Gig no: 21. Where? Lion’s Den Comedy, Bar Rumba, Shaftesbury Avenue.


Who Held My Hand? My director wino friend. Soho is her church.

What Happened? **RARE video footage below.** Yeah, I headlined another comedy gig. By accident. Maybe this is how I will advance in this career. Wander onstage at the Hammersmith Apollo after being mistaken for a cleaner.

Tim, Lions
The lovely Tim Rendle. On a rare occasion of not smiling. 

There’s a queue of comics at the entrance to this subterranean night club waiting to pay a fiver. You PAY TO PERFORM? Warning bells. My career is going backwards. Am I now paying people to let me do comedy? Then I meet Tim, the promotor who gave me this gig – my first 7 minutes – after watching my Blackout clip. Tim is a lovely smiley man currently sitting behind a cash box. I find 5 coins and hand them over – what the hell. He looks alarmed: “Oh you’re not paying, you’re headlining.”

The other comics stare at me with ill-disguised surprise. I aim for: “course, yeah, I’m headlining, you mutherfukkas like a comedy headlining BI-ATCH” but my face says JEEEESUSCHRISTSHITABRICK. This is another Fighting Cocks experience where the promotor thinks I’m an experienced comic. But Tim saw my clip – he knows what I am. Suuuurely.

One guy certainly does. A bloke peels off from the queue. “I saw you at Rising Star on Sunday,” he says. Always a winner that to a performer. “ I saw you perform.” followed by a silence and then they walk away. F*ck him. I’m a headliner.

Still, feeling like a charlatan TWAT, I head down the red-lit staircase to change out of my jolly t-shirt into something more sophisticated incase I am killed for being a children’s entertainer. It’s sophisticated, dark, just like a West End club, especially when I find the curtained off area avec pole…

The mind goes straight to how this room gets used the rest of the week. I have recorded my first reaction for your entertainment:


The aim is to use this 7 minutes to practise for So You Think You’re Funny, but this time get the material in the right order. The nerves are coming back and I’m SCARED. This is no cozy room above a pub, this is where the West End overspill is from Soho. This is where grown-ups come for grown-up entertainment. I have zero nob jokes.

And zero heckle put-downs. Despite telling myself to learn some.

My mouth is dry already. Water is making my mouth more dry. Water is a c*nt. How do you stop being intimidated by other comics? They’re an unknown quantity, that’s why. They’re all potential hilarious stars in the making who will shame you with their talent. I try to remember that quote: “Confidence will come. Arrogance is no substitute.” There’s no audience yet. If this is another night of playing to just other comics around a stripper’s pole, this will be hard.

Lions Den inside
Where it ALL happens.

Director wino friend is late. I forget to tell her the £5 door charge. Oh yeah, everyone pays but yours truly it seems. I am to close the 1st half. One of the comics is a beautiful tall model-type with a 6” waist. I want to actually do a poo. My wino pall turns up and so does an audience. We meet a woman called Felix who is talkative and Australian and does this gig every week. She has an array of notes singing the table. I haven’t written anything new in weeks.

The compere is old and old-fashioned. And LICKS THE POLE. All of us want to puke. The atmosphere is prickly. Blokey. Intimidating. The Pole Licker picks names out of a hat and I end up closing after the model with the 6” waist.

My first line is: “Yeah, put me on after the Victoria Secrets Model. I feel like Lisa Dunham at a Taylor Swift party.” A Katherine Ryan in-joke. It gets a laugh.

The model girl is extraordinary. She begins by telling us all she’s so beautiful she doesn’t need to be funny. Then kinda proves herself wrong. The men in the room are confused by the mixed signals from their brains and their willies. This is a blokey audience so I push a little hard but I get good laughs and don’t get heckled or die. I do, however, touch the pole again by accident. To be honest, I’m more concerned about the compere’s saliva than any stripper juice.

I thank Tim and make my excuses to go at the interval. I feel guilty making Wino stay – she’s hungry and we want to chat. Some of the others have already left, including the guy who said he’d seen me and made NO COMMENT. Tim is so nice and smiley, he lets me. I make a mental note not to do this again.

Wino mate has good notes over crispy duck:

a) Set up the Acronym Code better. You rush into it so we’re playing catch up rather than finding it funny. Ahhhhh…

b) Create a call back between Uniform dating and Scouser in Paris by the latter proving you never needed a uniform in the first place. Genius.

c) Make the Scouse rant longer and better. Again, genius.

d) Be 10% less manic and loud. Oh f*ck off.

There’s a reason she gets so much wine from me.

What I Have Learned:

  1. All of the above. I will do my rewrites on the train.


Lions logo