Friday, March 31, 2006

The Stomach For It

I scared another comedian into wanting to get better. That's a proud moment in my life. And I'm not telling you who either, just someone I respect and admire for their funny bones. On top of that, Mr Gary Delaney, one of the nicest people I've ever met on my comedic travels, sent me a text describing my set as "impressive stuff". So what better way to open a post with some unashamed bragging?

Right, first up came a gig at Pitville Campus in Gloucester. Oddly enough, the line up featured exactly the same faces as my previous Gloucester jaunt a few weeks ago. The support did a much better job for the eager students, and I went on after the break. I had been feeling odd all night, the reason for which became apparent on my journey home, but I was more focused on the gig at the time. Nerves were jangling in my brain because I had decided that if I could talk about my Gran to a room full of students, and make it work, I can make it work anywhere. Consequently, I blew my opening gambits, partly because the crowd still hadn't settled, but mostly because I was too eager to get to the meaty stuff. When I did get there, it was well received, but rather than talking to them, I performed it, and as a result it lost a lot of its heart.

I'm loathe to read too much into my performance that night because on the way home, it became readily apparent that I had Gastric Flu. Or more precisely, the officially named Winter Vomiting Disease. That's far too twee and doesn't do it any justice. I wasn't coughing up snowflakes. You might just as well call it the Magical Illness of Narnia. I'm still recovering from it now to be honest.

Luckily, I'd got over the worst of it by the time of my next gig in Cardiff. This was for Sian Perry, and was in a Hawaiian Bar (which served Chinese food). The free buffet had settled everyone down, though the smell from it made my delicate stomach a tad billious. Did the same set, and struggled at the start because I was playing to the wrong part of the room, confusing the main body of the audience. And again I over performed the stuff about my Gran, learning a valuable lesson that this stuff should just be conversational, not performance.

That's the lesson I took to the subsequent gig in Bristol. The Lansdown was mostly empty, and was hard work. For such a timid audience, I managed not to fall into the trap of drawing attention to how quiet they were, and battled through my set. The bits about my Gran had a much greater resonance, personally, and hopefully for the audience too, because I just told them it instead. I also added another story which I was worried would just be depressing and not funny ... but it was. Very.

That's when Mr Delaney asked if he could give me some notes about my performance - which was wonderful. He didn't just say well done, he actually had constructive comments too. I won't recite what he said word for word, but it made me feel proud of my set in a way I never have before. He also pointed out some extra flavours I could add to the funnies without losing the tone of the piece. I'm starting to feel like the comedian I've always wanted to be.

The meetings were all pretty much a waste of time - except BBC Bristol. And still no news on the broadcast date for Resonance.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


My Gran died at the start of last week. I chose to commemorate her by devoting my entire set to her at my next gig. Whether or not this was the right thing to do from an emotional or decency perspective, I don't know - but it does seem to be the way I can work through things in a healthy manner these days. It also informs my set and performance with an emotional resonance that it has always been lacking. I did a good gig, and it's quite telling that a few people approached me and told me it was the best they had seen me by a long way. Personally I felt it wasn't my best performance, but the material did seem right somehow. I'll have another chance to do it some justice in Gloucester soon, and again in Cardiff. We'll see.

I also find myself in the middle of a spate of meetings at the moment. The other day I was at BBC Radio Bristol hocking my wares, tomorrow I am in London at Channel X, and the day after I'm meeting someone at South West Screen. The show for Resonance FM is transmitting soon, but I don't yet know what date.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


If you get the chance to spend an afternoon in a professionally equipped sound studio, with two talented performers, take it my friends. Jon and iszi did some sterling work when we recorded Lying On A Bench. I might put a page together on my website about the process, as well as a link to the show itself, after it's aired on Resonance FM. But then again, I might be too busy.

Apparently it's been nearly two years since I last played the Guildhall in Gloucester for Mr Nik Hill, but I'm sure I've been there once or twice to watch since. The crowd were quite subdued, and I thought my performance may have been too energetic, but Nik told me it was just what the show needed, and used the phrase "confident and powerful" in his review of me on Chortle, which was nice to read. It went pretty well, not nearly as good as Jesters, but good nonetheless. Blew a few lines from sheer incompetence, but it was enjoyable.

I'm lining up meetings with lots of people regards sketch show ideas, which seems all very grown up for me. I've also been watching Russell Howard and Mark Olver put together their Edinburgh shows at the Alma Tavern this week. It's fun to be part of that process. The room is great, and I am tempted to hire it myself in order to force me to write a lot more material. We'll see.
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