Gig 2: Comedy Balloon, The Ape and Apple, Manchester – 8th June 2011
June 9, 2011 24 Comments
I thought I’d write this post in two sections, so that when I tell you what I was feeling prior to the gig, then it will be honest. The downside is that my tenses are going to be up the wall. I’m sure you can cope.
This gig was confirmed just a few days after my first, so I had nearly a month to prepare. Learning a lesson from my debut, there was no way I was going to be underprepared this time.
The gig was a straight (ie not in character) show and so I had to develop a whole new set of material for my 10-minute spot (although there is a 3 joke overlap with the Hans set). Luckily, I had a few notebooks of ideas that I’d compiled over the last few months. It was relatively easy to combine all of these and pick out 15-20 minutes or so of material to use as a starting point – which is not to say that any of it was any good! I had this first draft completed a couple of weeks beforehand and after a few read throughs, I was down to 13 or 14 minutes worth of stuff.
The next challenge was to learn it. I created two sets of bullet points – one with just the general sections and one with sub-headings for individual jokes. I found it relatively easy to learn the basics once I had it structured. Once you know the bullet points, it makes it easier to find the next bit in your memory. It was then just a case of repeating to myself – out loud – hopefully improving the phrasing as I went and throwing in new ideas. Acting the set out also made it clearer which bits to cut out for time, and the stuff that felt most natural stayed in.
Unlike last time, I didn’t spend the entire week feeling nervous, which was an improvement. The butterflies definitely kicked in the night before, though. It’s a weird feeling because my body was obviously a lot more anxious about it than I thought my mind was (if that makes any sense). I’m not entirely sure why the anxiety was so strong – although it’s obviously pretty natural to feel nervous before performing.
Driving home from work on the night of the gig, I quelled my butterflies by doing another dry run, and this at least made me excited to perform in addition to my terror. It’s really intriguing to know how people will react to stuff you’ve thought of and spent time working on.
My main aims for the set were:
1. Stay calm enough to remember the material.
2. Take time to feel the audiences reactions and feed off it.
3. Use the energy I have when performing the pub quiz and improv to make the material sound like it’s being performed and not read out.
4. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re getting laughs. Focus on the performance. (sorry for sounding a bit wanky)
Without wanting to sound cocky, it couldn’t really have gone much better.
The venue was Comedy Balloon at The Ape and Apple in Manchester. It’s a lovely pub and a great free open-mic night. It’s well worth popping down on a Wednesday if you’ve got nothing on. A lot of the audience were the other acts or professional comedians – which could be daunting – but it’s a really supportive atmosphere and a great place for comedy. If you’re thinking of giving stand up a try, then it’s a great place to start.
I did another run through on the drive into Manchester, which calmed me down a bit more, and I was only reasonably nervous by the time I was due to perform (I was on second, so I didn’t have much time to think about it). My relative lack of anxiety was definitely helped by the friendly atmosphere.
Once I started, I was fine and I really got into it. I have to say that the endless repetition of the set beforehand really paid off. Because I didn’t have to think about what I was saying I was able to concentrate on performance and ad-libbing. It’s weird that I thought of new lines to throw in considering how many times I’d already been through it all. I think this was due to the presence of an audience giving it a different feel.
The first 3 of my aims were met and thankfully I didn’t have to worry about the fourth as I was getting laughs. Oh, what a sweet, sweet sound.
Afterwards I got quite a bit of positive feedback, which blew me away. Obviously, being slightly socially awkward, I just kind of smiled and said thanks a bit sheepishly. Having one decent gig doesn’t really mean much,but at least I know I’m not completely wasting my time and that takes a certain amount of pressure off. Until I really bomb and become a gibbering wreck.
Something to look forward to, then.