Tag Archives: Glasgow

GICF Solo Show – (J)ordinary World, 12th March 2016

After a couple of years away from stand-up, during which I wrote 150 articles for my Embrace The Absurdity blog, I have decided to do my first solo show this year. Poster, descriptions, and ticket links follow below. I hope you can make it along, I expect it to be a one-off.

If you buy tickets online in advance, you will be entered into a draw to win some comedy DVDs – details here.

Blog Poster 002_003 (A3 no bleed) RGB Full Res

TICKETS: http://www.seetickets.com/event/jordan-r-a-mills-j-ordinary-world/yesbar/923410

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1488221281506109/

GICF page: http://www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com/shows/1237

 

 

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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 88: Deejays Snooker Hall, 30th March 2013

I got home from Dram/The Stand in the early hours of the morning, then looked out my spare saltire and wrote “F-CK THE TORIES” across its centre in black ink. I had decided that merely clicking “like” on facebook pages is no longer enough, and that I should join my first protest march in my adult life. I previously protested against the closure of my primary school, but as I was in p3 or p4 at the time my knowledge of the politics was non-existent.

Twenty-something years later, sick of the constant cuts being made by a Governement that nobody in my country voted in, I realised that the time has come to do something more than simply write FUCK THE TORIES across the back of my shirt. After five hours sleep or so, I found myself in the centre of Glasgow with a few friends and acquaintances and approximately 2500 or 3000 others, marching against what has become known colloquially as the “Bedroom Tax.”

Not only did it give me a sense of civic pride, to be amongst so many of my passionately-caring countrymen, I think it is my – and our – civic duty to protest and stand against those whose actions affect us all (or at least have the capacity to do so – you yourself are one unfortunate accident away from requiring disability liviing allowance, one further downturn away from unemployment) – especially as Scotland did not vote for the governing party in anything like the numbers that justify them ruling over us. Fuck the Tories.

msp protest circled me mcgovern
Above: John McGovern and me in George Square, listening to speakers introduced by Janey Godley.

I was asked ten days ago if I would put together a comedy bill for my aunt’s friend’s snooker hall. I knew that I would only do it on my own terms – this would not be an open-spot free-for-all, a gig for inexperienced umm-ers and ah-ers to stumble through brutally underworked sets. I would need a budget, I would book pro or semi-pro acts, and I would ensure a tight running time. There would be a small number of decent comedians on (and me), enough to be funny but not enough to drag the arse out it and make it a long night. If it went well, I figured, then maybe they will run it a second time. It needed to go well. If it runs again, satisfactorily and with some regularity, then I may look at opening it up to one or two open spots a night.

Having negotiated a budget, I had to decide how to split it. I sought advice from a couple of very different local promoters, both successful in their own ways. One told me that on a Saturday night, on a bank holiday (Easter) weekend, during the Comedy Festival, I should tell them thanks but no thanks. His alternate suggestion was to give two-thirds of it to a good compere and the other third to a decent closer (and he told me to refer to them as  a closer and not a headliner.)

The other promoter told me that at the gig he runs, which is nearer in level to the gig I would be putting on, he splits the money equally between compere and closer. I sounded out the compere and closer that I had in mind – being my gig, running to my design, I would be hand-picking the acts – and agreed a fee with each. This left me enough to pay all three ten-spots something too, which I had hoped to do from the start. From my long experiences in theatre, film, and other low/no budget industries, I am sick of being asked to work for nothing and I very much dislike asking that of others. Even in comedy, where it is expected that anyone doing less than 15/20 minutes will do it without fee and without complaint, I wanted to make sure that I remunerated people for their time.

This doesn’t make particularly good business sense, paying people who don’t expect to be paid, and if the gig runs again I will probably juggle the budget and see how else I can work it. However, as a first gig, I took it for the experience first and foremost, as it is something very different to my usual roles.

Having sent out a very detailed missive to all the acts, who were thankfully and surprisingly free that evening, I had confirmed attendance earlier in the week. It was on the Saturday morning that I got the text I didn’t want to get – one of the tens was ill, and asking if I could possibly find someone to take his place.

I had tried to balance the line-up by having a decent and friendly compere, a funny musical/character act, a female comedian (personally, funny is funny regardless of gender, but it would be ignorant to pretend that the stereotypes don’t exist), and a ten-spot who has a markedly different style to mine. The pressure was on to find an act who was consistently funny, with an assured delivery, able to address what may be a tough crowd (and certainly not an everyday comedy crowd), and available later that same day. I tried a dozen names, as did the ill act, but everyone was booked, unwell , or otherwise busy. Eventually, it was suggested that I get my other ten to do twenty – and thankfully, he agreed.

