spent the day exausting myself with take after take of talking, with some set dressing thrown in, and which I found far more knackering than I ever anticipated, I jettisoned all hope of doing new material that night. I left the pub about 6pm, and was in the house for no more than an hour before it was time to return. Given that I’d spent half the afternoon recording the dialogue, in sections because I couldn’t recite it in a oner, I found that I knew it well enough (without the pressure of a boom in front of me) to do it as a real set – albeit that I had to write keywords on my hand in order to get the order right.
I recognised very few of the names in the line-up, and there were only two or three comedians down to watch that weren’t performing. Everyone else seems to be busy writing or previewing their shows for the Comedy Festival. I just don’t care this year – having gigged just twice so far, I’m not missing it like I thought I would. Although maybe that’s just because I have been utterly drained by the fuckwits who govern us, their rules, and the consequences of taking pointless short-term employment. Anyway, the pub was pleasantly full, and remained so throughout – latterly, some people have been leaving en masse during the breaks. Maybe they’re getting jaded with it week in, week out. I know I was, that’s why I had to get away from it for a month or two at the end of last year, and now try to alternate between going there and The Stand.
Malky put me on in the second half, making me glad I’d sank my third kid-on Red Bull of the day (same basic product, different brand), and the night was the usual hearty mix of good, not bad, and nervous newcomers. I missed a couple of the acts, running through my set in my head outside as I had decided that I didn’t want to break character if I faltered. During the day, it had been easy to stop mid-sentence and go again from the top, but I wanted to try and do the gig as a gig, using only the scripted dialogue.
Hobbit was on, and I remembered my new phone can handle video so I recorded his set as he always cracks me up. I’ve not watched it back yet, but if the audio is okay I’ll put it online for him. David Blair did a really good set, and has improved since I first saw him way back when I was starting out.
With reference to my film, which will make sense once you see it, I once admitted to a pro act, who watched one of my videos, that I knew the particular line I was treading in that set had been worn before me. Her response was to tell me, especially since I already knew it was a common subject, to either drop it and do something different or “get off the circuit and give someone else a chance”. Which might seem like harsh words, but I happened to agree and had already planned to can that material anyway. Having been on the circuit for eighteen months now, and discovered how valuable stage-time is, that’s the advice I’d give anyone wanting to start out – do something different, or don’t bother.
As an example, there was a young guy at The Stand a couple of weeks back, whose material was instantly recognisable as Billy Connolly’s. He mauled a bit from the Billy And Albert DVD, copying it but not reciting it verbatim, and so he managed to both plagiarise material and deliver it with no skill or nuances, and thus removed all humour from it. It was painful viewing.
We – Malky compering, and I – didn’t let on to the audience in advance that I was doing a set that was originally a character act, of sorts. I changed the delivery to try and elicit real laughs, unable to rely on the scripted ones, and although I had to keep checking my hand to read reminders of the next bit, I managed to not break character once. What I found, and which is both interesting and helpful, is that by learning the script fully and properly, I didn’t swear at all during my set. Usually I use it as verbal punctuation far too readily, and it’s good to realise that I can break that habit if I try.
People laughed, which was reassuring. The inflection and delivery in the film is different, but hopefully it will still be funny and just enhanced by the additional visual material that filming allowed. Malky thought I should have done it in character – wearing the “costume” I had for the shoot and not my normal everyday clothes – and said the comedians had been laughing louder than everyone else. This gives me further hope that the video will go viral, because I’m certain it will appeal to a number of people on a couple of different levels. I can’t say much more than that, for fear that someone will pre-empt me by doing something similar.
Kalonde headlined, half of the Wasasa comedy group that play The Halt on a Sunday night once a month. I’d seen his brother Katai a few times, and both are very funny. Both grew up here and have strong Glasgow accents, which you wouldn’t expect from looking at them, and they use this in their comedy to their advantage. Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance, they are extremely likeable on stage and have some killer material that tonight had the packed bar in uproar.
It was a good night, and is on every Tuesday, with free entry. Definitely the best place to see brand new acts taking their first steps, in amongst people who have been going longer and always with a headline act to round the evening off.
No idea when my next gig is, sometime towards the end of the month I think. I’ve got new stuff I want to try but it needs worked up first, it’s in its infancy just now. The Comedy Festival is this month too, and with the exception of Malky’s show, which I’ll go to to support him, being skint means my only plans are to see Ross Main as Dogshit Johnson – a brilliantly funny musical character act – and Andrew Learmonth, whose description of his show as “Self-indulgent pish” is the most honest synopsis I’ve ever read. I look forward to seeing both.