Category Archives: Gong Show

Gig 100: SCOTY Gong Show, Maggie May’s, 4th September 2013

One hundred gigs on the local comedy circuit, albeit with a couple of them a little further away.  Gigs in pubs, clubs, snooker halls, the open air – playing to audiences big and small, to music audiences, to no audience. I’ve had fun and learned a lot. One of the things I’ve learned is that I have no desire to pursue stand-up comedy as a hobby.

The obvious question people have asked is: why? Why quit? I’m not enjoying it, is the top reason. I feel I am not contributing anything to a scene already saturated with okay acts. I’m an “okay” act – I’m not brilliant, I’m not dreadful. I have bad gigs, this very blog will document one of them, but I’ve also had some great ones. I could be better, and I could deliberately get better – by being less lazy and actively pursuing gigs across the country and writing in a more disciplined way. It costs money to gig though, and I have very little of that to spare, certainly not to travel miles to play to nobody. I can play to nobody without leaving my front room.

There was a debate recently, about whether free comedy nights devalued paid nights. The stand-out point, for me, was one local promoter saying he would rather see a new act trying new stuff than see some headliner who has done that set a hundred times this year. That’s when I realised – even if I was to be successful, it would be doing something I don’t want to do. When I was fourteen I moved from being on the stage (in amateur youth productions) to working backstage. I had no desire to be an actor, reciting lines in the glare of the spotlight, and found my interest lay backstage. Since then, I have consistently worked backstage in theatre (amateur and professional), studied the technical side of theatre, and graduated to also working behind the scenes in film and television. This is where I am comfortable, involved but out of sight.

The professional comedian has more leeway than an actor, admittedly. He recites from the script he wrote himself, at liberty to play with its structure and deviate from its course as any given audience demands. The two are still closely related in my mind, however, and I saw in that online comment that I would never be prepared to commit myself to that.

I’ve said before, too, that the people who attend gigs – the ones I try hard to make laugh – are the sort of folk I would avoid in the street, be annoyed at in the pub, and despise if I worked with them. Why am I trying to make them laugh, why do I care? I don’t. I know that I can make people laugh in everyday conversation, which may sound arrogant but I think I said at the very start that just about the only sure thing I know about myself is that I can make people laugh. I prefer to do that naturally, rather than standing on a stage reciting jokes.

The most fun I’ve had was the comedy podcast shows I did. There was never an audience, the idea never really took off, and the whole thing petered out. Being part of a “panel” though, able to quickly bounce off others ideas and just talk complete nonsense, was great fun. If I can find some other way to do that, then maybe it will rekindle my interest.

I am sick, too, of seeing the same traits in newcomer after newcomer, the same style evident among several professional comics too. I am very hard to please, and – having started because I adored stand-up – I have stopped watching it altogether. So, it is time for a break. If the notion takes me I can always return but, until then, there is no shortage of other capable acts to entertain you. Please keep going to local gigs and supporting the scene – it’s not for me, but there’s plenty of good stuff out there.

And so, the SCOTY Gong Show. I was on 28th of twenty-eight. After a painful couple of hours, the audience were reminded that they could go home after the last act. I had forfeited my minute’s grace period by arriving late, and so they had free rein to get rid of me immediately. Pre-empted by the bitch in the box and the cunt in the corner (pro acts Ray Bradshaw and Graham Mackie), who lambasted me in advance on account of my middle initials – two years after I dropped whatever material I had written about the fact I use them – I was off to a slow start. Having managed to switch the mic off before beginning, and taking pelters for it, I was gonged off rapidly. I lasted forty-seven seconds, and as Mackie added, “forty-six too long.”

I had considered trying to last the shortest time, just for a laugh, but was talked into attempting to do my full set. By the time I got onstage I was past caring. I made it into the car-crash compilation, at least. If you want to see a video that makes me cringe, it’s posted below – I’m sixteen minutes in. It’s not much of a swan song.

I have friends on the circuit, and still turn up to the occasional gig. Just don’t expect to see me on a stage anytime soon, unless I am sweeping it.

See you somewhere, sometime.




Gig 81: Gong Show, The State Bar, 12th January 2013

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.

Gig 3: SCOTY Gong Show, The Ivory, 28th Nov 2010

Stage time is notoriously hard to come by, and with reference to advice on the Scottish Comedy Forum, I’ve decided to not turn down any gig. So, when the Scottish Comedian of the Year Gong Show announced it was open for entries, I put my name forward. The premise is simple enough, and follows the format of what constituted primetime television entertainment in the Seventies: every act gets a minute’s grace, and in the four minutes after that he can be gonged off at any point if two of the three audience gong cards are held aloft.

I arrived first, having braved the snow in the hope that the weather would have put off some of the competition. Of course, eleven other comics all turned up with the same hope. Some faces I knew, some I had seen or spoken to previously, but this was the first chance I had to spend some time in ‘comedian’s corner’ with them, waiting to go on. And therefore, also the first time some of them got to see me perform. I say perform…

In truth, I was up sixth or seventh (names were drawn from a hat to establish the running order), and got maybe five or six jokes out before the gong came. I lasted, if memory serves, one minute and five seconds. But, for all that, I was happy that I’d managed half a dozen laughs in that time, and Alan Anderson (the organiser and compere) had the decency to take the heat off by explaining to the audience after my set that it “was only my third or fourth gig”.

I’d deliberately cut the bulk of my “middle initials” bit, and thought about rearranging the order of my material – should I do the one-liners first, but maybe lose them after my minute’s grace? Or do the longer stuff first before they got the chance to gong me, but then maybe lose them before I got as far as the one-liners? In the end, I did as much of my set as I could in the same order as I did at The Buff Club a few days previously, because these things are impossible to predict anyway so I figured I’d stick to what I know. And ultimately, I was only doing it for the experience.

So I haven’t dwelled on it too much, I got some decent laughs and some stage time, met some people and some people met me, and saw some funny comedy. Ed Cassidy went through, as did YouTube sensation The Wee Man – both lasted the full five minutes, and in the cheer-off it was impossible to gauge an outright winner. I was glad to see Richard Gadd and Asim Ali again, both of them entertain me greatly, and I very much enjoy Ross Main’s “Dave Reaper” character/song. It was also good to put faces to names I know from the Scottish Comedy Forum, and so overall I’m glad I took part. Good luck to all the contenders in this week’s final.

My first foray into the world of the blog.

Hello, come in and sit down, put your feet up. Can I get you anything, a tea or coffee maybe? Make yourself at home while I put the kettle on.

I’m Jordan, and I recently started doing stand-up comedy. I had my fourth gig last night, and am quite enjoying myself. Anyway, I thought I’d start a blog and write about how it’s going, in case anyone anywhere is even vaguely interested. So far, I’ve performed my five minute set at The Halt Bar and The Buff Club, been gonged off after 1m05s at the Scottish Comedian of the Year Gong Show, and played to an indifferent crowd in the infamous Victoria Bar. Videos of my first and latest sets exist, but I’ll link to those in due course.

For now, I’m off to find out if people ‘friend’ you on here, or ‘follow’ you, or if there’s any way to work out if anyone is actually reading anything I write. In the meantime, feel free to say hello and offer any helpful hints or tips you think of – this is a new world for me.