Gigs no: 66 & 67
Gig no: 66
In which I travel further oop North than John Snow, turn up the Scouse and discover a gem in Zone 4.
Where? Colindale Comedy @ The Chandos
Why? I asked.
Who Held My Hand? Not a bringer.
It’s a long way to Colindale. To be honest, I don’t know where Colindale is. Turns out Colindale is so far up the Northern line, I can hear my Scouse accent coming back. I decide to open with this as I’ve not done this routine in ages and it needs a stronger start.
As ever with a gig I’ve not done before, I walk into a pub and just look for people who might be looking for comedians. I meet Polly Penter, whose night this is and the lovely Nicole Harris, who I’ve seen shout down the jazz at Jazz Comedy, and who is guest MC tonight.
It’s her finest hour. Last bit of feedback I got from an audient (audience member singular) on female comedians was awesome: “Usually, I don’t like them coz they just moan.” To have an entire gig in the hands of a sharp, competent funny woman makes me proud. Especially as I see many male MCs kill an audience on a regular basis (Sexy Pepsi anyone?)
Nicole RULES this evening. She strikes up a quick rapport with a table of students, who be of them called Lucas is in shorts on a winter night. Somehow he ends up talking about how much money it’d take for him to shag a donkey and we’re off.
Dave Black is here, he’s a regular in Colindale and he kills it as usual. Leighton Roff also has a blast. There’s a new guy who says he also has autism (as does Roff) – it’s his first gig and I can’t make up my mind if he’s terrible or a genius – this can be common with comics. Either way he seems to have a hard time enjoying himself.
I’m aware I’ve not gigged in over 2 weeks due to work and I’ve also got a 15 min gig and my first corporate to build up to. I need the 5min grafts. This is a loose 5mins I’m told so I’m hoping my intro works – which includes talking to Lucas about the donkey.
You work with what you’re given.
Anyway, it generates instant laughs, I win over the room quickly and don’t lose them. Going home I’m annoyed I can’t do this most nights. When it goes well, its got most things beat. Donkey shagging included.
Gig No: 67
Where I die, silently, below ground in a West End basement.
Where? Lions Den, Bar Rumba, SHAFTesbury Avenue
Why? It’s eeeevil and I LEARN
Who Held My Hand? Why subject anyone I love to this.
What Happened? I’ve not comedied enough recently as I’ve been working in Guildford. Why’s that an excuse there are children who cross war zones to school. SHUT UP PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT NEVER TAKE SOUTH WEST TRAINS.
So I’m out of practice. Last gig I did Scouse stuff and it went great. This time, for some unknown reason, my set gets angry. I shout a lot. I’m not nervous, I keep my confidence but no one is enjoying this. At. All. Maybe I’ve taken the attack side of the Scouse impression too far, maybe the mostly-male audience just prefer strippers round the Lions Den pole?
I’m being mean, if no men came to this gig it would be an empty room with one chrome bar and a loud Australian woman called Felix.
I’m introduced by Boyce Bailey the MC who, as I’m a guest 10, orders a standing ovation. I get one as I walk up, 30 men standing clapping some random older woman. They’re in their seats and utterly silent by the time I put my hand on the mic. No matter. It’s my job to make it work. I don’t. I bomb. In mostly bored silence. I can feel the waves of dislike. Strangely I don’t get nervous, I just bulldoze on. Like a terrible interminable truck of doomed jokes. Like the big Joker’s lorry in Batman that flips over in slo-motion. And crashes. And no one cares. Not even Heath Ledger. And now he’s dead.
This is a crucial gig too. I’ve got my 2nd 15mins next week in Brixton and I’m planning on doing all the material I am currently hitting tarmac headfirst with.
Afterwards I stay standing at the back, too embarrassed to sit, move, even leave.
Lovely promoter Tim Rendle sidles over immediately and apologises, saying he doesn’t know what happened. I do. I was shit. I’ve never bombed Lions Den before – and they give me regular 10 spots.
Boyce hovers. I can’t resist asking. “What did I do?” I ask. “That was so shit.”
His reply is steady, measured and comes from a well travelled distant barren land of comics who’ve died over and over. That place.
“They’re probably all sitting there thinking of sausages. They don’t give a fuck about Liverpool. Or you.”
It’s one of the best things anyone’s ever said to me.
That night Tim texts to thank me for the gig. “Don’t worry – you’re welcome back,” he says. “I’m thinking why too. Perhaps too angry? I don’t know. Perhaps frame anger in a happy frame… “
What I learned:
1. They’re probably all sitting there thinking of sausages.
3. They don’t give a fuck about Liverpool.
5. Or me.