December 5, 2013 Leave a comment
I’ve been compering at the Beech Inn for about a year now (clearly I could check through this blog for the exact timing, but, frankly, I can’t be arsed). Although I’m more aware of what’s required for the MC role than when I first started, the regular gig has started to bring a few challenges. There are a number of regulars who frequent the night, and so I like to have recurring ‘features’ to make them feel involved. I also don’t like to repeat material that I’ve used at the gig previously, so that the regulars don’t get sick of me. Often this approach is fine because, when it’s going well, the best thing to do is audience interaction and seeing what happens in the moment. The problem is when it’s not going well. If the number of newbie audience members outweighs the regulars, then it is my job to convince them that I know what I’m doing (especially as being awkward and clunk is my shtick). If chatting to the audience isn’t going well then the most effective tactic would be to fall back on some tried-and-tested material, but, for the reasons mentioned above, I won’t do this.
How is this relevant? Well, this is exactly what happened at this (last) month’s gig. The split of the audience was about 70-30 of non-regulars to regulars (this is a guesstimate because the gig was so long ago that I can’t remember properly). I tried to talk to a few of the newcomers to begin with but nothing really flowed. To try and break things up, I read out a new bit of Donnie Hotlips nonsense; the regulars seemed to like it, the rest of the audience looked at me as if I was the most unfunny man in the world.
The first section felt incredibly painful and it made me feel like giving up. Fortunately things picked up a bit as the night went on and by the end it was pretty much OK, although it was far from a massive success (from my perspective). It gave me plenty of food for thought on how to approach the gig in future. I think next time (which is in 5 day’s time because it’s taken me so long to write this) that I’m not going to prepare anything to force myself to just be in the moment and improvise stuff. Obviously, I might change my mind, but I’ll let you know.