Gig 55: Comedy Cellar @ Verve Bar, Leeds – 8th May 2012
May 9, 2012 2 Comments
Pre-gig (12:30 on the day of the gig):
Usually when I write a ‘pre-gig’ section it’s because I’m not sure how I feel about the upcoming show or I’m not sure how it’s going to go. Today’s ‘pre-gig’ tranche is concerning something all together more practical.
The engine warning light on my car has been intermittently going on and off over the last week or so, eventually getting to a point where it was more on than off. I phoned the garage on Friday, and, because of the bank holiday, they could only fit me in today. Only I couldn’t take it in today, as I’m attending a seminar in Manchester (it’s hosted by Microsoft, before anybody asks if it’s about anything interesting). Since I’m performing in Leeds later, it didn’t really make sense to go home after the seminar, so there’s no way I could take my car in. Yesterday, the engine warning light decided to be more off than on, so I thought I’d get away with it.
This morning, I set off bright and early (for me) on course for Deansgate Hilton (ooooh, fancy) when I noticed that my car wasn’t really doing anything when I put my foot on the accelerator. I drive a Proton Savvy (yes, it’s real – google it) and its not exactly got a lot of grunt, but this was worryingly poor. I could barely make it around a roundabout in my attempt to get back home.
I made it back to mine and started to panic. I supposed I could walk to the train station and get to Manchester late, but then that would mean me missing out on the gig. (Technically I could get the train to Leeds, but it would mean getting home at 6am the next day, or something equally ridiculous). Given what was happening, the sensible option would be to cancel the gig and sort my car out, and I’m a sensible kind of guy.
Here’s the relevant part: I decided to give my car another go. It seemed to be driving normally. I found myself driving on the expressway on the way to the M62. I guess I really wanted to make it to the gig.
Only time (and subsequent blog post) will tell how stupid of a decision this turned out to be. I just hope that my ‘post-gig’ write up concentrates on intentional on stage comedy, rather than unintentional breakdown recovery service-based comedy.
So, my car managed to get me to Leeds and back, but that didn’t stop it being a slightly strange day.
Firstly, I was feeling monumentally tired, which in hindsight, was probably me feeling a bit under the weather rather than just being tired. Also, I was sat in a Microsoft seminar all day that was so mind-numbingly dull that even the concept of comedy seemed like a distant dream.
After the seminar I met up with my friend Vic, made an impromptu appearance on the radio and went for a ridiculously rushed tea at Frankie and Benny’s. This resulted in me leaving Manchester around 15 minutes later than I intended to. My sat nav said that I was due to arrive in Leeds at 20:10 and I was supposed to be at the venue at 20:00. I spent the drive to Yorkshire feeling unduly stressed at the thought of being a bit late. I think the fact that I wasn’t feeling great exacerbated how much this was bothering me, and it resulted in me not really being in the mood to have a last minute practice whilst driving.
I knew that all things being well, I would be at the venue for quarter past 8 and that would be fine. Only things didn’t go well. I took the wrong turning at one point (and anyone who has driven around Leeds city centre will know how easy that is to do – even with a sat nav). Now, the Google Navigation app on my phone used to be great, but since the latest update it steadfastly refuses to re-route if you go wrong. And even if you go out of the app and start the route from scratch, it still doesn’t work (it doesn’t make any sense). I knew that this was a possibilty, and had already downloaded another app onto my iPhone – it’s a work phone, I’m not having an affair – Skobbler’s Sat Nav 2. This is a free app and so seems singularly incapable of recognising dead-ends, one-way systems and pedestrianised zones, thus rendering it utterly useless in Leeds city centre. After a few frustrated laps, ending up where I started off, I gave the Google option another try. This failed again and I spent a frantic few minutes driving aimlessly, and seemingly on my way out of the city. By utter chance, the map was still on the screen and I spotted the destination come into view as a point on the map, and I was able to work out the vague direction I needed to go. Once I got back on what the phone considered to be the correct route, it started to tell me which way to go.
I parked my car and rushed across the street to the venue, getting there at half past 8 – the time the show was supposed to start. Luckily, it seemed as though quite a few of the other acts were just turning up, so I wasn’t noticably late. I was, however, too hot, flustered, a bit deaf (I assumed this was related to the high bit of the motorway) and desperate for my bed. I asked if it was OK if I went on in the first section – so I could sneak off in the interval – and I was asked if I minded going on first. Being the first act is often the hardest – as the audience isn’t fully warmed up – and I’ve never done it before, so I said yes. The room was nice and intimate, with a friendly atmosphere, however, most of the other people in attendance were other acts. This was also the night that I’d decided to try and be a bit looser with my set. I had the first 5 bits planned, and the last, but in-between I was just going to see how I felt on the night. In practice, this only meant picking 3 bits at my discretion, but at least it was a move in the direction of being a bit freer with my material.
What I did was:
The “lawyer-advised” Joke Book variant
“This really shifty bloke came up to me…”
”Can’t fight the Moonlight” – I don’t usually do this bit after “Arnie”, but I like the way that I can transition between them (although I haven’t got that transition quite right yet).
Telephone Books – This was the last thing I had definitely planned.
Dennis Hollyoaks – I’m still not sure about whether this is worth sticking with or not. I think I should probablytry a different story and see how it feels. I’m not entirely sure how I got so attached to this one.
“So she lost her job…”
One Day in Liverpool
I don’t think it went particularly well, but it can be hard to tell when your audience are mainly other comics. Picking the extra bits of material went fine, however, it did feel like a really weird performance overall. I wasn’t nervous and I approached the material as I normally would – taking my time and trying to maximise the awkward moments. I was in the moment and referenced my “stressful” journey as a way of segueing into some of the bits. I generally felt like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t feel quite right. I felt like I was a fraction off my game and it didn’t quite come together. This is probably the first time where the thing affecting me wasn’t nerves, so it was a really interesting learning experience.
I left the venue just after 9:30, which meant I’d had pretty much a 3 hour round trip to be there for an hour. That’s what being a fledgling comic is all about.