May 10, 2013 1 Comment
At the first TWCNiS (Gig 104) I died on my arse.
I had to pull out of the second TWCNiS (STILL NOT Gig 106) due to illness.
What would the third TWCNiS bring me? Well, it would bring me THIS:
I was due to MC the night, and since I don’t have regular set pieces for this night (as I do at The Beech Inn), I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. I had some new “jokes” written and thought I’d have a few short stories on standby, should I need them.
When I got to the venue, I had a look in the room and there were 10-15 people sat around. They didn’t look like comedy night types, so I assumed they were a group of locals who didn’t realise what they were about to be subjected to. As it turned out, 4 of the night’s spots would be taken by first time acts – who had recently completed a course run by Big Lou Jones – and a load of friends had come along to support them. Now, given that they were of a slighter older democratic and they didn’t seem like comedy regulars (I hate to make snap judgements about people but, you know, sometimes you have to), I didn’t think that they’d necessarily go for intentionally corny jokes or whimsical short stories. I decided to just go with some audience interaction and take it from there.
The opening section seemed to go OK (it wasn’t amazing, but it could have been much worse). There were a few characters to chat with, which helped but I kept things relatively brief, and brought on the 3 acts pretty snappily. The second section was hosted by Lou who brought on his 4 pupils, and the audience were really warm and supportive. All the acts did well for their first ever gigs. Due to an organisational quirk, there ended up being only 1 act for the final section. By this point, the audience had been laughing regularly and were engaged in the night, so I thought I might try out some ‘joke book’ jokes, just to see what happened. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t work:
AUDIENCE MEMBER (to her friend): They’re just like Christmas cracker jokes.
ME: I know, that’s the point.
It was all a bit awkward, but I knew it was a risk, so I just went with it.
Overall, it was a strange experience. On one hand, I was really pleased with my proactive decision to go solely with audience chat, rather than trying to crowbar my own style/material onto the them. This is something I should have done at Gig 82, but didn’t, and it’s something that I’ve been conscious of ever since, without being to act upon it. I didn’t exactly storm the opening section, but I think I made the correct decision. On the other hand, I didn’t feel that I was able to be funny in a way that I wanted to, and that was a bit frustrating.
Telling my jokes was an incredibly humbling experience. I’ve told those jokes many times before and got laughs from them (and the way that I tell them), but on this occasion they were just utter crap. I was getting incredulous looks from the audience; their expressions seemed to be saying ‘how can someone telling such bad jokes be the MC of this night?’. It was a lesson in the fragility of comedy. As I’ve written previously – see here – context is king. You can’t fake laughter and if someone doesn’t think you’re funny then you’re not funny. It’s one of the scary things about stand up, but, ultimately, it’s what makes it so magical.