Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rocky-esque Violence

I did a gig in Reading last week. Well, I say gig ... it didn't feel like I did a gig, it felt like I had a fight. Which I think I nearly did - at least in the sense of being physically beaten to a pulp. It was in a place called Lower Earley, in the blandest, most characterless pub I have been in for a very long time. It was encouraging to learn on arrival that it had just been refurbished in an effort to wash away its image as a violent hole. Also encouraging was the complete lack of anything announcing that comedy was to take place, with not even an arrangement of chairs and a microphone to suggest anything was about to happen.

Anyway, I went on, and was handed the cheapest microphone money can buy, which was plugged into the smallest amplifier that exists, turned up so loud all it did was squeal painfully. Not that it mattered, no-one was even listening. Most of my time was spent having football songs chanted at me - before I was finally handed another microphone that was wired into the pub's PA system, but meant I had to stand at the bar itself and talk to them. At which point, a fifty year old man stood behind me and made some hilarious gestures, much to the amusement of everyone. I turned to speak to him, he began chanting "Reading" at me, I said something else, and he came at me, eyes bulging, chest puffed, fists clenched. So I walked off, and had a tiny little cry to myself. Everyone else did ok after me, so I singlehandedly failed to do my job. Pat Gallagher ripped it, like he always does these days.

What I needed to get over that was a friendly audience, but one I would have to work hard for. Luckily, that's exactly what I got when I did the opening support at a halls gig in Bristol. I really had to keep at it to sustain the energy levels, as did everyone all night, but it was rewarding. Then came the world's longest, windiest, most rollercoaster like drive to Machynlleth in Wales. It was vertigo inducing how the roads flowed, but luckily Mr Hodgson was there to whinge hilariously about it all the way there and back. A three and half hour drive to meet an audience drenched in apathy. I suppose it was a reflection of my performance that they weren't energetic and up for it, so I can't blame them.

And now I've just returned home from a jaunt to Birmingham. All straight roads, and an incredibly enthusiastic audience waiting at Atticus. I've never been at a gig and thought, no, there's too many people here - but tonight there was. They were packed in, and incredibly close to the stage, but the PA was amazingly good, as was the lighting. I got quite nervous beforehand, convinced I would struggle, but that vanished the moment the microphone hit my hand. I said hello, and someone shouted, "stand up", which I half heartedly batted back with "I'm a comedian, only smaller, so let's have some fun," which got a huge response, and from then on in, it was fairly plain sailing. I was poised and confident, and it's not often I come off stage feeling I couldn't have done any better. But no better could I have done me thinks. I learnt though that one piece works much better with a lull before it - but I cut the lull out tonight because I had limited time. Learning to pace your set is much fun.
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