Sam Freeman

Theatre | Comedy | Marketing

Tag: Binty

50 Gigs In

It’s 10 past midnight and I can’t sleep. This I suspect may be for one of two reasons. The first is that I woke up at midday today and as a consequence my body thinks that it’s 9pm, the second is that it is from the adrenaline of doing my fifty third (I think) gig. Continue reading

Gig #19 – The Holly Bush, Dudley

I’ve not blogged for a couple of gigs and had no real intention of doing many more, however, after talking to a few comics at gigs who seem to read the shit I write on here I thought I’d continue. In a weird way I am taking pride from writing this pretentious drivel and knowing that in the north west (and Iran where I have a fan…) comedians brains are gradually turning to crappy slush. I’ve also become aware that I’ve been become a bit complacent and less nervous at gigs and not really analysing my performance, instead using that horror of a sentence, “it was the audience”. For reference it’s very rarely an audience comes to have a bad time, I’d suggest if they don’t enjoy it then it’s probably the bloke stood at the front under a spotlight with a microphone who is to blame.

Anyway, rant over…

So this was somewhat of an impromptu gig, Binty facebooked me at 11am asking me if I fancied going to Birmingham and, as I had the afternoon of work, I decided it would be a good idea. I have an upcoming gig in Liverpool I’m feeling a bit nervous about and I thought the practice would do me no harm at all. So the four of us travelled down (Binty Blair, Rob Thomas and James Oakley (AKA JoOakley)) to Dudley to perform at the legendary Holly Bush gig. I say legendary, I’d never heard of it, but then again I’d never heard of Louis CK (is that his name?) until another comedian mentioned him to me before christmas forcing me to proclaim that I was a big fan of his work despite the fact I’d never fuckin’ heard of him. Anyway… We had a nice drive down, I’ve noticed that the smaller the car travelling in then better the journey, there’s something about a group of tall lads in a small car that seems to spark good conversation. Anyway, we got there, James didn’t have a piss in the car, we bought battered chips (because sometimes frying isn’t quite enough) and went into The Holly Bush pub.

The Holly Bush is a shabbily endearing venue and I have to say, probably a venue I wish I lived near – it’s tiny, serves good, cheap beer, has a really comedy savvie crowd and has a real sense of warmth and community, yes, they heckle, but it feels comfortable and without malice (which you occasionally get).

And how did the gig go?

Well not great to be honest. I felt quite nervous before going on, I could tell because when I’m nervous my leg shakes and I become quite obsessive, checking my watch is set to stopwatch functionality (then failing to press go), reading the notes on the back of my hand (which I didn’t use) and checking my phone was on silent (always best to check 5 to 6 times to be on the safe side).

I don’t think I had a clear enough idea of which parts of my set I was going to do. I knew I wanted to do my ending (or get out of jail card) but wasn’t sure whether to go for the clapping section which I’ve not practiced for a while. I’ve found that compering and doing tough gigs (Bramhall) means that bits of my material feel a bit excessively used outside of the structure of my set. And I need to make a decision early on about what sections I am to do and how they all fit together. I also messed up by failing to pause, when I’m nervous I talk incessantly and I failed to get laughs. I think people enjoyed the set (they said so at the bar and when they came up to me) but as the wise Rob Thomas said, if you don’t pause you don’t let them laugh.

A bad gig for me (and particularly galling when the other 3 in the car share absolutely smash it (did well) but a good wake up call about the limitations of my ability. I wasn’t the worst act on that evening but was a long way from being in the top 50% which is not good.

So, lessons to learn:
– More pauses
– Recognise the punchlines
– Don’t half heartedly do a piece of material
– Make sure you know what bits you’re going to do.

