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So I’ve been doing quite a bit of stand up lately. It’s actually been going surprisingly well actually. The thing that’s different though is that I’m not burdening myself with delusions of instant or immanent adulation so I’ve been allot more relaxed on stage because I don’t feel like my entire future is riding on it all the time.
I’ve been reading around my subject for a while, trying to find the correct attitude to take back onto stage with me instead of the blind thirst for approval that characterised my earlier work. I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s podcast allot and was particularly taken by his two hour interview with Louis CK. In this he spoke allot about just having the bravery to abandon your road hardened material and attempt to build yourself as a comedian anew each year. To dig deeper into yourself, your truer feelings and responses, in order to find the good stuff. In short, take yourself seriously as an artist but also maintain the absence of ego that years of trying to make strangers laugh affords you.
Now, more than ever, I appreciate that my comedy and writing should always be a work in progress and should only be considered finished if it’s been recorded in it’s entirety - just prior to never being performed again - and even then…
…so yes, I’ve been feeling much more empowered about the whole comedy thing and have decided to step up the diary function of this blog. I think this week (my ‘resurrection’ gig in Norwich notwithstanding) could be officially considered the week I stepped back into the game so it’ll be interesting to see where I am a year from now If I manage to maintain this.
So here we go.
The Hob in Forest Hill. 7/11/2011
(7 minutes - over ran to 10)
This is a lovely room. South East London (Up the Creek not with standing) is not necessarily the first locale that you’d think of when you think of the open mic circuit but I’ve got to say that I keep seeing new venues in the area and I’m a South London evangelist anyway so…yeah, FUCK NORTH LONDON!!
Anyway, this gig was MC’d by actor turned comedian, James Redmond. It’s always interesting to see people with a dramatic background do comedy as there’s a precision and a commitment to the beats of their performance that you wouldn’t find in regular comics so early in their career. He was a friendly and welcoming host.
The other act of note that night was circuit work-horse Johnny Armstrong. I’ve got to say he kicked arse. It had that “OK, how about this one?” relentless energy that I bloody love in other comics. Afterwards he said to me that he would prefer to have more thematic construction to his set, well I’ve got to say that I would love to just ‘have the gags down’ in the way that he seems to.
I had a good one actually - had some actors in the front row so had support for my ‘being an actor’ material. I was asked back to do 10 minutes on the 19th of November so I guess that’s mission accomplished.
Oh yeah, and Daniel Kitson turned up to do new stuff…that was nice!
Comedy Car Crash at the Lions Den 8/11/2011
Well this is an interesting one! No booking in advance, just turn up, sign up and support the other 20 or so acts! It’s a bit of an endurance test, truth be told. There allot of people there doing comedy for the first tim in their lives (including, while I was there, a 19 year old apprentice builder and a chap in his 50’s who’s worked in government his whole life but auditioned for Fry and Laurie while he was still at Cambridge). I had an OK one but by this point I was about 16th on so the crowd were more than a little fatigued.
What struck me more was the bizarre ranges of ambition in the room. There was one guy who had this weird, you Jack Kerouac kind of concentration who sat alone and worked on his stuff but when he hit the stage just seemed frozen. I wonder if after gigs and gigs of that he’ll just crack one day an genius will flow out. There was another chap who got up and read anecdotes about Peter Cook and a lady called Abigail who did an amazing poetic monologue about living outside the M25….these though, were very much the more interesting specimens the evening had to offer.
I had a good enough time but I think the next time I go I should take some Lucazade or something to help keep me enthusiastic for yet another ill-advised five minutes of pedophile jokes.
Charing Cross Road Comedy - The Royal George 11/11/2011
Couldn’t find a photo but this is what’s on the wall behind you while you perform - which is what it’s all about (one day…one day I will perform in front of a red brick wall). So this was a funny room, not that many people and only half the acts but I ended up having a lovely evening. The room doesn’t quite work as there’s this lingering threat of the door to the upstairs bar being opened and the constant traffic of hennish girls on their way to the loo - gurning embarrassedly to their co-tinkler behind them.
Despite this though, Nick Ewans the MC was charming and genial, if unorthodox in his style of audience interaction. He whipped them up into storm of polite acceptance of the fact that some comedy was going to happen and I got to be first on which was nice. I felt far more relaxed at this gig than I had done for a while and gently bobbed through my set - managing to pull some laughs out of stuff I hadn’t managed before and even getting time to road test a couple of new bits. I’d very much like to go back.
Also on that night was Louie Christie trying out some stuff, Boris Witz and his improvised musical celeb-hate rally, The ace Samantha Hannah (who runs the blog How to be a stand up comedian and the VERY strange but awesome Dave Green.