Category Archives: Chris Henry

Malky’s Leaving Night, Pop-Up Comedy, 17th December 2013.

After five years of promoting his signature gig, Malky decided to hand the bulk of duty over to his regular compere, Chris Henry.

I have been attending gigs at The Halt for three of those years, and have seen it go from strength to strength. Dozens of other gigs have sprung up and died by the wayside, including nights Malky himself ran in other venues, and so it is something of an achievement that the weekly free Tuesday night event continues to pack out this west-end bar. Whatever your opinion of the man, or of the reputation his stage persona has, he managed to consistently find an audience and keep them coming back regularly.

Although I have been absent from the scene for months, through comedy fatigue and a loss of love for performing, it very quickly popped into my head that perhaps I should try and write Malky some kind of send-off poem. The precedent had been set when Chris himself left, bound for London to pursue his career. No sooner had the thought hit, than rhymes and couplets suggested themselves. There was such an abundance of ideas that eventually I sat down and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Three hours, two pages, and ten verses later, the first draft was complete. The second draft was mostly restructuring, making edits and choosing the best order for the verses to flow, and I contacted Chris to arrange things.

The first section would be a normal gig, a series of open spots performing material. Then there would be an awards section which, despite my reservations, was comparatively entertaining to witness. Finally, Chris would get Malky on stage in the third section, present an award to him, and hand over for his headline spot. I would be introduced to the stage just prior to Malky’s act, and I spent much of the evening – when questioned by friends and fellow comedians – lying through my teeth about having nothing planned. In total I confided in two, or at most three, people. The following, therefore, came as a surprise to almost everybody.

“The Malky Way.”

We’re gathered here tonight to say
Farewell to Malky, who’s on his way.
I’ve watched him gig two-hundred times,
And never seen him commit any of those crimes.
(So he’s clandestine.)
(Like a Lostprophet.)

I asked him why he’s leaving, folks.
He says work has left no time for writing jokes.
That left me buckled on the floor –
It’s never stopped the cunt before!

He’s promoted gigs near and far –
We’ve played the Bier Halle, and The Vicky Bar.
Buff Club too, and you cannot fault
The effort that man’s put in to making The Halt.

He’s been very fair, given everyone a shot.
He let Hobbit compere, and that says a lot.
He let new acts practice, he gave them the floor;
Some who got good now refuse to walk through that door.

Always on first, weekly, after the break,
He’ll do one joke, and a news stock-take.
You could never truly call him bitter,
For he delights in saying he’s been blocked on Twitter.

Whenever he compered, don’t be fooled –
As a warm-up man, he left the room cooled.
Amazingly, for all the deathly silence,
There were precious few gigs ended in violence.
(One or two.)

He took all our abuse with only good grace,
He’s been a great friend and a familiar face.
It’s gonna be weird when he’s not here –
But at least the girls can drink without fear.
(Unless Chris steps in.)
(Which is a possibility.)

Malky’s one of those old-fashioned guys.
Rohypnol? No, hoods and cable ties.
The infamous mating-call of that man
Was “Just eat the sweets, and get in the van.”

I say that he’s funny and, seriously, though,
He gets lots of laughs when he’s not here in Glasgow.
I’ve seen him do well in various places –
He’s not allowed back, but he did crack their faces.
([a smile])

But will the acts who now open our second half
Tread in his footsteps, and not get a laugh?
Perhaps in the New Year we’ll all get a shot
At killing the room in the famed “Malky spot.”

This heartfelt character assassination
Is in fact a celebration.
He’s given humour to the masses
And so I ask, please raise your glasses.
(To Malky.)

I think his girlfriend recorded my recital on her phone, but whether the video is any good or – crucially – the audio coherent, I don’t know.

Pop-Up Comedy continues to run every Tuesday night, featuring new acts and an experienced headliner weekly. You can check line-ups on the Facebook page, or continue to troll Malky on Twitter.

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Gig 95: The Halt Bar, 7th May 2013

I did what I often do – spent weeks thinking about what material to do at a far-off gig, and then spent the whole afternoon hurriedly writing it. This was made easier, in some ways, on this occasion, as everything I wanted to do is based in fact. Facts by themselves are not funny, however, and so I endeavoured to write frequent, regular punchlines to go with them.

I knew that I wanted to try and be more political, not least because I have recently taken to protesting against the increasingly-unworkable policies of the Tories. Based on the eight articles I have written over on my other (and now preferred) blog, Embrace The Absurdity, I sat and wrote nine pages of story and jokes. Then I went to the library, printed them off, and jumped a bus to the gig.