My full set at the moment is 20-25 mins (i’ve recorded it at 35 though in my room). and consists of (PL in brackets):

  • Preston (Incest & Paedophilia)
  • Thanks for not clapping (Clapping at the end rather than front loaded)
  • Average applause (Sex Scale, Clapping Scale)
  • Clapping (part 1)
    1) Enthusiastic (Hitler, Stalin, Tom Selleck)
    2) Cynical (Impress me fucker)
    3) Angry (hate children, joy and Happiness)
  • Clapping (part 2)
    1) Liberal
    2) Labour (Clap recession)
    3) Tory (Taking advantage of Liberals
  • Show starting now…
  • Anyone in a perfect relationship? (across the street, twats)
  • Nice relationship (something missing, sex)
  • How was it for you?
    1) Words (it was alright)
    2) Excel, Charts, Graphs
    3) Sex Scale Callback (9)
  • Not a 9 (probably a 3)
    1) Facebook stalking (shagaluf)
    2) Ex’s list
  • Confidence is key
  • Clapping as indicator of confidence
    1) Enthusiastic – dive in (orgy but not knowing what to do – too many holes and no guide)
    2) Cynical (missionary only, occasionally doggy)
    3) Angry Lovers (exacting, precise, S&M)
  • Confident stroll
    1) Stroll one (kicks open the door naked)
    2) “Darling tonight we will make Love)
    3) Stroll two (gently molested)
    4) Brave comedian uses punchline “Gently molested”
  • Education, Jargon
  • Parents (Years of Councelling)
  • School (technical)
    1) Anatomical
    2) Condoms on Cucumbers (full cucumbers not half)
  • Learning from Friends at Uni
  • Joe (Guess who I’ve just eaten out)
    1) Grammatical Error
    2) 3 Part Joke
    3) Starter (fishy)
    4) Main (Bloody)
    5) Pudding (Creamy Moustache)
    6) Going down at it being horrible
  • Confidence takes a while to manifest, so decide to use my skills – don’t have a great body etc…
  • Sex noises (Um, Nu, Ah)
  • Louder and louder sex
  • That was a 10.
  • Not a big laugh to end
    1) Don’t clap
    2) Boo
    3) Fuck Off
    4) Slow Clap
    5) Leave it he’s not worth it.

So, how to cut it down and work out what to use.

That is Sunday’s mission!

Gig #7 – Hot Water Comedy Club

So here I am again, writing up a gig, and my good performance average has gone up from 16% to 28%.  Yes, nearly one third of the time I don’t die onstage in a long and lingering silence.

Gig #7 was at my comedy home (or the place I did my first gig), Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool. Some comedians I’ve spoken to have found it one of the tougher venues, and granted the audiences can be brutal and heavy drinkers at time, but I love the atmosphere that they get and even if the audiences are brutal they still come up to you after the gig, shake your hand and thank you, which you don’t get in many places, including Preston.

I was a little ill coming into the gig, and, 10mins before I was on felt properly faint and sick, not nerves this time, just faint. Anyway, Binty’s crisps (thank you Binty!) and the Mars Bar in my bag and lots of water got me over it and I went onto stage at about 70% my usual energy.

It was the second time out with my new material and it worked similarly to Gig #6, the clapping opening was okay, I perhaps rushed it a little and didn’t spend as much time as I’d have liked dicking around and pretending that they’d ruined it for everyone by forcing me not to start my set.  I had a moment of panic where I fell off the stage and for a split second thought I may land head first in the condiment tray in front of me. Luckily I regained my balance and continued. I was shouting at some members of the audience, accusing them of being rubbish clappers and bad members of society, I was faced with the choice, go san-mic into the audience and make an example of them, or return to the relative safety of the stage. I chose the second option that I regretted – I would have loved to push it further to see what happened. I was also slightly undermined in assigning sexual practice to types of clappers because I’d been watching the show and slap bang in the middle of the section I usually label as “naieve, insecure and nervous lovers” was a woman who claimed to be a dominatrix… I played with that a bit to limited success and reminded myself that I need a bit of flexibility in my ideas and maybe should have moved my groups around the room a bit..

My second section, or ‘The bit about my sexual insecurity bit’ as I have now named it, is showing promise but isn’t quite there, a great comedian suggested it’s missing a step for the confidence section, I do my two sections a little too quickly and more emphasis is needed. I managed to choose members of the audience to play this to which seemed to help, maintaining the connection with the audience is so important to stop them from relaxing and going into automatic/turning off. I also added the idea of an “ex-librarian with benefits”, not sure where that came from but it got a laugh and will be staying.

