Gig 5 – Comedy Dublin (Belvedere Hotel), 27th September 2009
Extremely anxious, but not quite as bad as before most of the gigs I’ve done. I’d come from a house party the night before with no sleep, more than a little stinky and wearing a (deliberately) hideous borrowed shirt. All in all I looked like Wurzel Gummidge if he’d just been released from a sex offender institution. After 3 weeks of standup and ‘exchange words’ planning, my brain was in a similar state of disarray. I had to stop myself from running my material over and over in my head (as I’m still paranoid about forgetting something, or even blanking altogether).
Another comedian had closed with a Madeline McCann joke so I figured screw it, I’ll open with one. I knew it would disrupt the flow of the first half of the set; but I’m already worried about stagnating and the ‘chilling effect’ of toning myself down when I’m afraid of an audiences reaction to my saltier material. Credit goes to Andrew Booth, who’d told me the ‘spread your thighs’ line earlier in the evening.
There was a heckler in the crowd, with an enormous tattooed friend as backup, so I was prepared to respond to him, but luckily I didn’t have to. I’ve yet to face a real heckler (tempting fate here I know).
Managed to get the mic off the stand quickly- the Comedy Dublin mic stand has a ‘pronged’ base rather than a round one, and is hence irritatingly prone to tangle, potentially ruining the energy and spontaneity of a good opener.
When the audience didn’t respond well to my ‘Are you all having a wonderful time?’ line, I was able to flip it around. As I hadn’t planned for this and was half dead I’m pretty proud of thinking on my feet; but the trade off was that I broke eye contact and wandered about too much while I was riffing.
Watching the Video…
What an introduction, and what a shirt. With that shirt and hair I really do resemble a time travelling soft rock paedophile. So I guess the opening improve was appropriate. My exhaustion really shows. Not a great set. I foreshadowed (and hence broke) the ‘my real voice’ bit by slipping into a Dublin accent too early. Also my ‘Byron’ voice was all over the place. Still I’m glad I tried something new, as it grew into a proper bit for the next show.
Projected what the sex men call ‘a needy frame’, especially at the start, seeking approval from the audience rather than demanding / earning it: e.g.: ‘you can say aww’. Although slowing down, building tension, and providing a good pay off help to combat this. Also fought back with a bit of vocal gymnastics, basically perving up the emotional tone on lines like ‘bigger boys and girls’. If I’d been more on the ball I would have played with the audiences reactions a little more, lingering over parts they enjoyed, reacting to groans etc. I need to to more of this.
I think the heckler actually did squeeze one out right after I switched to my real voice, but I didn’t hear him so I didn’t respond- win win.
The moving house metaphor bit went over well, but not that well: as usual. If I do this bit again, I need to slow it down, invest it with life and make sure the audience is following me.
Always surprised how much of a reaction just saying ‘Fibber McGees’ gets. Obviously this would only work in Dublin, but it’s interesting how well a simple relatable detail like that goes over. I guess part of what people look for in comedy (at least some of the time) are experiences and ideas they’ve had but perhaps never fully articulated. I hate this shit in literature, where it usually seems (to me) false and portentous (sic), but even I enjoy it (and envy the fucker who writes it) in standup.
Really happy with how much I slowed down this time. Best thing about a gig that didn’t go amazingly well.
Lost the audience through the first part of the sexual history bit. Think I just seemed too nervous (mostly because I was moving to much). Overall I was sleep walking through this gig, and it shows. Got them back for the vivid descriptions though- mostly because I kept the pace slow and invested them with a lot of, well… perversity.
I will write ‘a clean set’ soon(ish). Or at least one that doesn’t rely on sexual deviance. Maybe.