Gig 2 – Underground Comedy Club (Thomas Reads)

Gig 2 – Underground Comedy Club (Thomas Reads), Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, 17th September 2009

Thinking back…

Pre show:

Incredibly nervous, pacing back and forth, stretching back stage, running out into the bar. Having my friends there made it so much worse.

Show:

This was the first gig I told my friends about. I invited perhaps 40 people via Facebook, and maybe 20 actually showed up. In retrospect, I should have waited! I was pretty put off, only really addressing them rather than the room (tip – talk to the folks laughing, not the folks sitting in silence, this reinforces their ‘good’ behaviour), and spoke way way too quickly. To my surprise the blasphemy stuff I’d dropped from the first gig didn’t go over that well at all. I think this is because I didn’t spent long enough contextualising it. Also, it has a gestural component and I perhaps wasn’t secure enough in myself for that on the night.

The Underground is a great club, and Mc Savage had absolutely blown the place apart a week before; but overall the crown were pretty dead that night (including my friends!) and only the head-liner Rory O’Hanlon (who’s just played Edinburgh) got a really good reception.

The MC had been picking at my friends with fairly cheap class based stuff all night (i.e.: how rich you supposedly have to be to go to Trinity College- A free university that my friends and I attended), which absolutely wrecked my head. So that’s what my opener referred to.

Watching the video…

Bad

Man this gig went even worse than I remembered. This was my worst set by far, and is incredible painful to watch.

I had very closed body language at the very start (e.g.: 2 hands on the mic), and you can actually hear how the crowd open up once my body language broadened. Later I started stepping left to right and pacing backward and forward really annoyingly the whole way through this set. If I can control this more (and hopefully I’ve already toned it down somewhat), then it should make the deliberate mime stuff and silly gestures more parsimonious and thus more effective.

This might sound like a small detail, but I shouldn’t have worn my jacket. First off, it’s hot as hell in a comedy club and it made me physically uncomfortable. Secondly bright clothes make you more visible in dim lighting, and I’m already half invisible wearing dark jeans. Thirdly I already have glasses and a beard – both of which obscure my facial expressions, obscuring my body language even a little bit worsens the effect.

I spoke way way too quickly throughout, and didn’t give anywhere near enough explanation of the blasphemy material- which in any case has too long a delay between intro and payoff (without even the tension of audience expectation to sustain it). Even worse I made almost no use of prosody. In other words, no variation of how emphatic I was being, or what emotional tone was weighing individual phrases or words. I think this may be the magic sauce that folks like Patten Oswald or Stewart Lee or even Billy Connelly have, the ability to deeply infuse a word or phrase with an emotion, almost irrespective of the actual content of the sentence. To quote wikitruth – “English is an intonation language. This means that the pitch of the voice is used syntactically, for example, to convey surprise and irony, or to change a statement into a question”. I think I can do this well, but I certainly didn’t do it in this gig.

You can hear me get nervous at the lack of response to the whole blasphemy routine… I’m mumbling and repeating words (for example I say ‘lusty head and arse’, rather than ‘willing head and arse’. Which is irritatingly repetitive, since ‘lusty mouth’ is used already). I completely lost the audience for this whole bit, and didn’t really get them back until right at the end (‘lobster faced knife wielding…’).

I looked at my feet way too much. I think I’ll start watching these videos once with the sound off to notice this stuff better.

Good

I slowed down somewhat in the ‘moving house’ bit – and did the mimed pregnancy gesture (the part where I say ‘didn’t have that hideous extension’), better than in later gigs. It’s a small thing, but the line ‘I’m going to physically vomit’, works much better than ‘…be physically ill’, which I think I’ve been saying recently. I’ve a notion this whole bit could work much much better with improved imagery and practise.

I’d learned my material well, and didn’t forget anything. Despite being nervous I didn’t space out, and got most of the descriptions I’d planned spot on.

The shorter intro (than later gigs) made the transition out of a silly accent a great comic effect rather than a stumbling block.

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