I really want to announce my plan to make my 100th gig – if not my last – then definitely the last one I will blog about.
I worry, though, that such a decision will be enforced upon me in a permanent way. We all remember Father Ted, and how Dermot Morgan decided to make series three the end. He dropped dead within hours of shooting the final scenes, ensuring in a sadly infinite way that it was to be his last show.
I want to keep writing jokes, and no doubt will. I would like to get paid for writing, and preferably for writing comedy, but I can take or leave the standing on stages trying to engage with small crowds of people I would happily ignore in almost any other circumstances. A hundred gigs seems a good number to have done, and I noted here a few blogs back that I am bored of documenting each gig. I prefer to channel my creative energies, for now, into writing about other true life encounters and anecdotes, which can be read here.
Tonight’s gig was my, I believe, fourth annual attempt at progressing in the Scottish Comedian Of The Year competition. Last year I was wild-carded into the semi-finals, and this year (as previous years) I hoped to be voted through on my own merit. Yet again, it was a forlorn hope.
I carefully chose my material, as ever, hand-picking my favourite jokes. Instead of one-liners, I decided to go with stories, absurdism, and menace. Stuff that I know to be funny, based on past experience, and suitably different from what I expected of the other acts in my heat. I chose well, I got laughs where I expected them, and on an ad-lib when one physics-based joke failed. The promoter laughed, and told me he had enjoyed my set, but it was not enough to secure me a vote into the next round.
A handful of us had, post-gig and pre-vote, correctly predicted the first two places. Chris Dinwoodie won outright. You can argue about the perceived fairness of having a magician in the Scottish Comedian competition – you can, I cannot be bothered. With audience volunteers on stage, a couple of stock lines, and magic in addition to material, it is hardly the same category as the guy who gets up there armed only with self-penned jokes. Don’t get me wrong, Chris is undeniably good at what he does and he is extremely entertaiining – whether that solely justifies the title “comedian” though is open to debate.
Second place went, without wishing to do him a disservice, to the guy who brought the most friends. This happens at virtually every SCOTY heat, and is no surprise. It is simple logic – whoever brings the most audience wins (or at least strongly biases) the audience vote.
Third place was tightly fought between Paul McDaniel – regular readers will know his personable surrealism makes him one of my favourite acts at this level – and Adam Struth, with whom I have gigged on countless occasions. Paul went through, with Adam a contender for one of this year’s wild-card places.
I had a good gig, despite misjudging my timing and running under, but it proves once more that it always, always, always comes down to what the audience likes. And every audience is diffferent. I can do decent material, get consistent laughs, and still not progress. I think what I need in my life right now is not something as fickle as stand-up comedy.
Never say never, and none of us can know what the future holds, but with my next gig (wherever and whenever it may be) being my landmark hundredth, don’t be surprised if it starts winding down after that. It seems a good stopping point for this blog too, even if I do continue to gig. We will see.