This was my first gig of the year, and the first in several months. I drew together the best of my jokes, that I enjoy telling, and this included a revisiting of material written for my first ever gigs, two years ago. I partly took this gig in the hope that some of my friends would come along, and deliberately resurrected the bits I like best, rather than purely settling for including the newer bits. Fifteen of the twenty-five attendant acts beat the gong – that is, lasted five minutes rather than being canned by the audience at or just after two – but I wasn’t one of them.
When I came to write this blog, I was so disillusioned that I didn’t know where to begin. I felt like I should just call it a day, and be done with the whole “comedy” thing – and then it struck me that I could use this as an opportunity to Rick-roll everybody. I’m not one for propagating memes, and am generally ignorant of them and unmoved by those I see, but the thought of suckering everyone in – on the back of claims that I was quitting with immediate effect – was too irresistable. The prospect made me laugh aloud, filling me with a joy that was sorely lacking from any of my recent gigs. My apologies if you fell for it, I did it for my own amusement and it very much amused me.
Writing this retrospectively, with four gigs to now catch up on (having first lost interest for performing, I have since misplaced my enthusiasm for writing), it should be easier to be brief. Graham Mackie hosted the Gong Show, a new monthly event at The State Bar which has been attended by sell-out crowds this year. With the bar packed, and a bill that was equally busy, there was a lot of comedy to get through.
The audience were so friendly and receptive, the majority of acts made it past the two minutes grace period and lasted the maximum five minutes. Paul McDaniel was one of the first on, and the eventual winner (a prize he shared with joint winner Anna Devitt.)
One of my friends had joked that he expected to last “two minutes five seconds” and then exceeded his own expectation by lasting a full second longer than that. While his material is not particularly to my taste (I am very hard to please, due in part to the sheer amount of comedy I have watched over the years) he has an assured delivery, one of the few open spots (read: newcomers) who doesn’t “umm” and “ah” his way through his set. When he gets to do his full set, at least.
With so many acts on the bill and many lasting the full time, I was placed in the final section – late enough in the evening that the friends who came to support me instead had to bail for their last bus prior to me taking the stage. They didn’t miss much.
The act before me barely made it to two minutes before the audience chucked him. Almost immediately running out of the door to catch his last train home, he unfortunately added insult to injury by tripping on the stairs as he exited. I felt for him. It is one thing to have a bad gig with the misery that follows, without also suffering the indignity of a faceplant – in front of the audience who didn’t find you funny until you inadvertently contributed unplanned slapstick to the evening.
My set, carefully chosen to include my favourite jokes, ones that have worked well previously or that I enjoy telling, was not to the taste of this audience. Perhaps it was fatigue setting in, with so many acts before me, or tiredness from the lateness of the hour. Possibly it was my opening “Jesus” joke and the disapproving collective intake of breath it elicited. Whatever the cause, I made it to the end of the minimum time and that was it.
I was promptly followed by eventual winner Anna Devitt (writing this at the end of March 2013, she has just been awarded Best New Scottish Comedian at the Scottish Variety Awards), and then by regular Stand acts Mikey Adams, Scott Agnew, and The Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III. As if to illustrate the length of the show – exceptional value for money, it should be noted – last orders came ten minutes before the show finished.
A busy night, and a popular one given the crowds at subsequent shows there, but a demoralising gig for me given the effort I had put into assembling what I considered to be a varied and enjoyable set.