Gig 8: Comedy Balloon, The Ape and Apple, Manchester – 20th July 2011
July 21, 2011 4 Comments
You may remember that last Thursday’s gig (Gig 7) didn’t go so great. Since I knew I had a gig this week, I spent Friday trying to work out what on earth my next set was going to consist of. There were two areas I wanted to address:
1) My opening – which I have done in one form or other in all my straight stand-up gigs – is a little…obtuse. I really like it but it does involve at least a minute of no laughs before the point becomes clear, and I thought it might be an idea to try something different.
2) My initial reaction was to ditch all of the new 6 minutes that I tried last week. This seemed a little harsh, so I decided to break it in half. It seemed easier to judge 3 minutes of material and less of a risk.
Luckily, I had an idea for a new opening bit, so I quickly cobbled together my set:
1) New opener.
2) Two bits that have been in every “straight” set.
3) A bit from earlier gigs that only got dropped from Gig 7 due to time constraints.
4) Retrying the first 3 minutes of new stuff from Gig 7.
5) One of my “short plays” from Gig 6.
6) The closing bit from Gig 5.
This week’s gig (how many times can I use the “g-word” in one post???) was at Comedy Balloon – the venue for my so-far most successful show, Gig 2. I’d rehearsed plenty and because most of the material was stuff I’ve done before, I knew it pretty well. So, I was surprised to find that I was really nervous the day of the show. As I’ve experienced on a couple of previous occasions, I wasn’t mentally nervous, but physically nervous; the butterflies really kicked in. It’s a weird feeling because it feels ridiculous when you’re not consciously worried.
Anyway, by the time I had to get up and perform, the nerves had really escalated. My mind was screaming: “what the hell are you doing this for?” But, once you’ve been announced, you don’t have much choice but to get up there and give it a go. Not that there was any real possibility of me not going through with it, and I do really want to perform. It’s just weird what nerves can do to your thoughts.
So, how did it go? Well, I got more laughs than last week and I was pleased with the performance aspect given how nervous I was.
Perhaps the main thing that I noticed was that my new opening – although different – was exactly the same kind of obtuse that the previous opening had been. It’s only when I was performing it that I realised how much the case this was. I had to endure the full minute of blank looks before the point of it was revealed. I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s not great to see those blank faces looking out at you and the temptation is to try and get some easier laughs to kick off. There is part of me that relishes it, though. I guess that’s why I keep coming up with that kind of material in the first place. From an “artistic” point-of-view, I want to stick with it as it is almost a mission statement of the kind of comedy that I’d like to do. From a practical point-of-view, you should ditch stuff that isn’t working, and I have to ask myself if the laugh I get at the end of the segment is big enough to justify the silence. I don’t feel equipped enough at this stage to make the decision.
The 3-minutes of retried material from last week went OK, but I’m not sure there are enough laughs in it to justify the 3-minutes. I think it might have to sit on the subs’ bench for a while until I can make more sense of it.
The “short play” didn’t go down as well as I thought it would, which was disappointing.
Overall, I came away feeling that the night hadn’t gone very well and I had a slight crisis of confidence. This is weird, because my perception is almost that last week went better, even though I know I got more laughs this week. Perception is a bitch, isn’t it?
Because I’ve seen a lot of non-professional comedy over the last year, I’ve noticed that you can have two acts on a night that will get broadly the same quantity and quality of laughs, but the perception will be that one act absolutely killed and the other didn’t do too well. In short, the more I learn about comedy, the more I realise how little I actually know.
Luckily, I’m self-aware enough to realise that this is a really tough thing to do and that it takes several years and hundreds of gigs before you really have any idea of what you’re doing. It’s natural to be full of self-doubt at this stage and that you just have to develop a thick skin and power through it.
It’s really no wonder that a lot of comics give up. Anybody that makes it really deserves it.
Other than that, it was a really good night of comedy, featuring sketches from Him and Me TV and stand up from Alex Mettrick in the first half. The second half consisted of an Edinburgh preview by Harriet Dyer, which contained the best “whales singing pop songs quiz show” feature that I’ve ever seen.