Gig 8. Where? Nice n’ Spiky, Regent’s Pub, Islington
Why? They let me.
Who Held my Hand? No-one. My friends are starting to learn.
What Occurred? I BLUSHED TO DEATH slowly with no-one to hold my hand. In a basement. With 12 other comics, all men, who DIDN’T CARE.
It was another bringer night where no-one brought anyone so we play to an audience of fellow acts, few of whom stay to the end. My bringer had bailed. I’d called ahead but no-one seems to mind…
The running order gets passed around. No-one hands it to me. They clearly think I’m someone’s mum who wandered down by mistake. Funny, because someone’s mum is in the audience. The one bringer. Sat in her coat, looking uncomfortable, slightly sullied and fiercely defensive of her baby-faced wannabe comic son. Like a big old sheep at Easter time.
Did I mention people use stand-up as therapy? DID I?? Well, this basement was a friggin psych ward in the Maudsley. Even I needed SSRI’s afterwards. One guy gets up and just says the word ‘F*CK’ loads. He admits he has no material and just swears at us. The MC has just missed out on a Comedy Competition and is beyond bitter. And not in a jokey way.
My face is ACHING with forced laughter. How can I not laugh?? There are 13 of us and NO ONE IS LAUGHING. AT ANYONE. The atmosphere is tense and MEAN. A really tall guy gets up and tells us off for not supporting each other. Not an ideal way to start his gig. I up the dial on my fake laughter like a lone mad woman laughing at the word ‘F*CK’.
As I’m the ONLY friendly face in the audience, I’m the one all the comics are talking to. Consequently, when I get up to do my 5 minutes, there is NO ONE there for me. Just a smattering of depressed, disinterested male faces. And one mother. So far she’s not laughed at anyone either. I address the coatfull of maternal promise with the desperation of an orphaned child. She glances above my head. I try to illicit her camaraderie on fancying Fireman Sam. She actually turns her whole face away so she’s looking at the back of the room.
I feel like I’ve been sold into comic service by ALL MOTHERS.
The blood rushes to my face and ears. Fortunately the lighting is low and the backdrop is red. I am a beetroot of shame but at least I blend.
The organisers sit at the back with the red light. This is my first experience of the LIGHT. I’m not sure if it goes off at 4.5 minutes or 5. I’ve forgotten to ask. It goes off. I bumble to an end and shuffle to my seat. If there is applause, I can’t hear it due to the pounding of BLOOD IN MY HEAD.
Then Baby-face comes on. His mum is the only one laughing. She soon stops, the silence battering her maternal love into submission. She looks into the audience – part blame, part realisation. It would be pitiful. But by now I have a migraine and want them all dead.
The final 10 minuter is great. A big Chinese German American with peircing eyes like the devil. His material is good, his presence is strong. And a bit scary. He tells us he’s practising for his 10 minutes at Comedy Store. The owner has told him “we need some alpha males who are going to dominate the crowd.”
What Did I Learn?
1. Not all mothers are nice mothers like mine.
2. Bringer nights need bringers.
3. I will never play the Comedy Store. Ever.