This was a last-minute gig, which I was offered about two hours before it was due to start. I accepted immediately, locating the document on my computer that contains my most recent set. Although provisionally a new material night for established (or at least more-experienced) comedians, I’ve only done half a dozen gigs this year, if that, and so it still falls into that category.
I toyed briefly with my original intention, was I offered a spot at this night, which was to relate an old anecdote which I think might have merit. As an idea, that is – as a story about myself there is very little meritable about it, since it relates to an incident that most people would choose to forget. It has a high disgust factor though, which might be funny to people glad that it didn’t involve them. It involves alcohol, vomit, and a requirement for a change of clothes. I’m not particularly proud of that drunken episode, and as it conjures a fairly visual image of me it’s one I am as-yet uncommitted to sharing from behind a microphone.
I previously planned to tell this anecdote at a Bier Halle gig a year ago, but declined that night as people were eating pizza and it seemed a little inconsiderate to make them think of sick while they were having dinner. It occurred to me, in advance, that tonight’s venue also sells pizza to the comedy punters, and so I dropped the idea. In truth, I was a little lacking in enthusiasm for this gig, with it being short notice and with me being out of practice, but also because I was at a family funeral on Friday and am going to a close family friend’s next week. It also happened to be today that Ray Bradbury died, and that man was such a poet, such a gentleman and inspiration. “Fahrenheit 451” is one of my favourite books of all time, and when I had to do a personal project as the Scenic Art element of my theatre degree, it was an enlarged rendition of the front cover that I painted. It hung on the wall of my previous flat, and would be hanging in this one if there was an appropriate interior wall. It was easier, therefore, to just rattle off a series of rehearsed jokes with the inclusion of two new bits, rather than try and create something from nothing.
The Vespbar comedy is in a small basement, under the pub opposite the Horseshoe Bar on Drury Street. It is right next to Central Station, and the gig runs weekly on a Wednesday, at 8pm and with a £3 entry fee. I say this because it is a good night and a chance to see established acts trying new material for a fraction of the price it would cost to see them on a weekend. Please support local gigs.
With this being Summer and the week of Download and Rock Ness, it was uncharacteristically quiet this evening, with eight or so paying audience members and about the same number of acts. Julia Sutherland is the resident compere and promoter, and as I arrived Keiron Nicholson was just finishing up, ahead of a set from Adam Struth. Keiron was an extra in my short film, and has received excellent peer reviews recently for his set and delivery. Jamie Dalgleish preceded me, still the reigning Scottish Comedian Of The Year, and is as personable as ever.
My set opened with a new joke I wrote a couple of weeks ago while walking home one night. It is a twist on a common experience, with a second twist at the end. I more or less kept my paper full of notes in my hand throughout, explaining the short preparation time and lazily excusing it since it was a night for new material. I tied my recent film jokes in with some older (and forgotten) ones, which half-worked except this was the first time nobody had heard of the film franchise on which the opening jokes are based. I ditched one of them accordingly. A silly joke that gets laughter but also bemusement led me to ad-lib a line that will stay in the set as a follow-up to it. Some more short lines, and a couple of more drawn-out bits followed. I didn’t time it, or record it (though I considered it), but it felt about five minutes. People laughed, which was really all I cared about, and the two new additions seem to work.
The final section was closed by Richard (Andrew?), whom I saw at The Halt recently and enjoyed seeing his set a second time, and Geoff Gawler. Richard complimented me on my t-shirt, being one of about three people so far who are familiar with the Glasgow Hardcore band Broken Oath. You can find out why I always wear one of their shirts by clicking the link at the top of the page.
Steven Halcrow had turned up halfway through, and drunk. He was offered five minutes but declined, on the grounds that it would probably become twenty. When he changed his mind, it was too late, but in closing Julia gave the audience the opportunity to watch a very drunk special guest comedian. They were all agreeable, much to my delight – I’ve said before and will say again that Halcrow is one of the most entertaining, funny, and exciting performers on the circuit just now. He got to the stage, looking like he was swaying slightly, and immediately launched into audience interaction. From the off, it promised to be special, and I pulled out my phone thinking I might surreptitiously film it. Geoff was ahead of me though, literally (being at the table in front of me) and figuratively, since he was already recording. I hope the audio on it came out okay, but I suspect my laughter might have drowned some of it out. It was brilliant, and if the video goes up I’ll link it here.
A quick and quiet night, and a good chance to get my head back in performance mode ahead of this Friday’s compering spot. I’m at The Griffin on Bath Street, opposite The Kings Theatre, from 8pm. Entry is £3 on the door and there’s a line-up of about eight acts. You should come.
Here’s a quote from Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, on the page I opened it at. Written in 1953, it seems to describe modern entertainment systems with some accuracy:
“You can’t argue with the four-wall televisor. Why? The televisor is ‘real.’ It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’ […] Who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlour? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason. But with all my knowledge and scepticism, I have never been able to argue with a one-hundred-piece symphony orchestra, full colour, three-dimensions, and I being in and part of those incredible parlours. As you see, my parlour is nothing but four plaster walls.”
Rest in peace, Mister Bradbury.