I was down for five minutes, and had been hoping to extend that to ten. Even ten wasn’t going to be long enough to cover everything, I quickly realised. The bill was particularly full, a great line-up of reliable acts (ones who can especially be replied upon to turn up too), and so there was very little room for maneouvre. Chris Henry, compering to a reserved crowd, agreed to give me what leeway he could. He allowed me seven minutes, and even speaking as fast as I did and wrapping up as soon as I saw the light, I still managed to overrun.

As I said later, I didn’t run out of time so much as just used my time less well than I should have. However, for a first outing, I am happy with it. It is just unfortunate that the really funny stuff is in the second half of this routine, and I don’t think I got as far as the halfway mark.

It was summer this day, Glasgow’s one and so far only day of warm sunshine this year. As a result, the dark bar was quieter than usual while the local park and beer gardens flourished. It felt like the audience didn’t really wake up until the second section, and while I drew some laughter I also had a fair few silences where I had anticipated a reaction. After further testing, I may look at cutting swathes of it in order to get to my points faster, allowing me to move onto the latter part which  feel is funnier.

As it stands, I think this could easily fill twenty minutes, or at least fifteen – but that is an amount of time not available to me, and so I will have to do (and hone) each of about five different stories in turn. It will then be ready to combine and hopefully have my first twenty done. It probably lends itself more to spoken word than stand-up nights, so I might have a look and see if there is anyone willing to let me try that out. Otherwise, maybe I will finally have something I am willing to punt as my first solo (or maybe joint) show at next year’s Comedy Festival. Time will tell.

In the meantime, here is the very first outing of my all-new material. With some laughs, a couple of jokes incorporated from my previous sets, and a wee bit of laughter too.

 


Gig 4: The Vicky Bar, 1st Dec 2010

Not quite sure how to describe last night, but it was a cross between a car crash and a mass comedy suicide.

Pop-Up Comedy is running a new night at the Victoria Bar on Glassford Street, which began last night in front of an indifferent, disinterested audience, and one very attentive heckler. Chris Henry compered, getting up and chatting to various punters. He asked one Irish guy what brought him to Scotland, to be met with a gruff “I’ve been here longer than you.”

So it began, as the first two comedians both cut their acts short in the wake of audience apathy. Being situated next to the door, people coming in or going for a smoke managed to ruin a couple of punchlines and set-ups, while the attentive heckler made himself known by joining in during every act. He was sat two tables back, with long hair tied back and an earring of the style that creates a hole in the lobe. He’d obviously had it a while, since he’d a good two-inch diameter (which Tony Hilton later threatened to coat in vaseline and shag).

Malky went up third, and did a full ten minutes – none of it really appreciated – but at least he enjoyed himself. Now we were running short, Tony Hilton went up to close the section (rather than open the next), and ended up doing some ad-libbing and singing for the crowd in order to keep their attention. The section closed, and some food was laid on – I was now in the unenviable position of both opening the second section and of following the food. You can see the video of my spot below. While the food was served, our heckler got up and stood in front of the stage and played a couple of tunes on the bagpipes he had with him, and so we tried to collectively think of some putdowns we could use based on that fact. I used a couple of my own when I got the chance, although he was strangely quiet during my set.

I have to say, I lost my fear before going up – ordinarily, I run through my set in my head in the break/act previous, but by this point it was clear we had nothing to lose, and so I decided to just get up and enjoy myself. Which I did, so much so I volunteered to play here again in a fortnight. When they heard that, both openning acts also asked to be put back on that bill – it should be a good laugh. Fuck it, we’ll just do the same material there every week til they fucking listen! 😀

Darren Connell, whom I personally think is brilliant (first time I saw him he got more laughs, more often, than anyone else I’ve seen on the circuit) also cut his act short – it’s quite disheartening playing to a room full of people ignoring you. Julia Sutherland got a big laugh from us when she lost heart halfway into her set, but delivered the line “Strap-on dildo” louder and clearer than anything else she said just to provoke response. Nothing from the crowd. Malky went up and did a second ten-minutes, since they didn’t care, and barely managed to capture their attention – except briefly when he just said “Celtic” into the mic.

Finally, headliner The Wee Man managed to capture their attention, based on his popularity via his viral YouTube videos. He managed to even get some audience participation, and finally they paid some attention. Well, some of them did. When he started grooming them.

So, it was a bit of a downer but we all kind of expected as much – we were playing to regulars, not a comedy audience, and it was the first ever comedy night there. Hopefully in time we’ll win them over, and get some silence (if not laughter…) during the acts. That said, I did my set in full (and faster than I realised), and got a few laughs. Like I said, I felt I had nothing to lose, and I enjoyed myself regardless. The 15th is my next gig, back there, so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ve warmed to us any.