My friend Obie has recently started up a new comedy night at this pub, the Che Que Bo, which was formerly known as The Goat. It runs on a Wednesday evening at about 8.30pm, and he has been booking semi-established open spots as well as a decent headliner (this week, Mikey Adams.)
I have been along every week so far, trying to generate (or at least show) support for a new gig. There are very few gigs in this city at the moment, and even fewer that start up and survive, and so I always try and help with new endeavours in the hope that they will succeed. Weekly gigs are largely limited to Red Raw at The Stand on a Tuesday (with its several-months-long waiting list), Pop-Up Comedy at The Halt that same evening, and Vespbar on a Wednesday. There are occasional gigs at Dram, Box, The Griffin, The Admiral Bar, The Flying Duck, and run by Ginger Ale Comedy, but as these aren’t weekly it can be hard to keep track of what’s on when.
This was the first week that I wasn’t going to bother heading down, having been at the past three or four gigs, as I had commitments most other nights this week and had provisionally arranged to meet a friend for a much-needed catch-up. She wanted to meet later in the evening, though, and as Graham Mackie was guest compering I decided to go along for a bit.
Arriving about 9pm, I headed up to the mezzanine to find everyone just sitting around a couple of tables. I said my hellos and asked if this was “all acts.” It was. Nobody had turned up to watch, just the performers and other comedians supporting the gig and/or looking to get booked in future. The owner was joined by three of his friends, and it was agreed that the show would go ahead in a very laidback manner.
Mackie spoke to a few folk, skillfully managing to draw laughs from the small crowd. He began bringing acts to the stage by how close they were sitting to the performing area, starting with Ray Zambino. King Rizzler and Zuma were on, their double act failing to take off in front of a smaller crowd, a crowd principally made up of comedians, and full of people who have seen their act already. It was the first time I have seen them break character, which was funny in itself, but they work best with a larger crowd and in front of people who don’t know what to expect.
Other acts treated it as a workshop, casually going through their set and stopping to enquire about posture, delivery, mic stand positioning, and to take other tips. One of the owner’s friends, having had witty responses to Mackie’s questions, was given his first ever gig, using it to have a short but amusing rant. An audience finally arrived, in the form of a French girl and her male (I think German) friend. They were invited to select which comedian would come up next, and my name was included. I had only gone along to support, but I figured it would be a good chance to find out how much of the set I could remember without having a list of keywords on my hand.
Having been selected, I stepped up to the mic. I began with the “running” stuff, looking at a sea of faces who have mostly heard it already. That was when I just abandoned it and started ad-libbing. I related the concerns I had had, about which point do you decide to stop running and turn round to run home? Throwaway lines about being worried about what would happen when I reached the coast, and a stated wish that I had kept running “because then I wouldn’t be here, and that would be better for all of us.”
I abandoned my set after that, instead talking about a tweet I had posted to Twitter that was then retweeted by an MSP. This was unexpected, to say the least, and the Daily Record then ran an article about it. It was in that day’s paper, as I recall, and so I ended up just relating events – punctuated with laughter. I later wrote this blog about it.
With the realisation that I had stepped onto the stage and talked about Twitter posts, retweets, and resultant controversy, and knowing I was playing to a crowd who would get the in-joke, I said “fuck, I’ve turned into Malky.” I don’t like making cheap gags like that when he’s not there (although when he is there, it’s fair game.) I defend Malky a lot, and the reason he talks about the week’s events every Tuesday is that if he did material he’d be constantly selling it to the same audience. That is the very same reason I detoured tonight, because I knew I wouldn’t get much laughter from people familiar with my set.
Afterwards, it was decided that there would be a break. I showed a couple of folk the article in question (photographed and saved on my phone), and then left to meet my friend. On the way out, I noticed both audience members leaving too. The gig would finish as it began, directed at other acts, the owner, and his pals.
I quite enjoyed being able to just talk freely rather than with the constraints that come from having a series of one-liners in a prescribed order, and am glad that this gig gave me the freedom to do that. If I hadn’t tried it, I would just have been rehearsing the material for my next gig. This way, I got some laughs and did something different.