Gig 96: Podcast Recording, Halt Bar, 12th May 2013

I arrived to find the other acts and the few regulars all sitting around a notebook in the main bar. It seemed we had no audience, not helped by the pub’s blackboard advertising the Sunday night quiz rather than making any mention of comedy. Some of the regular panel members had also been waylaid, and so there was an impromptu meeting to decide on ways we can improve the format.

As I said to Chris, one of the driving forces behind this project, if I could think of an entertaining and engaging take on the panel show format, I wouldn’t be pitching it to him – I would be trying to pitch it to BBC Scotland.

My wee cousin and her boyfriend came along, the pair of them being our audience. They are former regulars of the Tuesday night comedy, and as we are all friends and the room was otherwise empty, I invited them to sit on the stage with us. Our opposing team had not shown, and so we had the most streamlined set-up yet – Malky hosting, and me sitting with my usual team-mate, Jimmy McKee.

I had, as every week, gone through the script and jotted down two or three answers for everything. A lot of the news stories angered my moral and political sensibilities, and I had decided to announce this week’s podcast as “the one where Jordan gets angry.”

I always write two or three answers for everything, and then move on. I put in running gags where I can too, and try to put in absurdity and silliness as much as any political or salient points. Nobody remembers every thought they have, and as I move on as soon as I have jotted down my first thoughts on each topic, some of them are still new to me when I come to read them back from the stage a few hours later.

I found out tonight that Jimmy hadn’t realised the script was published online in advance, which helps explain why every week I turn up better prepared than most of the other three panellists.

We ran through what we had, which was a truncated version of the show we record – no headlines round, and no photographs to caption. The camera crew were unavailable to film this evening either, and so it was a short and very informal gathering. It has been decided to use many of the same questions again next week, when we have cameras and – hopefully – audience.

To that end, the plan was hatched that we will try and arrest the attention of shoppers by staging the panel show – now called the Scottish News Quiz, in a further change of name – in the middle of Buchanan Street on Sunday afternoon. I think we said 2pm.

This is a terrible idea, absolutely awful, and so I agreed immediately. The last time I did comedy outside, I was heckled by four mounted police and nine riot vans (Kelvingrove Park, the day of the Royal Wedding/riots.) The last time I said something was a bad idea while simultaneously agreeing to it, I ended up compering the London headline show of my favourite band.

This week has a lot to live up to.

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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 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 93: Podcast Recording, Halt Bar, 28th April 2013

This was the first Sunday night of the podcast, using the same basic script as on Thursday and complemented with remembered ad-libs.

We had cameras, and crew, and lights, and participants. We lacked an audience. We went through it all, playing to somebody’s girlfriend and her brother.

It was fun, and enjoyable, and the footage was completely unusable – it was too odd without any laughter on the soundtrack.

We will salvage what we can (that which remains topical) for the next show, in a week. It all came together well, and nobody was there to see it.


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.


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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.