The other reason that I hadn’t wanted to book open spots – apart from a desire not to subject an audience to a succession of people dying in front of them, only for the gig to go badly and never be run again – was that I feared precisely this: pull-outs. That was why I wanted to pay my acts too, to deter them from cancelling. It nearly worked, and had I not found a replacement (in the eventual form of an extended set from the other ten) I know that this act would have come along as booked and despite not being well.

It was a small crowd, in the enclosed bar at the back of the snooker hall, partly because their 2am licence means that people usually come along later than the 9pm start time. Nevertheless, they seemed to enjoy it, and this was confirmed by the owner/manager in a positive text the following day. I had Obie compering, then twenty from Dogshit Johnson and, due to a later start, I did ten to close the first half. The second half saw Obie do a bit, followed by Anna Devitt. She won the “Best New Scottish Comedian” award at the Scottish Variety Awards earlier this week, and had a done a run of her own shows in the days previous. One of them was reviewed, with her being referred to as a successor to Frankie Boyle.

I was, as a I had expected to be, the weak link. I think I lost them from the very start, my opening line of “good evening wherever” seeming less satirical and more disdainful. In a post-gig conversation, Obie told me I just kind of went through my set without performing it. He may be right. Frankly, having had no proper sleep for weeks now, having spent the day walking about town, while trying desperately to think of and contact replacement acts who may be available, and then getting to the gig on a magical mystery replacement bus service (being first directed to the wrong bus by a Scotrail Fuckwit who couldn’t differentiate between Neilston and Newton on the departure board), there is a very good chance that I did just go through the motions with my set.

After heading to the 13th Note for a post-gig drink, a good-natured ribbing saw Obie accept a £20 bet from Dogshit that he will do a full hour of new material at his Edinburgh show this year. Discussing it in the next pub, after Dogshit and Anna had left, Obie mentioned that he was going to see if he could find someone to co-write it with him. I immediately volunteered. It just seemed too serendipitous that, after professional writer Steven Dick told me last night that the key to writing for people is to write for people, less than 24 hours later an opportunity presented itself for me to do just that. Besides which, I like the concept that Obie has come up with and think it holds a lot of potential.

I also find it a lot easier to write when someone else has provided a basic idea or storyline. It took me a full year to realise the script for my short film Jerry Generic, whereas I can write a pantomime in about a fortnight.

Thinking about our conversation on the walk home, I wrote three new bits in my head – and stopped at a bus stop at one point to jot down as much of it as I could. I knew if I waited until I got home and onto the laptop then some of it would be lost. One is a tie-in to the anti-rape rape joke that opens the short film, for when I develop that as an act for the stage. Another is an introduction that addresses an inherent part of my character which prevents me from talking about myself in any real depth. The third, I forget now but I wrote it down somewhere as I knew I would forget.

I also learned from a friend that the Scottish Government had discussed Derek Mackay MSP’s retweet of something I wrote on Twitter. There will definitely be a follow-up to that blog, once I have caught up on writing this one and had time to research some of the points I want to make. A quick look online for photos of the day’s march found one, not of my self-censored and publication-friendly flag, but of the shirt I have been regularly wearing since the general election. Photo below.

Tonight was also the minus-three-degrees-centigrade transition into Summer Time. Once I got home and had written all I wanted to, I headed to bed – tomorrow I am hosting a gig at The Tall Ship, for which I have done zero preparation.

msp shirt protest
Above: One of at least four photos taken of my shirt, and three people had the courtesy to ask my permission first. They got my best side.

 


Gig 87: Dram, 29th March 2013

I was out on Thursday night, helping run the door and guide the audience on a comedy pub crawl in the Merchant City. This gave me a little insight into how a bit of smart thinking can reap rewards, with the ticket allocation sold twice over and then some. This meant that two crawls would run simultaneously, across three venues. It gave me a chance to see Jellybeen Martinez play to a hundred or more people (last time I saw him there was a tenth or at most a fifth of that), I learned something about John Gavin’s techniques for compering, and I saw Gary Little – whose solo show was the first to sell out, and whose three additional shows all sold out – playing a room while standing on a table to be seen.

On the back of that, I was asked to help run the door at Dram the following night. My Friday evening was spent checking tickets for Alan Anderson’s sold-out Whisky For Dafties show (another shrewd concept, as his show is informative, funny, has international appeal, and is happily sponsored by a huge number of distilleries.) This was followed by a “Best Of SCOTY” showcase, and then a Late N’ Loud show. This final show had six presales, of whom four turned up.

Anderson made the decision to pull the show, refunding those who had come along, and getting all the booked acts up to do “three minutes of their best material” – when he listed their names, he included me. Three minutes of my best material? I have no idea what might constitute my “best.” The show manager from Jongleurs had come along, and for a split second I wondered if I needed to impress him. This was followed immediately by the realisation that I might as well just have fun, not stress about it, and simply endeavour to be funny. To this end, I jotted a few notes on my hand, aiming to do some of the one-liners that constitute what I refer to vaguely as the “relationship” bit.

