Gig 5. Where? Sara Pascoe’s Work-in-Progress, Camden Head.
Why? She asked me, motherf*ckers!
Who held my hand? My husband, his mate and my film-blogger mate, Ian. They ALL came for Pascoe.
What happened? Just incase we’ve forgotten, I am an award-winning comic. But as King Gong DEATH taught me, this means NOTHING. I must test, re-test and possibly re-write and CULL the material that won me fool’s gold at Comedy Virgins and buried me at Gong. Now. I am the LEAST connected person on the planet. I’m shit at networking and put social shmooching up there with smear tests. I dredge through my life and realise that Sara Pascoe once saw a play of mine in Edinburgh and I’d managed to steal her mobile number. I’ve made a personal pledge not to ask a comic for help without buying tickets to their show – then it’s not just a cheeky favour, I’VE PAID THEM TO BE CHARITABLE. I google Pascoe, buy tickets to a gig of hers, then text to remind her of who the hell I AM and might it be possible to chat afterwards? And she asks me to do 10 minutes. My first thought is “what a waste of £12” closely followed by “how nice is Sara Pascoe?”
Fast forward to the tiny Heady paradise of Camden. I am still reeling from Gong and practically inject the free drink I’m given. FREE DRINK. FOR PERFORMING COMEDY. The compere from the first Blackout I did is there. He seems alarmed I’m on the bill as he is obviously good and I am weak. A newborn calf who can’t last 5 minutes at a Gong night. I need another drink. I shouldn’t drink before a gig. Another comic is getting rat arsed on wine already. I wonder if I should get twatted and be the female Johnny Vegas. Maybe that could be my thing. Instead, I take some more paracetamol and codeine, not reading the packet… I am losing my voice (it started to go after Gong, a clear sign I should never open my mouth again). So I’m on cold drugs and already feeling out of it. I get called up 4th and croak an impromptu line into the mic about cold drugs and blocked ears feeling like clubbing but without the fun.
Worrying thing: the line had flashed into my head as something amusing I could say and just as I decided it isn’t at all funny, I found myself SAYING IT ACTUALLY OUT LOUD into a microphone in front of a live audience.
Is this the drugs/virus combo or the misguided twat who will go on to murder live comedy? Time and this blog shall see… Anyway, it gets a polite laugh from a crowd thinking “bless her, she’s trying that improv thing – the thing comics do that makes us deeply uncomfortable.” If it had been King Gong, I’d have had a glass thrown at my head. Probably with a cock inside it.
It gets better. Everyone before me had their stuff written on their hands and on paper. I tell the audience this is my 5th gig and I didn’t know you could do that on new material nights so I’m going to look at my blank hand every so often to fit in. This gets a nice laugh. I launch into my Scouser Abroad stuff including my new ad-lib about the French Metro man shitting himself, this time cleverly rehearsed in my kitchen to sound like an improvised mistake. They love it. I’m keeping it in, it sounds like I fuck up and then create something hilarious out of my mistake. I AM Eddie Izzard.
Then I see her. A few rows back on the right, a SOUR-FACED EVIL WOMAN who clearly wants to KILL ME. I look away. But her face is branded on my eyeballs like a burning light filament. I’ve heard about these people. The whole audience can be in stitches and all you can see is the one gob giving you evils. And there is mine, sitting amidst a sea of smiley, generous, pleasantly surprised faces like a verruca in a crowded pool.
Anyway, f*ck her. I manage 6.5 minutes of my planned 10 before my voice gives out and I have to get off. My husband says he’s proud and I was genuinely funny. And he NEVER LIES. Afterwards, I attempt to schmooze with Sara Pascoe and her lovely comedy friends. There are some seriously talented women in the building but my voice is destroyed. I sound like Johnny Cash. As Sara Pascoe is accosted by my entourage for photos, she tells me she had people coming up to her saying they couldn’t believe it was my 5th gig. That’s nice. Then I worry she might think I lied. I get awkward again. I hint at a future gig at the Camden Head. Nothing is said.
I mention I’ve done King Gong and this produces a mix of derisive laughter and utter horror from the other comics. Pascoe says she’s never done it, “I don’t understand the point of it,” she says. “It goes against everything this is about.” Sara Pascoe is a natural, very likeable and at ease onstage – chatty, scrappy, and incredibly erudite. Her stuff about why you enjoy theatre only because you’re happy when it ends is genius. This is a gentle, supportive night. A world away from the Comedy Store bear pit. But maybe you need both. There are all kinds of nights out there. Stag and Hen do’s, Office Parties, Working Men’s Clubs, Corporates – not that I’m anywhere near a paid gig but they’re out there waiting, like Scary Foot Warts.
Since this post, I’ve been contacted by a guy who was there at my King Gong Death and said apparently it was bad, even by Comedy Store standards.
Does that make it better or worse..?!
What I Learned:
1. Next time someone asks you to do 10 minutes. Do 10 minutes. Even if you have to buy a voice the next day. You need every minute onstage you can get.
2. On new material nights, you can write on your hands. And hold paper. Even Frankie Boyle reads out jokes from a pad and scours the audience to check everyone is laughing. VERRUCA-FACE wouldn’t laugh of course. And Frankie Boyle would destroy her.
3. People use stand-up as therapy. There’s to be a net that catches them at the 5min Open Mic stage, the bottom rung of stand-up – where I am. One of the acts was clearly going through some STUFF – and for waaaay longer than 10 minutes. The audience at Camden Head were very kind and said nothing. King Gong would have pulled her like PORK.
4. Apparently Katherine Ryan has a pet cat called Sara Pascoe coz they’re friends. Maybe when I’m friends with Sara Pascoe, she’ll name a cat after me. Perhaps this is how networking in comedy goes. I’ll get a cat. When I get my first fan.
MORE ON THE VENUE:
Lovely, funny L-shaped room above a gorgeous pub. The comedy stuff however, is run by individual promoters that change and vary. Camden Comedy Club can pass your details on to them if you ask. I’ve emailed, I’m waiting…