I also need to pause occasionally for laughs. At the moment I plough through my set at hyperspeed and I like that, but maybe a moment for getting my breath neatly timed after a punchline would be good. I think I rushed because I wanted my set to be 10 mins, I suspect it was closer to 13/14 min, not too bad considering when rehearsing (admittedly to my lampshade in my room) it tends to top out at 24 mins…

The “eating out” section I developed further into gross out territory, initially the 3rd part of the three course meal I’d glossed over, but by really exaggerating it i think it helped build up the foulness of what I was saying – also I really enjoy pointing out the structure of the joke (perhaps a little too much), but I found myself trying to say those bits to the back of the room (where other comedians sit) and the sexual odd bits to the front of the room.

The ending, a development of what I did in gig #6, claiming I’d ruined the gig by failing to have a punchline is my favourite bit. I have to admit I feel like an arrogant prick, standing there, telling them what to do, that clapping isn’t permitted before orchestrating my own exit, but both times it’s worked surprisingly well and puts a different (and hopefully memorable) dynamic onto the end of the performance.

Biggest thrill of the night was a member of the audience coming up at the interval to shake my hand and telling me I was good – that was a great feeling.

I was really happy with this show and can’t wait for my next one – which was due to be Mon at Beat the Frog in Manchester – unfortunately I’d been hit by Louise’s illness in full force and was sent home from work. So on the trail of more gigs now, I need experience, 7 gigs is still a pitiful amount, but I want to be doing 10 – 15 min slots rather than gong shows as my material and stage persona don’t work in those formats.

That’s all for now, other than to say I’ve just built myself a new desk which is motivating me to write this and thank you to all the comedians who were performing on Sunday, genuinely the nicest bunch of people around – supportive, constructive and funny people – can’t wait for my next gig (if you’re reading this and want to offer me one then please do!).

Thanks all!

p.s. as always this blog is for my personal record only, so it may be pretty incomprehensible, but I want to write stuff down to ensure I’m progressing and learning from my vast numbers of mistakes.

My first gig…

So, didn’t tell everyone because I was really nervous about this, however now its been done I can talk freely about it. Tonight I performed my first stand-up gig, doing around 12 minutes (I think, may have been more, possibly less).

It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for years but have always had the fear about. I guess I’ve always had a little fantasy about being a stand-up but never thought it could be possible, I suppose that’s why I started running comedy nights and booking comedians.

I decided to take the plunge because I’m staring at 28 and wondering whether what I’m doing with my life matters enough. You always want to make a difference, effect people, maybe seek a bit of attention, a bit of ego-stroking – so this was a chance to give it a go, in a safe environment.  I took a course with Hot Water Comedy Course which gave me exactly what I needed, a kick up the arse, opportunity to stand on-stage and try to be funny. Paul Smith gets a special mention as the most supportive man ever, and Binty for his boundless enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s the support of people you don’t know that pushes you through this barrier.

So how did it go? It’s difficult to know, as a playwright I know that it’s difficult to take people’s opinions at face value, they always mean well  but people invariably sugar coat to help and protect you (and I’d do the same for a friend).  However I think it was okay, I’m not sure I was any worse than any of the other acts (apart from Paul Smith and Adam Rowe, who were ace as always), the first 10 was good, I maybe became overly conscious of time so pushed through the second half. Maybe the set needs a few more second half jokes rather than aiming for poignancy. I was also thrown a little by the diversity of the audience, last week when I watching it was 80% students, tonight there was 1 in!

Will I do it again? Maybe, I’d like to, i’m not really sure where, or how, or if I should, or if I should work up an incest joke to make the ending more hilarious. So yeah, if you’ve ever thought of doing stand-up and haven’t then give it a go, it makes a change to your personality, I feel more confident, happy and excited there might be more to the world than marketing… Well, maybe…

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