Adam Ethan Crow later remarked that he found it funny that I read so blatantly from my hand when I needed to find my place. He showed me the notes he had written on his own hand, and explained how he glances at them far more discreetly.

Offering the audience the chance to pick names, Alan brought on Adam, Gareth Waugh, Charlie Ross, and me. Technically, I headlined Late N’ Loud. Except that quite obviously I didn’t, I just went on last. There is a very important distinction to be made there. Not least because I was “built up” as “the one act in this room who is used to only being on stage for three minutes, and more often hears a gong after two minutes and fifty-five seconds.”

Having then been introduced as “Door Guy,” I did the usual stuff about my name, and segued into some of my favourite (and newer) jokes about dating, finishing with the “fish” bit. Then I came offstage, and took drink orders from everyone as Anderson agreed to buy a round for the punters and acts. Despite his self-crafted image, he’s not all cunt.

Terry Alderton stuck his head in, and immediately saw that the gig was off. He had been on at The Stand and had come across to do this gig too. We spoke briefly about his previous gig in this room, at this time last year, where he played to a packed crowd and presented some of the funniest and craziest comedy I have yet seen. Realising that every comic he ever meets probably asks the show manager about playing Jongleurs, I made conversation about his PhD instead. Mostly, I just felt very out of place – surrounded by well-travelled successful acts, various high-profile promoters, and the son of another well-regarded Scottish act.

When the pub shut shortly afterwards, it was decided to head to The Stand to see who was about. I went along for the experience, figuring a knockback at the door (given my low standing in this company) would merely delay my walk home by a couple of minutes. Although not known at the venue, I had a list of words on my hand, the international proof-of-identity that you are a stand-up comedian. There was no issue, and we were allowed in to catch the end of the late show.

I had expected the venue to be shut, and playing host to a small gathering of comics for a post-show drink, but the last show was still going. I stood in a full room, clocking Gareth, Fred MacAulay, Mikey Adams, and Neil “Wee Man” Bratchpiece in my immediate vicinity, and Darren Connell further along at the bar. I stood and watched the bulk of Scott Capurro’s very funny set, as he headlined that show. The distinction I made between headlining a show and simply going on last is a pertinent one.

Afterwards, as the venue emptied of everyday punters, I had a few interesting conversations. Connell gave me some advice about a gig I have been asked to run tomorrow (Saturday 30th March) and the fees expected of a working weekend comedian. Ruaraidh, JoJo Sutherland’s boy, reminisced with me about the weekend I had played The Shack in his native Edinburgh – two of the worst gigs I have ever done, both purely down to me. We spoke of “Secret Dude Society” which filmed recently and which his mum worked for as Audience Warm-Up.

I met and spent a while chatting with Steven Dick, after we discovered a shared appreciation of Frayn’s play “Noises Off” and its filmed adaptation. I learned that Steven works as a writer for a whole host of big names, and that is what (I think) I would like to do – make a living by writing funny lines. I can take or leave the performance aspect of comedy. It was an enlightening conversation, and he gave me some decent advice in how to pursue my writing career – along with the warning that it has taken him a number of years to get where he is now. Definitely food for thought, however.

That was my evening – an unexpected and unusual gig, followed by a series of useful talks with some talented people. I’m very glad that I chanced my arm and headed into The Stand with everyone.


Gig 86: Che Que Bo, 27th March 2013

My friend Obie has recently started up a new comedy night at this pub, the Che Que Bo, which was formerly known as The Goat. It runs on a Wednesday evening at about 8.30pm, and he has been booking semi-established open spots as well as a decent headliner (this week, Mikey Adams.)

I have been along every week so far, trying to generate (or at least show) support for a new gig. There are very few gigs in this city at the moment, and even fewer that start up and survive, and so I always try and help with new endeavours in the hope that they will succeed. Weekly gigs are largely limited to Red Raw at The Stand on a Tuesday (with its several-months-long waiting list), Pop-Up Comedy at The Halt that same evening, and Vespbar on a Wednesday. There are occasional gigs at Dram, Box, The Griffin, The Admiral Bar, The Flying Duck, and run by Ginger Ale Comedy, but as these aren’t weekly it can be hard to keep track of what’s on when.

This was the first week that I wasn’t going to bother heading down, having been at the past three or four gigs, as I had commitments most other nights this week and had provisionally arranged to meet a friend for a much-needed catch-up. She wanted to meet later in the evening, though, and as Graham Mackie was guest compering I decided to go along for a bit.

Arriving about 9pm, I headed up to the mezzanine to find everyone just sitting around a couple of tables. I said my hellos and asked if this was “all acts.” It was. Nobody had turned up to watch, just the performers and other comedians supporting the gig and/or looking to get booked in future. The owner was joined by three of his friends, and it was agreed that the show would go ahead in a very laidback manner.

