Category Archives: Panel 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 94: Podcast Recording, Halt Bar, 5th May 2013

Finally, at the fifth attempt, we produced something decent. Acts, audience, crew, equipment and script came together well.

I sat with Jimmy McKee, as in previous weeks, and faced Andy MacKay and Mick Clocherty. Mick proved to be a good foil for me – equally able to take any topic or tangent and run with it while making it funny. Malky hosted, his desire to avoid being seen to be reading (rather than addressing the camera) leading to a few verbal stumbles.

 

We filmed for about ninety minutes, which was later edited down to fifteen or so. After four weeks of fucking jokes about panda repopulation, none of that made the final cut. Never mind, it is good experience to try and write topical jokes on a weekly basis. I could reuse soem of this stuff in my stand-up, except I have decided to try and be a little more political now – based on my recent experiences of protest marches.

The podcast is still a work-in-progress, we are still refining it and finding out what works, what doesn’t, and what can be made to. In this video, you can hear a horrendous chat-up line, hear big Andy’s ad-lib highlighting a possible continuity error and the huge laugh it generates, and see me get owned by the “yer maw” joke that I deliberately set up. Whatever else might be said about Malky, and there is a lot, he is good at making the leap and coming back pretty damned fast.

Watch it, you will see.


Gig 92: Podcast Recording, Halt Bar, 25th April 2013

This proved to be the final Thursday night of the podcast, as it will be moving to Sunday nights starting later this same week.

Tonight wasn’t filmed either, due to availability issues with camera, lighting, or personnel. Instead, we had another run-through to acquaint ourselves with format and content. I was with Jimmy McKee again, playing opposite Andy MacKay (if memory serves, some weeks later) and Chris Stephen. We began as last week, with a little bit of stand-up comedy. This was thrown on me last minute, but I had brought my stand-up notes just in case, and managed to get through it.

One of my friends had come along, for the first time, and she joined the small audience. It was unfortunate, and I still feel bad, that I had to abandon her for the bulk of the evening. Despite this, it was a good night with lots of jokes, ad-libs, and interaction.

So good, in fact, that it was decided to do it all again on Sunday – using the same script – and film it.


Gig 91: Podcast Recording, Halt Bar, 18th April 2013.

A week after the first one, and we gathered again in the Halt for a second go at our podcast. The camera guys couldn’t make it, and neither could some of the Hard-Copy guys, and it was decided to run this one as a practice session.

We introduced an element of stand-up for the first half hour, followed by a break and then the panel show part. As I recall, writing this six weeks later, the other team members were Chris Stephen and Jimmy McKee, and a third I now can’t remember – sorry. Malky hosted again, also acting as compere.

With a smaller audience, numbering about ten, they were brought forward to sit just in front of the stage. It created an intimate atmosphere, which was also kept very informal, and while we worked through the scripted questions we also invited participation from the audience. It was a very realxed and enjoyable evening, and a marked step up from the previous week when we were all very new to the whole concept.

There is still room for improvement, of course, but we can use some of the material generated tonight in the filmed show next week. In theory, anyway. I am definitely having more fun with this than I do with my stand-up.