This gig featured me doing a surprise guest spot, and it was a surprise to me too.
I’d gone along primarily to see my good friend McGovern, who is keeping a blog detailing the issues he is presently confronting, as his younger brother (to say “wee” brother would be to dismiss the fact that he towers over us) was doing his first ever set. Ross Main was compering in the guise of Dogshit Johnson, adding an air of novelty to the night as it was his first time maintaining the character throughout an MC spot, and ever-amiable current Scottish Comedian of the Year Jamie Dalgleish headlined.
Ross has just won the Scottish heat of the Amused Moose competition. Further to my previous blog, I decided not to compete – the fifteen quid, 45-mile, ninety-minute journey to Edinburgh to perform for possibly just 9o seconds didn’t appeal. Even had I made it to the five-minute stage, or beyond, I think I’d be struggling to draw on material that isn’t based in or geared towards Glasgow. And judging from the list of finalists, I’m not of that calibre yet.
As Dogshit, he introduced the usual house rules (no heckling, no talking) and suggested a few of his own for the acts – no asking girls going into the toilet if it was for a shit, no passing comment on the bar staff as they walked by the stage to get into the main bar: hack tactics that are rarely funny. He asked if anyone in the audience wanted to suggest rules of their own, and after receiving no response I said “no swearing.” I can’t recall seeing an act who didn’t swear, and it’s well known that I’m a serial offender myself, so it was offered with tongue firmly in cheek and in the spirit of making mischief – safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t on and so not subject to those rules. Scott Brown, poised to open, turned round and told me with mock indignation to “fuck off, Jordan you cunt.” Haha, mission accomplished.
One of the regulars then announced he’d like to hear only three rape jokes in the course of the evening, which Ross took in stride by charging him with keeping count, and said that he would be doing one of the allotted three later on – leaving room for only two. After some nice wordplay to get the crowd warmed up, he brought Scott on.
The legendary/notorious/infamous Jim Hobbit followed, making an impromptu appearance due to a no-show. He was the deserving winner of the last Car Crash Comedy night, and his line about “living in a Haunted Donkey Shed” never fails to make me howl with laughter. As an abstract concept, it is funny: he maintains that it is based on a real event, though, and that gets me every time. He embellished the story, performing a breathtaking rendition of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” in the manner of a Tudor ghost. Truly, the Hobbit is an experience, and someone I never tire of seeing.
Robert McGovern was unexpectedly confident and consistently funny for someone doing their first ever spot, and although he had brought his own fan club along to support him (mimicking the initial strategy of his older brother) he had everybody else laughing too. I forget now if there was a fourth act in the first section, and checking the listing hasn’t jogged my memory.
Malky approached me in the break, asking if I wanted to go on after his trademark first-in-the-second-section spot, and of course I agreed straight away. There then followed fifteen minutes of panic as I tried to recall material, having only gigged four times this year and having adopted almost exclusively all-new material. I sat in the main bar and hastily scribbled keywords down on the back of a flier, in the order that I remembered them, omitting the time-change jokes that I used the past twice and incorporating two new lines that came from a conversation last week when a crowd of us went up to see McGovern. I also included my Etta James joke, on the grounds that Hobbit had made a big deal of mentioning her and so it segued in quite nicely, and determined to open with the anti-rape rape joke from my short film.
I paid scant attention to Malky’s set, steeling myself to go on. Ross asked how I wanted introduced, with middle initials or not, and I told him I wasn’t that fussed – just “Jordan” would do, and that’s how Malky lists me on the line-ups anyway. With reference to the last time he introduced me, at the Bier Halle last year, I told him just to call me a massive cunt. In the end, he did both – massive cunt Jordan R.A. Mills.
After my current stock opening line, I launched straight into my anti-rape joke/anti-joke (“number two”, I kept count for an easy laugh). It is lifted from the script of my short film, which has just entered the second phase of editing after I watched the first cut and gave the Production Attic guys some notes. They were in, and I could sense the recognition from them. With frequent, blatant, and unapologetic glances at the back of the flier in my hand, I could also gauge their reaction to the new jokes that had stemmed from our conversation a few days before. I ballsed up my line about the Glasgow landmark, by neglecting to set it up properly, but I was able to start again and still obtain a good laugh. Someone told me afterwards that it was their favourite joke of the night, and that has happened three times on the three occasions I’ve told it – very heartening that it is appreciated to such a degree. Other new bits flowed reasonably well, and although it’s not my usual closer I was able to bail on one of my new anecdotes – conscious of not over-running and satisified that it was a natural place to finish. With the exception of one ill-judged in-joke, which I know better than to resort to and which bypassed even the people in on it, I felt it went well enough. Certainly considering my lack of preparation. It also dawned on me to recognise that my “no swearing” rule had seen me hoist by my own petard.
Richard Brown followed me with lots of great new one-liners, and then David Blair closed the second section with a dissection of nostalgia reminiscent of Stewart Lee’s recent works. Jamie Dalgleish rounded off the show with a set that was largely new to me, and which I presume made up part of his sold-out Comedy Festival shows. It was a rare night when every single act on was watchable, entertaining, and funny – not a bad set among them. Being a new act night, where people are free to get up and have their first ever go, it doesn’t always flow as smoothly or as funnily as it did tonight.
I’m gigging this Saturday night (21st) in the Flying Duck, as part of Ginger Ale Comedy – an offshoot of “Aberdeen vs Glasgow vs The World” – entry is £5/3 on the door, for a line-up of ten comedians. I’m looking forward to seeing Paul McDaniel and Sandy Boutell again – one an absurdist philosopher and poet, the other exploring his likeness and ties to an Irish politician. There’s also Struan Logan, who has some of my favourite one-liners, and a whole host of names unfamiliar to me, finishing with a game show of some description.
On Tuesday 1st May I will be compering the Halt myself, having learned from last time, and my plan is just to be genial and hopefully entertaining if not necessarily funny – funny is the duty of the comedians on the bill. I forget all of the line-up, but I know my friends Sara Hunter and McGovern are both on, with Sarah Cassidy headlining.
Finally, with my short film fast approaching completion (I suspect it will be hailed as satire or condemned as arrogance, or maybe just acknowledged as valid), I’ll leave you with another short that the Production Attic made. They were hired to make a series of online adverts, with the proviso that one should generate publicity in the form of complaints. The company then chickened out of actually releasing the uncut version, owing to the extremely graphic violence depicted – when I first saw it, I was taken aback with how brutal it is. Very funny, especially if you know that it stars Malky and his son Murdo, but undeniably brutal. With all branding removed, you can now see for yourself. Enjoy.