Gig no 3. Where? Comedy Virgins, Stockwell – LOOK, I’LL STOP RIGHT NOW COZ I CAN’T WAIT – I WON. I WON THE NIGHT. I WON A TROPHY. It’s as big as my thumb and has a barcode on it instead of my name BUT IT’S A TROPHY SO I AM NOW OFFICIALLY AN AWARD-WINNING COMIC.
Interjection: This. Means. NOTHING. As you’ll see from my next post where I DIE HORRIBLY. But for now, let’s simply enjoy the TROPHY WINNING EUPHORIA shall we.
Why Comedy Virgins? I needed someone to let me do 5 minutes without voting me off. CV is listed as a ‘safe environment’. I joined their FB page and someone had dropped out. This gig booking lark is easy. (It isn’t, I will learn).
What did I wear? Geography teacher. Not an actual Geography teacher. I didn’t wear his skin. Just the clothes.
Who Held my Hand? My stand-up director friend. Paid in wine. Wino.
Material? I needed 5 minutes. Tell them about yourself, I’d been told. And have a thing. My thing wasn’t Scouse. I don’t have the accent. But maybe that was my thing? I’m a Scouser without a Scouse accent. Excellent. Dress like a Geography teacher and talk posh. And then bring out the accent as a cunning surprise. Here was my opener:-
“I’ll get this in now so it’s not a big shock later on. I’m from Liverpool. They do come in posh – we’re quite rare. Never had the accent. Which is weird identity-wise. Because I think in Scouse but then Fiona Bruce does the translating. I’m thinking “Yer wha?” She’s typing with her Antiques Roadshow hands “I beg your pardon, would you mind repeating yourself?” Which is wrong, actually. “Yer wha” in Scouse is not a question. There are very few questions in Liverpool. “Yer wha” means “Turn around and f*ck off.” Similarly, “Who d’you think you are?” is not an invitation to give your family history.”
What happened? I got called 3rd. I’m getting used to how this feels. Hearing your name and feeling the wire loop round your neck pull you onstage like a cow into a slaughterhouse. And you have to do it Over. And over. Again. In front of a live audience. There is NO other way of rehearsing stand-up. You can do it at home, on the loo, in front of a friend if you’re brave. Nothing works except a live audience. To learn what ‘on a roll’, ‘storming it’, ‘DYING’ means. To learn to relax, remember to enjoy it, learn how to talk into a friggin mic (still can’t do this), how to handle the mic lead (nope), develop your walk/stance/voice, how to cope with competition. I am MASSIVELY competitive. When someone is shit, I pretend to think ‘Oh how inspiring’. I really think ‘YESSSSS, I AM BETTER THAN THAT F*CKER.’ When someone is good, I pretend to think ‘Oh how inspiring.’ I really think ‘GO F*CKING DIE, I AM NOT AS GOOD AS YOOOUUUU.’
There were some good people. A funny blonde who was scatty and likeable, a 70 yr old Indian man with excellent material and a drunk bloke who was dangerous and funny and just improvised (and who might have been high because his pupils were massive).
I got through my material, people occasionally laughed and I actually enjoyed some of it. I even improvised out of a mistake:
“I was on the platform and there was another guy down the other end doing his own business – not doing – he wasn’t shitting, he was minding his own – he wasn’t looking after his own shit – look, no one was shitting.”
That got a nice laugh. I felt brave. I got through to the cheer-off at the end. And I won. In big: I WON. Truth is, at Comedy Virgins, if you’ve won it before you can’t win again so the Indian guy was out of the running. Amazingly the drunk/high guy didn’t get a loud cheer so he was off too. It was just me and the other blonde girl left. I got a big cheer, so did she, then it came back to me and I got a louder cheer. She left the stage. I took my tiny plastic trophy and immediately put it on Facebook and got lots of likes. It is now by the telly next to my husband’s model of a spitfire – he’s very proud. (Although writing this, I notice it’s been relegated to the spare room. Bastard.)
1. Trophies mean everything. EVERYTHING. If the Indian man hadn’t won before, it wouldn’t have been me. If the other blonde girl hadn’t gone over time and dribbled out a bit at the end of her very good set, it would have been her. But WHO CARES? As soon as you win a trophy, you are allowed to say you are “Award-winning.” I AM AWARD- WINNING.
2. Trophies mean nothing. NOTHING. I kind of knew that when I won. This is my 3rd gig. I know NOTHING.
3. Never mention Fiona Bruce. No one gives a f*ck about her.
4. My right arm is possessed. Seriously, maybe one day, I’ll upload the tape (they send you yourself for a fiver). My right arm has a mind of its own. I’m amazed they even bought me a drink.
More info on Comedy Virgins, Cavendish Arms, Stockwell: You get 5 whole minutes at Comedy Virgins if you book in advance through their FB page. You can also turn up early and put your name down. They have around 20 acts a night and it’s a ‘bringer’ deal: you can only perform if you bring a friend and stay to the end (smart as that’s how they get their audience). There are bringer groups on FB if you run out of friends (it’s a loooong night). The crowd shouts “Buy em a drink” if they like you and at the end of the night, all those Bought-a-Drink go into a Cheer-Off to find the winner. A safe space for a beginner.