Gig 49: Comedy Balloon @ The Ape and Apple, Manchester – 18th April 2012
April 20, 2012 5 Comments
I don’t think it would be self aggrandising to say that I do a lot of different types of gigs. This means that although I do write quite a lot of material it tends to be for completely new things. As a result, I don’t write as much for my straight stand up set as I’d like to. And, typically, this is the type of material that I find hardest to get right.
I’ve been wanting to develop some fresh material for a while – and I really need to think of a plan for how I do that – but as a short term measure I came up with the concept of “Ste Price’s Greatest Misses”. I would basically look back at some of the material I’d only tried once or twice before (and a few bits I’d never tried) and give them another go to see if I could make them work. Most of the bits came from very early gigs, so there’s always a chance that I just didn’t sell them properly at the time and unjustly dropped them. I also liked that the “Greatest Misses” conceit gave the set a hook, and this could give me the room to play around with it a bit. The Comedy Balloon is a nice gig for trying new stuff, so my plan was set. It didn’t take long to pull together a list of bits, and it was surprisingly easy to get back into them, especially considering I’d only done some of them once before, nearly a year ago. Some of the bits came out fully-formed the first time I practiced them, and everything came together within a few run-throughs.
Although I could have learned a set order for the bits pretty easily, I decided to just have them as a list on an index card. This would make it easier for me to pick and choose what I’d do and in what order, depending on what felt right on the night. However, this did mean that I wasn’t sure how long it was all going to last (although it seemed likely if I did everything that it would be over 10 minutes), especially as there was a chance that I’d mess around between the bits, commenting on them. As a result I decided to time myself during the gig, get to 9 minutes and then close on a particular joke.
My spot was first in the second section, which is a nice place to be, but, unfortunately, some of the audience left in the interval, leaving a slightly odd vibe to the room. The audience consisted of 3 actual real audience members (students who didn’t seem to laugh at any of the acts), about 5 other comics who weren’t performing, then around 6 of the acts who were performing. I did consider whether this should actually count as an official gig – like the infamous Gig 8a – but there were enough people present to make it worth performing, even if it was a slightly odd mix.
You can probably sense that I’m leading up to telling you that it didn’t go particularly well. It didn’t.
In the first half, the students had been asked if they had ever watched The Goonies; they hadn’t. I looked at my index card and realised that lots of my bits were reliant on 1980s references. It didn’t really help my chance of success, and, in retrospect, I think the reason I haven’t done some of this material since is because it’s meaningless to younger audiences. I’ve actually dropped another one of my personal favourite bits exactly for this reason.
Luckily, I had the central conceit of “Greatest Misses”, so I could at least make a point out of me missing certain jokes out, and about them not getting others. As I started, I forgot to start my stopwatch (I always do) so I wouldn’t know how long I’d done. This did prove a bit of a distraction and I just had to guess.
Here’s what I did:
Revolutionary Era France – I thought I had only done this a couple of times before, but in my write up of Gig 17 I describe it as “my usual closer”. I guess that I subconsciously chose to open with it because it’s worked in the past, but I’ve not done it for ages. I think it was OK, but the main plus was that I really liked the way I started, pretending that I was out of breath and that I had only just made it to to the gig on time (despite having clearly been sat there all night).
Intro for “Greatest Misses Concept” – Rather than just say “I’m doing some new material, I told the audience that I didn’t have enough material and had to choose between writing something new or rehashing old stuff, and that I’d chose the latter.
Crocodile Dundee – Well, here was a reference that wasn’t going to work, but in the context of how the bit plays out, it doesn’t matter too much. The only time I’ve done this before was at Gig 8, also at the Balloon. It went pretty much the same as last time, only I probably performed it better. It’s a bit like I really like, but you have to get through a long stretch of blank looks to get to the punchline, which isn’t really related to the bulk of the material. It’s certainly a bit that I’ll think about doing again.
Extinction of birds\80s martial arts – This was in my original batch of straight material, first performed at Gig 2. I perhaps did it once or twice again, but it was very quickly dropped because it’s incredibly niche, but not actually funny. I chose not to do it because it’s incredibly niche, but not actually funny. I did make a thing of this by telling the audience that I wasn’t doing it because… well, you know the rest. I weirdly have a fondness for it. The only way it’s likely to appear again is if I’m trying to do a very weird set.
Moments in history – This was previously only performed at Gig 2. It was dropped because somebody told me that it was a bit obvious, but I’ve always quite liked it. It didn’t really go down well, but I still like it. I probably won’t do it again.
Raunchy Story – This started life as the first half of my “Personal Bit”, originally performed at Gig 7. I then performed it on it’s own at Gig 8, before dropping it. I decided that the second half was stronger. That’s why I still do it. Anyway, I did a little re-write on my “raunchy story” and some bits definitely worked. I do quite like it and might try and develop it. The only thing that worries me is that it’s meant to be so sexist that it’s utterly ludicrous. I wouldn’t want anybody to misunderstand and like it because they thought I was actually being sexist. Oh, and I definitely need to improve the ending.
Loyd Grossman – I’ve actually done this quite a few times before, but not for a while. It’s one of my really lame jokes, so needs to be transferred to Den Kodd‘s arsenal of lame jokes.
Who’d win in a fight… – This was a completely new bit (but from very old notes). It seemed to go down OK, so it will get another airing.
Fell off a Cliff – Another bit from Gig 2 that may have been used once or twice in early gigs. It was a “maybe”, but possibly might be another transfer to Den Kodd.
Job Interview – Only previously performed at Gig 2. It didn’t really work and the punchline is to mention something that I’d rather not mention – even when I’m making fun of it. (I mentioned Babestation).
“20p tip” - As I’ve already mentioned, things weren’t going great and I didn’t know how long I’d done. When I got to this bit, I thought I was getting close to 10 minutes, so I didn’t do it (i.e. I chickened out). It’s a bit I haven’t done before (although I thought of it back in August). I’m sure I’ll do it at some point (although it’s pretty stupid).
“And Then I…” – Another new bit that I also didn’t do.
Ray Liotta – An old bit that I didn’t do.
Frank Spencer, Android? – Previously only performed at Gig 14. It didn’t get anything (I outdid myself by using a 70s reference), but I quite like it. Probably just because it mentions Frank Spencer.
Fergie Swap – I had planned to finish with “My depressed friend” (another Gig 2 only classic), but I bailed and went with this instead. I’ve done this bit a few times – Gig 14, Gig 17, Gig 18 and Gig 21). I only remembered about it at the last minute, which is strange because it’s a bit that I always really liked. There’s two parts to it. The punchline to the first half is that there is no punchline. This got no reaction whatsoever, so I kind of went into a disjointed half-hearted version of the second half. I kind of liked the odd ending, so that was a positive (the audience not liking it might counterbalance that, though). I think I’ll probably give it another try.
Immediately post-gig, I didn’t really know what to make of it. It didn’t go great, but then it was a tough audience. The good thing about writing this blog – and please forgive this post’s verbosity\anal-retentiveness – is that it’s allowed me to make sense of what happened and clarify what I’ll do with the material I tried. Every performance is a learning experience, I just apologise for sharing it with you in such depth.