Gig no 2. Where? The same frigging place as last time. Blackout at Up the Creek.
Why? Because I’m THAT stupid. Oh and I’m a terrier with a bone. Only it’s my own bone and I’m actually self-harming. Lesson number one from the last Blackout: first impressions are CRUCIAL. And talking of first impressions…
What did I Wear? I know, who cares? But this is important. Last time I looked like a CBBC presenter in an orange spotty blouse I have since BURNT. I opt for the most benign outfit I possess: jeans, white shirt, navy jumper. Geography teacher. Bullet-proof.
Who held my hand? My stand-up director friend again. Bribed by wine.
Material? Similar but I move the gender category stuff to the front:
“Right then. I’m a woman. Actually, “Cis Woman”. Heard of that? It’s a new category for straight people. Because we needed a new category didn’t we? We didn’t have enough categories. We needed a little someone in a little office – “Cis, tick. Gender Binary – ha haaa. Gender Fluid” That alarms me. Gender fluid. The least useful fluid – I mean, would it run a car? Clean a sink? I’m hoping it’s what they give menopausal women when they dry up.”
What happened? I’m on last. Out of 20 comics, I’m the only female. I’m so well placed, I CAN. NOT. FAIL. The crowd cheer when I come on because I am the novelty. You know, I could DO this…
I last 4 minutes 20 seconds – out of 5 (2 minutes better than last time). I dry twice. The first time BECAUSE I IMPROVISE. My 2nd gig and I improvise about the menopause – to a really young audience. Another comic who is performing (who couldn’t believe I’d made my first 2 gigs gong nights so he thought I was special needs) gave me some advice – do young stuff as it’s a young crowd. Did he actually mean change your material to suit the audience?? I had my material SET, FIXED, LAMINATED WITH FEAR. So what do I go up there and do? I talk about the menopause. And go off-topic. The audience SMELLS this and somehow stays with me, sensing danger, smelling blood. The bastards. Then I DRY. Coz I’m so excited by my own cleverness at improvising, I forget my actual material. I hadn’t written anything on my hand coz I thought that was cheating (it was in my school) so I just gabble. The first red light comes on with the first card. I actually mention it. Like the audience hasn’t noticed. I find my way back, do a bit more:
“So. I’m from a family of immigrants. We all swam over from Ireland to escape the regime of the evil potatoes. Some of us swam further than others to America but my mother’s maiden name is Bush so we don’t go there.”
I dry again. There were a few cheers when I mentioned Ireland and it’s distracted me. This time, they go in for the kill. They were being kind. I hadn’t learnt my material that well, I was intending to wing it on a couple of subjects – to sound a bit scatty, a bit ‘Ooo look I made this up on the spot, like Eddie Izzard.’ Thing is, live performance is like, LIVE. And stand-up is even LIVE-ER. Your brain works on too many levels to recall anything normal:
Where’s my mark? Where’s my light? What are the audience doing? How did that bit go? I want to shit my pants. Why is the mic making that noise? Oo they laughed. Did they laugh with me or at me? Why is that person leaving? I want to wee from my bottom.
If you don’t know your material inside-out-and-back-to-front and upside-f*cking-down, it will not just come to you. Your brain’s too busy with all this other shit.
Afterwards, my director friend says: “The Geography teacher look is good. You should do that in life.” She liked the Gender Fluid. We are approached by two middle-aged men at the bar who say they saw my first Blackout. “You’re the Liverpool girl.” Oooo I have a thing. I’m the Liverpool girl. My new comedy friend gives me more advice “You were very nervous, you need to do more stuff about who you are at the beginning. And don’t do another Gong Night for ages.”
1. Audiences can be kind. Don’t trust this.
2. Learn your material.
3. Learn it again.
4. Learn it backwards.
5. Don’t improvise until you know your material. Even the King of Improvisation, Eddie Izzard scripts his material. Every ‘eeerrr yeah’ is SCRIPTED. Listen to his albums and watch his DVDs – told you. Genius.
* BRIEF INTERLUDE *
The Comedy Promotor. So, I’ve decided to make my thing Scouse. Those guys had Jewishness, Muslim-ness, Italianess – I have to go full Scouse. I’ve been improvising in Scouse, taping myself improvising in Scouse. It sounds hard, bulletproof. It’s my thing.
Then I speak to a friend of my director friend (my wino plus-one) who is a West End Producer and used to be a Comedy Promotor. I tell him I’m doing Stand-up. He says “How many gigs have you done?” I say “Two. But I’m going to start doing them Scouse coz I need a thing and I think that might be my thing.” And he says “Ok. You need to do at least 300 gigs before you find your voice. I guarantee you’ll do the first 150 in Scouse and then drop it. Because it’s not your voice.”
So I have decided to fast-forward the first 150 gigs and not be Scouse. I told you, this thing is a frigging rollercoaster.