June 19, 2013 Leave a comment
With a regular MCing gig, I don’t like to use my usual stand up material for fear of burning through it and being forced to repeat myself. If you have any hope of building a regular audience then you need to keep things fresh. However, I decided that as there were 4 TWCNiS’s to go before Edinburgh I’d distribute some material across them as a way of giving the bits an extra run out before the Fringe. Using my actual material had been a big success when compering at Gig 112, so it would be interesting to try it again.
I was inspired to revisit a couple of bits of material when recording my latest podcast (listen here); specifically a bit I dropped from Gig 17 because it was about Frank Spencer and the audience were too young to get the reference, and “I was sat at a desk…” which I weirdly can’t find where I referred to it.
Upon arriving at the venue, it became apparent that the Snug – where TWCNiS usually happens – was occupied by the comedy course that usually happens in the larger upstairs theatre space. It turned out that due to an administrative mix up that we’d be upstairs instead. You may think that moving the gig into a dedicated room with stage and lighting would be a good thing, but the Snug is a more intimate space and is much more forgiving of the low attendance that is always a possibility at an open mic night.
And, as is typical, last night would be the lowest attended TWCNiS yet, both in terms of audience and acts. By the scheduled 8:30 start time there were 4 acts and one audience member (who was my mate) in attendance. We understandably delayed the start of the show, as we hoped that some of the people from the comedy course might come up once they had finished to help bolster the numbers.
We sat around waiting in the upstairs room in a strange, quiet atmosphere. It seemed increasingly unlikely that we’d go ahead but we waited on the off chance that it wouldn’t be a wasted night. The comedy course ended at about 9:30, and, although the attendees didn’t come up, Dave “Dave Turquoise” Turquoise managed to rustle up 4 regular audience members, plus Lou who runs the course. We were good to go by around 9:40.
With such a late start and only 4 acts, it didn’t seem worth having an interval and it seemed best to just get it done. Because of the strange build up – caused by both the extended wait, and the weird isolation of the theatre space – I struggled to muster up the feeling of this as a real gig. I was feeling way too relaxed, and it all felt too informal for me to go into a proper MC mode. Pretty much the first thing that happened when I took to the stage was that the microphone fell apart, which could have been a sign, but just perfectly summed TWCNiS up.
I’ve had an accident this week, which had left me with a noticeable facial injury. I thought it would be a good idea to address this right away, and had a rough plan about what I would say. When I actually came to say it, though, I felt really awkward about it. I don’t really ever do stuff about myself, and, although you could hardly call it material, it felt really weird. I hurried through it and moved onto the next thing.
It felt a bit odd to do audience participation under the circumstances. I more or less just asked everybody’s names, in an attempt to make them feel involved. It didn’t seem right to start delving into ‘what do you for a living?’ type questions. It’s also just struck me that the room was really bright, so that kind of made the idea of chatting to a relatively sparse audience feel more awkward. Instead, I thought I’d just get some material out. I tried out the Frank Spencer thing (which I liked) and also resurrected my Cliff Richard bit, which I haven’t done for a while. I didn’t want to go on too long, so I then brought on the first act. The microphone immediately decided to disintegrate again. It was one of those nights.
After that, I decided to do a couple more bits of material before the second act (the increasingly legendary Tony B). I started with ”I was sat at a desk…” and remembered why I had stopped doing it in the first place. Although I really like the set up to the joke, the punchline just gets no reaction. I then started Two Zombies, at which point Tony declared that he was going for a wee before he went on. TWCNiS is just that kind of night. The zombie stuff didn’t go amazing, but I’m still enjoying exploring it as a piece of material and think it can be developed further.
After this Tony took to the stage and informed us that the bar man told him that we only had 15 minutes left. At some point the microphone started inexplicably growling, as if it was roaring its disapproval at our litany of setbacks. After a truncated set from Tony, I got back on and only had time to introduce the other two acts and we just about made our deadline of finishing at 10:30. Despite the cock ups and the short running time, it turned out to be a fun night. And by “fun” I mean “completely nuts”, as it par for the course at TWCNiS.
Even as I type this, I’m not sure if this counts as an ‘official’ gig or not. One thing that is for certain is that The Worst Comedy Night in Salford continues to build its reputation as the most unpredictable of open mic nights, and that, despite the difficulties, I love it more each time.