Gig 17: University of Salford’s Student Union – 18th October 2011
October 19, 2011 5 Comments
The last time that I had to perform in front of “the youth” it came as a surprise (Gig 9), but I had full, prior knowledge that this was a student gig (at Salford University’s student union bar), and so I prepared accordingly. This essentially involved me removing any traces of 1980s references and seeing what was left.
As I’d had a pretty busy week, I didn’t have time to throw in anything new, so it was going to be cobbled together from previous bits I’d performed. My initial stab at a set list was:
1. Opening joke that I first tried at my last straight stand up gig (Gig 14).
2. “The Joke Book” – I used the basic device of my Dragons’ Den bit from Gig 14, but instead of those jokes I used my bad pun notebook, which I used a lot in my early gigs and which I really like. I like the way that, because I read the jokes from a book, I’m able to play around and improvise, and basically try to tailor the section (and which jokes I do) to the audience. I usually do 3 or 4 one-liners from the book.
3. The joke that got me gonged off from BTF, but in no way should have (in my opinion).
4. One of my new celebrity nonsense bits from Gig 14. The other was dropped because it referenced Frank Spencer.
6. Two bits that have become mainstays of my straight sets. The third bit that I usually do after them was dropped because it was an 80′s reference.
7. My “personal” stand up bit, last performed at Gig 9.
8. One of the short stories that I performed at Magical Animals (Gig 16).
9. An “anecdote”, which is my usual closer.
I settled on this on Saturday morning, basically so I had chance to practice whilst driving about. I figured it might run a bit long, so I knew I needed to do a timed run through to make sure it stuck as close to 10 minutes as possible, but I basically knew what I’d be doing.
I’ve had a really busy week, so didn’t have chance to time myself until the evening of the gig. As I suspected, it overran. By the time I got to the end of point 8 - the short story – I’d done around 10:30. The bit that I wanted to perform least (and therefore drop) was the closer – which doesn’t instil confidence in the bit. I think I’ve stuck with it as my finisher because it felt more like a conclusion that my other stuff. With that out of the way, I realised that I couldn’t finish with my short story, so I’d have to re-jig the order. I decided to go with:
1. Opening joke.
2. “The Joke Book”
3. The joke that got me gonged off from BTF.
4. One of my new celebrity nonsense bits.
6. 2 bits that have become mainstays of my straight sets.
7. One of the short stories that I performed at Magical Animals.
8. My “personal” stand up bit.
I decided to close with my “personal” stuff because a) it was the only block of related material I had, and b) the last line of it got a big laugh from the youngsters at Gig 9. As with my last minute enforced changes for Gig 15, I felt really happy with how the restructuring felt. It was time to go to the gig (luckily with a 30 minute drive which would enable me to make sure the new order was locked in).
I hadn’t been nervous all day, but I started to get a few butterflies on the drive over. The traffic was terrible when I hit Salford, so I was running really late and had to park in a car park where I wasn’t sure If I’d be able to get off or not, so I was a bit flustered when I got to the venue (it doesn’t take a lot). I had a look in the room, which was nice large space was pretty full. I’m not great at estimating numbers of people, but there were 100-200 people in attendance (although I’m happy to be corrected on this).
I was on second in the first half, and it was clear from the response generated by MC Colin Manford and first act Mike Sheer that the audience was appreciative and friendly, which is always a bonus. Sadly, this didn’t alleviate my nerves, which really kicked in when the show started. I even got my usual “I don’t think I can remember any of my material” thing, which is the last thing you need before going on.
As tends to be the case (luckily), my nerves disappeared when I got on stage and it all seemed to go really well. Perhaps not everybody got what it was about, but I got enough laughs from a high enough percentage of the audience for me to be really pleased with how it went. I got lots of genuine laughs and I even got my first ever applause break at one point. Sadly, I can’t remember what it was for, other than the vague recollection that it was for a throwaway line that I didn’t think would get much of a reaction. Luckily, the performance was recorded, so hopefully I’ll be able to watch it back and try and make a bit more sense of what happened.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt that one of my “straight” sets has gone well, rather thank just OK – maybe even dating back to Gig 2 – so this was a massive positive. One of the things that I’ve struggled with so far is getting to grip with knowing which bits of material are working, but I do feel at least incrementally better at it. It really does just seem like you need to do as many gigs as possible.