Thursday, March 31, 2005

Up For It In Kinver

Well, at least everyone else seemed up for it there. A nice easy drive up the motorway, playing two new driving games, all inspired by Mr Jon Richardson, who wonderfully drove us to Nottingham a few days before. The Lorry Game, wherein you and your co-travellers pick a supermarket and get a point for every lorry from that supermarket which you pass. It being Easter Weekend, the score was low, but I have to say, I did win.

The Caravan Game, wherein you whisper the word Gypsies everytime you pass a caravan. Both fun games, both more pleasing than the gig I did when we eventually got to Kinver.

Mr Andy Hobo always puts on a good gig, always brings an audience, and always asks me to do a spot or two for him. The room was packed, they had been nicely fed with curry, and I was sure they would indeed by Up For It as the brand suggested. They were, except they wouldn't shut up. Or more precisely, two people wouldn't shut up, and kept interrupting. Not even heckling, just interrupting, and there's only so many times you can politely, or impolitely, ask someone to shut up before you get bored and bore your audience. So I gave up, stopped performing, and just painted by numbers until I had done my time. Most lazy, most unprofessional, but at least I did my time. Did another rendition of Blue Socks too, just to run through it. Got nothing.

By the time Iszi Lawrence went on, the chatty ones had left, and so she had an exceptionally good gig, worked hard, but it was by far the best I've seen her. She can easily do a good solid twenty now. I had to leave before Mr Bill Bruce went on, but from all accounts, he blew the roof off.

It's been fairly uneventful since. I did watch Adaptation though, and it inspired me to sit down and do some writing. I'm following the Chuck Palanhiuk method, writing self contained short stories with recurring characters and seeing if it molds itself into a cohesive novel structure. I need a break from scripts, so prose seemed a fun alternative. I'm writing about something I know. Well, the only two things I know for sure, how to write, and what's going on in my head. It's an exercise in exorcising my thoughts. Much like this blog.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Blue Socks Rocks

A regular reader, Mr Mackin, asked after the Genesis of a Joke project this evening, and I am ashamed to say that it has gone no further. This may be because I'm allowing the ideas to slowly gestate in my head, or it may just be a result of bone idle laziness and not knowing where my head is at any given moment in time. That said, whenever I outline the structure of the piece, people seem to make positive noises.

I had a comedian's day out type device on Thursday. The very nice, Mr Owen Niblock, graced the pavements of Bristol with his stick dulcimer presence, and so I took it upon myself to entertain him before his gig. We ended up munching gigantic pub burgers in The Hatchet, which is a lovely pub in the afternoons, with a much different atmosphere about it than when we do the comedy there. Anyway, we talked far too much about stand up, not enough about writing, and more about stand up. He's possibly the hardest working comedian I know, very focused, very determined, and a nice bloke to boot. He guilts me into booking more gigs and doing more writing.

So, like a trooper, I spent the next few days sulking and feeling incredibly sorry for myself for no apparent reason.

Which is how I found myself as I returned to the Hatchet, this time to try out some new material that has been bouncing around for some time without an airing. I went on first, after our compere for the evening scared everyone out of their pants asking people to stop talking. It made it a little tougher, but I've come on to worse, and it seemed fairly easy to warm them up a little. A bit of banter, some smiles, and some bankable one liners soon got them all back in the groove, which shifted nicely into Blue Socks. The full written version of this material can be found on the Bawdy Blog (see links below), but I have deliberately not committed it to memory because it is far too wordy. So, on stage, I did a compressed version, getting the basic beats right, using the chorus properly (ie, if only I had some socks), setting the tone for the Sock Shop denouement, and getting a spontaneous round of applause for the punchline.

It's quite nice when stuff works how you imagine it will. I feel much more confident that I can deliver the trickier material I write for myself, now I have some more performance tools. I was pleased with Blue Socks, and so did something else that's hard work to deliver, Prime Minister's Teeth, which also went down well, and got applause for the punchline too.

All in all a fun set to do, and it's left me feeling happier than I was. Which is nice. I should try out new stuff more often.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Triumvirate Of Apathy

It's been a busy few days. And I feel guilty that I haven't actually done any writing, not even the odd one liner for the set. That's probably because my mind is elsewhere, and has been for many many months now.

Anyway. There's three gigs to talk about. None of them particularly worth mentioning. I returned to the Hatchet in Bristol for the first time in the Pope knows how long, to compere for the first time in ages. The best word to describe it would be "Shambolic". My mind had been elsewhere all day, due to Dad being very ill, but that really is no excuse for what was essentially an exercise in how not to host a gig. With no preparation, I resorted to material between acts, which didn't work. There was a distinct lack of rapport between myself and the audience, and I completely failed to energise a lacklustre crowd. Pour scorn on me.

Next up, came The Green Room in Cheltenham, promoted and booked by Mr Nik Hill and Mr Demeteris Deech. It's a cosy little venue, with a lot of effort poured into it's promotion. I even stole a poster because it was so nice and had my name on it. I was due on second, but at the last minute I got asked to swap and go on first. Which I did. Fairly unsuccessfully, it has to be said. The older crowd didn't dig my groove, and kind of just sat there smiling appreciatively. At the back, a group of local "twats" I believe is the correct term, there to watch their mate do his first gig, were very talkative and loud. They didn't even shut up when he came on later. I cut it short to stop the atmosphere deflating any further. That's how it felt as I left the stage, but by the end of the night, I felt that I couldn't have done much better in that spot anyway.

And as for the guy who was there with his mates, I hate to say it, but he was probably the worst act I've ever seen. He failed to arrive on stage when the audience applauded him on, and when he did finally sheepishly get to the microphone, he did a weird half impression of Rollie Birkin from the Fast Show, minus the jokes, started a bit of material about health warnings on cigarette packets, got mildly heckled and proceeded to say someone was fat over and over again, and then, for someone so reluctant to take the stage, he had to have the microphone physically taken from him. Dreadful. Oh, very, dear. I think he thought you could stand there and make it up as you go along, even the first time.

And then came Cov-Tickles, the former Hilarious gig in Coventry. Okse was our compere, and Mr Nick Page our Headliner. A nice enough room, with a dwindling audience, I found it hard to keep their attention. It reminded me of the gig I did in Newport, with the notion of diminishing returns, but my final callback got the best response it's had in ages, so that was nice enough. And Mr Page did an excellent job. He gets better each time I see him.

But it's not all gigging at the moment. I've pitched a sitcom to Channel Five of all places, off the back of the well-received Hodgson pilot, and I am hoping to get some work on a recently commissioned Endemol show which is being produced in Bristol. But now I've mentioned both of those, nothing will come of them. That's my luck.
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