I had been booked to do one of the “best of” showcases, performing at the regular Pop-Up Comedy night that runs every Tuesday in The Halt Bar. Thanks to insomnia, various personal fights, and other things on my mind, I was unable to do as much preparation as I would have liked.
I was on third or fourth in the first section, introduced by Chris Henry as he set the microphone stand to its lowest height while explaining that the next act was very short. This was an hilarious joke on his part, as I stand about 6′ 4″ or 6′ 5″ in the boots I was wearing. It didn’t bother me, though, as my first action is always to remove the mic from the stand and deposit the stand somewhere behind me for the duration. Well, that is usually how it goes…
Tonight, I lifted the mic from the stand, not realising that said boots were resting on the cable. Thus, the mic was pulled from my grasp and gravity took over, causing it to fall to the floor with the highly-audible amplified clunk that you would expect. I just stood there, looking down at it in disdain, resigned to the fact it had happened in a kind of “of course the mic is on the floor, what else was gonna happen?!” way. Before I had, or took, the chance to act, my friend Matthew (sitting in the front row) had leant forward, picked it up, and offered it to me. I took it and thanked him.
It was the current mix of new material and new jokes inserted into older bits, which can loosely be summarised as being about Running and Relationships. The latter incorporates the “fish” bit that I used in my earliest sets, except I think it was tonight that I abandoned the usual punchline and ended it early by saying that I’d like to fuck Jaws and was off to take up the challenge and find myself a shark. Overall, it went okay and while I still can’t remember the precise running order of gags, I think I’m getting there. I just need more practice.
As for other acts, I forget the line-up now but I remember that John Walker has a nice new bit about Ketamine. Sandy Boutell, already one of my favourite acts for his elaborate set-ups, took to th stage with a bag of flour, scooped handfuls of it into his beard, and proceeded to do one of the funniest character acts I’ve seen in a while. Totally unexpected, and well-executed.
Jim Hobbit had a great gig, his legendary line “what’s a parody?” now getting the required response from well over half of the audience. His new kazoo intro, a song about Tory cuts (“Take My Bread Away”), foreshadowed his appearance in the march to and protest at George Square a few days later. I was also able to see Thomas Stott’s set about The Crystal Maze, which I had missed at my previous gig. I pre-empted the final pay-off but otherwise enjoyed the tale that he spins. He wraps it up well, I just guessed the final punchline before he got there. The audience loved it.
Davey Connor headlined. He is good, but I have never been a big fan of his material, being ridiculously hard to please when it comes to comedy. It was always this way, and moreso now that stand-up comedy has deluged us all in recent years while I have simultaneously been experimenting with it myself. That said, Davey had a new twenty minutes to try out, and it was brilliant – very, very funny and I enjoyed it a lot. So that was a pleasant surprise, and I’d happily see him again.
There’s not much else to add – it was a busy night. The Halt always feels busy now it has been taken over by new management, but I think that is because they have replaced all the low, compact barstools with all kinds of mismatched chairs and other furniture. Suddenly the place is so full of bulky furniture that there is little room to maneouvre, even on the quieter nights. As Nev had said in character the week before “The world needs change, but much like the Halt Bar, not all change is good.”
Chris Stephen approached me and asked if I was free on Sunday to participate in his “Round The Clock Comedy” venture. I reluctantly agreed, asking if he wanted me to do five or ten. He was looking for a host. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for comedy, which I felt I had accurately demonstrated on stage this evening, I decided it would be good to try and push myself to do something different. It has been about a year since I last compered a gig, but I agreed. Maybe if I vary what I do I will find a way to enjoy myself more in the process.