November 10, 2013 Leave a comment
I was asked by Adam Blaize and Sam Smith if I’d like a spot at their eponymous Greater Manchester Comedy Festival show. And I did want a spot. Thanks.
I decided that my Roy Walker story – last performed in February (Gig 96) – was long overdue a run out. It’s one of my favourite routines, and something that I want to develop more, but because it lasts a full 10 minutes, and ostensibly doesn’t contain any jokes, there aren’t that many opportunities for me to trot it out. I hoped that with another 8 months and 60 gigs under my belt, I’d be able to wring more from the ridiculous story. I did a number of run-throughs in the couple of days before the gig, and was pretty happy that I remembered the ins and outs of the tale. However, the set relies on a certain amount of improvisation – I have to get more panicked and rushed as time progresses, playing off the audience’s reactions – so there’s a large chunk that cannot be rehearsed.
The show was at the somewhat unusual slot of 10pm on a Thursday, but thankfully there was an audience of 10-15 people in attendance. As the show started, the audience were a little quiet, perhaps not helped by the large room and late starting time. As I waited to go on, I started to lose some faith in the concept and considered doing a more standard set. I decided to stick with it and just concentrate on the chance to work it, regardless of how well it went down.
The beginning didn’t go well. The routine consists of two elements; there’s the story itself and there’s the conceit that I’m not meant to be telling it but find myself too embroiled in the telling of it to get to my ‘actual’ material. I changed the way that I set this up in an attempt to make it more streamlined, but as soon as I started saying it, it became apparent that it didn’t really work. This meant that the whole opening to the section felt really clunky. It also became clear that the opening section of the story isn’t really set up properly, so this also felt clumsy. All in all, I made a bit of a hash of the opening. Things did improve as it progressed, thankfully, and although it never really took off, there were certainly moments that I liked and that I felt could be developed further.
It was a slightly strange gig, in that I was doing material that needed to be explored, and so was never going to blow the audience away. It might sound somewhat self indulgent to do this, but I think there’s really something in it if I keep digging. I think I probably need to do some work on the structure of the piece, and I’m pretty sure that it would work better in a spot longer than 10 minutes. The story itself consumes all the time at the moment, so there’s no space to mess around with. Perhaps my biggest mistake is waiting 8 months between performances. I need to be looking to book in the next iteration as soon as possible.