Mackie spoke to a few folk, skillfully managing to draw laughs from the small crowd. He began bringing acts to the stage by how close they were sitting to the performing area, starting with Ray Zambino. King Rizzler and Zuma were on, their double act failing to take off in front of a smaller crowd, a crowd principally made up of comedians, and full of people who have seen their act already. It was the first time I have seen them break character, which was funny in itself, but they work best with a larger crowd and in front of people who don’t know what to expect.

Other acts treated it as a workshop, casually going through their set and stopping to enquire about posture, delivery, mic stand positioning, and to take other tips. One of the owner’s friends, having had witty responses to Mackie’s questions, was given his first ever gig, using it to have a short but amusing rant. An audience finally arrived, in the form of a French girl and her male (I think German) friend. They were invited to select which comedian would come up next, and my name was included. I had only gone along to support, but I figured it would be a good chance to find out how much of the set I could remember without having a list of keywords on my hand.

Having been selected, I stepped up to the mic. I began with the “running” stuff, looking at a sea of faces who have mostly heard it already. That was when I just abandoned it and started ad-libbing. I related the concerns I had had, about which point do you decide to stop running and turn round to run home? Throwaway lines about being worried about what would happen when I reached the coast, and a stated wish that I had kept running “because then I wouldn’t be here, and that would be better for all of us.”

I abandoned my set after that, instead talking about a tweet I had posted to Twitter that was then retweeted by an MSP. This was unexpected, to say the least, and the Daily Record then ran an article about it. It was in that day’s paper, as I recall, and so I ended up just relating events – punctuated with laughter. I later wrote this blog about it.

With the realisation that I had stepped onto the stage and talked about Twitter posts, retweets, and resultant controversy, and knowing I was playing to a crowd who would get the in-joke, I said “fuck, I’ve turned into Malky.” I don’t like making cheap gags like that when he’s not there (although when he is there, it’s fair game.) I defend Malky a lot, and the reason he talks about the week’s events every Tuesday is that if he did material he’d be constantly selling it to the same audience. That is the very same reason I detoured tonight, because I knew I wouldn’t get much laughter from people familiar with my set.

Afterwards, it was decided that there would be a break. I showed a couple of folk the article in question (photographed and saved on my phone), and then left to meet my friend. On the way out, I noticed both audience members leaving too. The gig would finish as it began, directed at other acts, the owner, and his pals.

I quite enjoyed being able to just talk freely rather than with the constraints that come from having a series of one-liners in a prescribed order, and am glad that this gig gave me the freedom to do that. If I hadn’t tried it, I would just have been rehearsing the material for my next gig. This way, I got some laughs and did something different.


Gig 84: The Halt Bar, 21st March 2013

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.


Guest Appearances, Music Videos, And Comedy.

Somewhere in the region of a month ago, Ross Main requested extras for a music video he was making with my occasional collaborators at the Production Attic. It was a narrative illustration of his song “Johnny Three Balls”, sung in the guise of his acclaimed alter-ego Dogshit Johnson.

I volunteered, willing as ever to help my friends out with their creative projects. I am also appreciative of the people who gave their time to appear as extras in my own video, when we filmed “Jerry Generic“, so this was a karmic way to pass the favour on. It’s a good thing I felt that way, as it was a weekday during working hours and it transpired that I was the only person able to turn up besides Ross (in character) and Geoff Gawler who was assuming the title role.

It would be funnier anyway, it was agreed on the day, that the crowd shot of people dancing would be reduced to shots of an enthusiastic  audience of one. Me.

As requested, I dressed “hick” in an open checked shirt over a white t-shirt, on top of my jeans. I slicked my hair back – followers of this blog will notice that I have long since abandoned my once-infamous mohawk and have been growing my hair out for the past eighteen months. The result is something that is usually tied back into a ponytail, which has led to more comparisons to Steven Seagal than I wish to count, but which I was able to comb and spray into something resembling a mullet. The look was finished with the addition of a stick-on moustache.

They shot footage of me dancing for the entire duration of the three-minute song, pulling out and creating all manner of ridiculous moves. I later said to the director that people will watch this and think either that I am fearless, or that I am an idiot. He suggested it might be both. Fearlessly idiotic. Whether you think I am brave, or stupid, this video will probably reinforce your opinion.

With nobody else available for the other roles, I stepped in to look annoyed next to “Johnny” at the bar, and also played his foil in the shot where he lays down his hand of cards. I think the term Supporting Artist applies fully in this instance. I had fun. There were other days of filming with just Ross and Geoff, and the result is every bit as impressive as I would expect from all those involved.

Dogshit’s solo show is on at The State Bar on Friday 15th March. Tickets are £6, and you should go. He’s one of the best acts out there at this level, and one of the only character acts I enjoy watching.

The video is here: