Friday, February 22, 2002

Sitting On The Sidelines

It's been a quiet week on the performance front so far. I did a gig at my regular try out place, the Bunch Of Grapes, which I approached with an attitude of "It's not the end of the world". Tried some new stuff which went fine, but more than anything, I felt comfortable. Confident. Something others noticed too.

Been an interesting week comedy wise, in spite of little or no stage time. I went to two evenings at Jesters to watch, and learnt a great deal on both nights. I find simply watching good comics to be a very fruitful exercise, and I'm not sure it's something that alot of open mic performers do enough. I've seen them leave before the evening is over and the best act has yet to be on. Although you need to be a little selfish about yourself, you can learn alot simply by taking the time to watch and dissect others, at whatever level they are. I find it hard to think that there's nothing I can learn by watching everyone. Anyway, rambling now.

Andrew Maxwell stormed the second night of the two I watched. He completely turned an apathetic Valentine's Day couple mini crowd around. Some of his words will stick with me for a while - "You're nervous? What the fuck for? Are you dying of cancer? No? Then get over it!" to a friend of mine who was about to go on. "Just do your time. That's really all anyone cares about. If you've been asked to do ten, then do ten. And if you die, you die. Die as often as you like, so long as you learn something each and every time you die. I gave up judging myself by the reaction of the crowd. I judge my own performance. It's all a fucking sideshow anyway. The lights, the microphone, the billing. It's a confidence trick. We might just as well roll into town and sell them some magic medicine!"

But most importantly - "I think we should all be wrestlers at some point in our lives!"

I'm eventually going to get off my slack bottom and start running my own fortnightly gig. In preparation for this, I am about to try my hand at being a compere again. That's this Sunday. I'll report back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The First Rule Of Comedy Club

Well, tonight went better than last night. Everything I said just seemed to work throughout my set. In fact, everyone on the bill had a great night. Especially Mr Cognito. A man with a microphone technique that borders on the sublime and an ability to be aggressive and endearing at exactly the same time. His singing voice is lovely too.

It's harder being constructive when it went well. I mentioned Hobbits tonight.

Monday, February 11, 2002

When Quieter Is Louder

Just got back from Exeter, where I did the amateur spot for Dave Gardner at the Mud Dock. Went okay, but I didn't feel like I had my normal rhythm. Ah well, try harder tomorrow.

One thing I discovered though (and this may be no great revelation) was this: Some elements of the crowd were chatty at the start of my set, and didn't stop until I actually began to talk more quietly. I guess by having to listen more, the noise died down. Isn't that an old teachers trick?

I mentioned Badgers on stage for the first time ever. Nice.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Guess I Should Post Something Helpful ...

... before I begin to drown in my own self-indulgent pomposity, I thought I would try and add something a little more helpful. It's a list of venues that I have played and really enjoyed for various reasons. Wherever possible, I have included a link to the website. Apologies to any non-UK readers as this is of no use whatsoever.

In no particular order: Jesters in Bristol; Kill For A Seat in Oxford, Reading and Birmingham; The Comedy Kav in Birmingham, Laughing Horses across London; The Comedy Clubs in Exeter and Newton Abbot; Komedia in Brighton; Amused Moose in London; and not forgetting the wonderful Bunch Of Grapes in Bristol.

In fact, the Bunch Of Grapes has become one of the most useful and fun places for me to be. It's a free night, with a very supportive promotor and landlord, where it is possible to try out immense amounts of new material week in week out. If you are lucky enough to have a venue where this is possible, then exploit it as much as you can. To have a place where you can hone material which you may not otherwise have a chance to incorporate into your set is invaluable.

Set In My Ways

There comes a time in every comedian's life that he will find himself having to perform on a sunny afternoon, to a tent full of festival hippies. This might seem a hard enough experience as it is, but for some reason, I decided to increase the stakes by choosing this place to launch a full new set of material.

It was in the summer, and I can't for the life of me remember why I had chosen to try out a new set, let alone why I decided to do it at the Bristol Community Festival, in a field. I think poets call it 'epiphany' and whisky addled alcoholics call it 'a moment of clarity', but I took a step back and realised that I didn't like hardly any of the material that I was doing.

So, in a rage of insomnia the night before, my mind conjured up reams of stuff that I just felt was better than what I had been doing. So I did it. And unlike my previous stuff, I haven't been bored of it ever since. It's much more free-form, and I have plenty more bits that I can mix and match with. With this new confidence in my stuff, I think I am beginning to be more confident on stage, and I'm pretty sure confidence is one of the biggest factors.

I'm sure this posting has a point, but I'm buggered if I can isolate it right now. It has something to do with Mariah Carey.

(By the way, the gig itself went well)

The Missing Months

Feck me to bastard and back. It's been ages since I actually wrote anything on this diary isn't it? So, I guess I'd better fill you in on the intervening months.

I got made redundant from my crappy part-time job. That was a really good thing, because they gave me loads of cash and I haven't had to work since. It also gave me more time and inclination to write and perform. So that's what I've been doing. An awful lot more writing for various shows, plus an awful lot more stand up.

I've also completely re-written my entire set (more on this at a later date). It's now much more akin to the sort of stuff I want to be saying. Before, there was some hack stuff in there, and an over-reliance on nob-gags that just bored me. I think I've improved too. I have much more confidence and I have been much more consistent.

I've also bought a giraffe.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

When In Doubt Mention A Monkey

Well, welcome to the all new and improved When In Doubt Mention A Monkey diary. A recap of the first nine installments can be found here. The idea from now on, is to have a more fresh and evolving journal of my musings from the world of stand up comedy, hence this new Blogger site. I plan to post something here after most of my "gigs", and hopefully at the times in between too when it takes my fancy. Let's hope it's not too self-indulgent and pretentious.

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