Gig no 9. Where? House of Idiot, Brixton
Why? Found out where a mate was gigging and totally crashed it.
Who held my hand? My mate and her husband were forced to out of politeness.
What happened? I GOT PAID A WHOLE TEN POUNDS. That’s £1 per minute – the best hourly rate in my LIFE. Yes that IS a picture of the actual one. And I’m framing it.
I didn’t quite gate-crash. They had a last minute drop out. I was asked to do “10 minutes of my wildest dreams”. I thought that might be a bit much, even for Brixton, so I worked on shunting two 5 minute bits together and squeezing in some new material about Mr Men.
The 2nd half belongs to Multiverse – a musical improv group that my friend, Liv, performs with. The 1st half belongs to the Idiots. Of which I am now one. Act 1 wears Mystic robes but is not a mystic. He plays weird sounds, holds up batteries and disturbs the 30-odd audience. YES PEOPLE, AN ACTUAL AUDIENCE. Act 2 is a Mad Professor Girl doing two slots, either side of me. I am the straight stand-up in a weird science sandwich. The clash is painful. Like hearing Coldplay in the middle of a Goth Disco. (I am NOT the comedy equivalent of Coldplay, sod off).
I change into Liv’s t’shirt, having texted her in a panic on the way back from taking an RSC workshop (shut up). I figure a shocking pink Midsummer Night’s Dream t’shirt saying “THOUGH SHE BE BUT LITTLE, SHE IS FIERCE” will get me killed at a stand-up gig in Brixton.
The room is small, the sound is bad so I decide not to use the mic. I am totally out of sync with the night, like a radio being tuned, I am just “off”. I spent 10 minutes twiddling the dial, sometimes it hits, sometimes I dither. I improvise some stuff about fancying Mr Strong:
“He’s the Alpha male of the Mr Men. Or at least he was. They’ve changed him. They’ve changed Mr Strong. He’s now triangular. Like a bodybuilder who only looks at the top half in the gym mirror. Big arms, wasted legs. They’ve ruined Mr Strong.”
Halfway through, I get a dry mouth. I do the Rob Brydon trick of biting your tongue to make your mouth water. It seems to work… But then I get possessed by the spirit of comedienne, Lou Sanders*.
When my own personality fails me, I often get possessed by another random one, usually someone I’ve seen recently on TV. Before now I’ve been Fern Britton, Gary Oldman and one of the Hairy Bikers. FACT.
*This may suggest Lou Sanders is dead. She’s not (just checked), she’s just been on my mind recently as I’d seen her in a Blackout audience. She has this thing where she gets breathy and laughs at the end of a line. She also has a weak ‘r’. It kinda adds up to make her scatty and bulletproof. Sara Pascoe does similar things. Without meaning to, I turn into Lou Sanders. Just not as funny.
So I waffle on, not tight enough, not funny enough. Afterwards, Liv’s husband Kev gives me notes (this is the same irrepressible Irishman who took my photos at Blackout).
Kev’s notes: (I may have paraphrased):
1. You got the biggest laughs in the first half. (Remember the other acts in the first half?)
2. Use the mic. The mic is for stand-up comedy. Without it, you’re kinda not doing stand-up comedy. Talk quietly, let the mic pick it up. Watch Stewart Lee, he does that. Do what Stewart Lee does.
3. Stand still. Stop wandering about like a Lou Sanders tribute act. (He didn’t know I was being Lou Sanders. I added that bit IN MY HEAD).
Then the 2nd half starts and Multiverse come on. The last time I saw a comic ask the audience for a word to improvise a song it was at King Gong. They told him to “F*ck off”. This audience is nicer. Multiverse are proper clever. They deliver an entire MUSICAL based on audience suggestions with a story arc and returning characters. Liv (Olivia Mace) is one of their top performers. She could wipe the stage with Josie Lawrence. Her voice is great, her songs are funny and she does proper RHYMES and stuff. Her solo number “Look at Those Gays” brings the house down. She’s since informed me she bettered that a month later with a song about the clitoris. Never recorded. Tch.
What I Learned:
- USE A MIC.
- Lou Sanders is better at being Lou Sanders.
- People are generally horrified about Mr Strong.
NEXT POST: Look out for my interview with Liv (Olivia Mace) where she talks Victoria Wood, improvising songs in caravans and sharing a stage with Neil Mullarky.
More Venue Info: Market House Pub, Brixton. The lovely Jonathan Richardson runs House of Idiot every Wednesday (Multiverse play every month). He’s a great compere, totally at home in front of an audience. The night is for the weird and the experimental. It does actually get an audience. They’re encouraged to put money in a bucket at the end and the acts actually see the money. SOMETIMES A WHOLE TEN POUNDS OF THE STUFF.