At the time of writing, I have just done seven gigs in the past twelve days and need to write about the last six of them. With a number of consecutive gigs, some of them completely impromptu, and other activities such as guiding a comedy pub crawl and participating in a protest march against the Tory cu(n)ts, combined with general sleep deprivation, my memory of some of these gigs is now sketchy at best.
This was a Thursday night, and an additional (abbreviated) evening of Pop-Up Comedy followed a “Best Of Fife” compilation show. I knew I could arrive later, as I wouldn’t be on until the first show was over, and although I would’ve liked to see closer Teddy public transport meant I missed him.
The front two rows were comprised entirely of foreigners, which sounds a lot more disparaging than is intended. I forget the nationalities, but I think there were some French, Finnish, Swedish, and maybe some German people amongst them.
Malky was compering, asking the French girl if she was “in Seine” for leaving Paris for Glasgow. Had I heard that, I might have instructed him to “Louvre alone.” I’m not sure if puns translate well into other languages, although I’ve heard that German is so precise that such wordplay is nigh on impossible.
Jimmy Bread opened, with his Invisible Band, and while he was on I realised that nobody had yet removed the mic from the stand. There has been an issue lately, and so I summoned Malky over to ask him if I would be hit with deafening crackling if I was to remove and hold the microphone. He assured me that it would be okay, but that I would become inaudible if I held the mic too far away, and indecipherable if I held it too close. This was just what I needed to hear – that there was a very definite but unidentifiable required distance between the mic and my mouth.
On stage, I first asked if the audience could hear me okay. There was abject silence. I asked again, this time to a few unenthusiastic cheers of acknowledgement. Jesus!
With most of my keywords listed on my hand, I proceeded to alternately run through the current series of one-liners that form a vage story arc or two, and just deadpan honestly to the audience that I hate comedy, and that this (their silence) is partly why. Paul McDaniel later told me that he loved it when I ad-libbed and explained away the reading from my hand by saying “Some of these jokes are new, and some of them will be shit, let’s face it.”
Bits got laughs, bits didn’t. I ad-libbed a fair bit, trying to generate any laughter at all, but the audience was largely subdued. It was a weird one. The venue was packed – most of the seats were taken – but while nobody laughed, similarly nobody left. Very strange. Maybe it was European politeness or something, or maybe – like in Beckett’s Waiting For Godot – they figured if they stuck around long enough they would be greeted by what they were holding out for (laughter, in this case, rather than the titular tramp.)
Paul had a great set, and he remains one of the funniest acts I have seen, and one I always endeavour to see as his comedy is part philosophy, part absurdity, and partly just silly.
I think Geoff might have been on, Struan Logan definitely was, as were Ray Zambino and closer Will Setchell – back up from Manchester for one week only. The night was owned, for me, by Brother Rizzler and Brother Zuma. Nev and Jamie Rolland proceeded to present a ten-minute skit that led on from, and yet was significantly different to, the ten minutes they had done just two days previously. This time, they took their chosen audience member around the other side of the pub on a trip to see a third character, played by Ray, with lots of ad-libbing, occasional glances at the unmemorised script, and a completely different and unexpected ending.
I haven’t seen enough character acts or double acts, or even sketch groups, to say just how good these guys are. Being subjective, I find them to be one of the funniest and most interesting – and entertaining – new acts on the circuit. Hopefully they will develop further, they definitely have the invention, the innovation, and the potential to do a lot with this.
I think that’s more or less it. The room was reasonably busy, and people stayed until the end. It was a strange gig though, and not one of my best. Although, conversely, also not one of my worst.