The same, of course applies to gigs, although, it has to be said usually the three instances are more spread out rather than occurring over a four day period.
The 4 days opened with Bottletop Comedy where I had my best ever gig, closed with Southport Comedian Of The Year where I fell to the worst death imaginable and sandwiched between was the semi-farcical yet still strangely fun at points charity night for Alder Hay Hospital.
The charity gig I was compereing and was an evening with everything in it – rubbish PA, noise from everywhere, aggressive hecklers, performers going on sans-microphone, the organiser hilariously telling the audience to behave, local lad smashing his first gig, headliner destroying hecklers, a borrowed guitar amp & mic to make it work and £1,200 raised for a good cause. To be honest I felt terrible after the gig – I’d not got chance to do some good compereing etc… However it was always going to be an against-the-odds gig so with that in mind retrospectively think I may have helped rather than hindered the evening.
Tonight’s gig however was a different story. I had five minutes, did about 4, and died hideously throughout. It was a quiet audience but that’s not really an excuse, my attitude going on was all wrong and my head wasn’t really in the right place. I went on very aggressive and arrogant rather than my usual bouncy overly friendly style. I’ve noticed I have a habit of doing this when I’m tired or just not in the mood, but this felt a bit different. I guess I was feeling a little shit from the night before but mostly it was that I wanted to do different material.
I was talking to a friend about another mutual friend the other day (both comedians). The friend we were talking about has had a few tough gigs recently and we were saying that it felt like he’d fallen out of love with his material – the energy and excitement of performing it had maybe turned to routine. I felt the same a little, the material I used has been superseded by stuff I enjoy doing more, material that is more fulfilling that I actually feel has a point.
I’m increasingly starting to think that there must be a third way. I’m not a natural comedian, i don’t write great one-liners or have that at ease presence to be able to ad-lib and take an audience away, but equally I’m no actor and cannot play outside myself. However the points I feel best are when I am telling a story, a genuine story, that has a point or a message.
That’s why I’ve fallen out with my older material – it’s not terrible but it’s purpose is superfluous, the only aim is the laugh through the now slightly contrived ending and that feels like a cop out. It doesn’t feel honest or genuine or heartfelt, that’s the problem – my material talks about my insecurities in a relationship – problem is for the material is that it’s becoming gradually less true – the insecuries are fading and with them the ability to deliver the material.
It could, of course, just be a bad gig, a reaction to a failure onstage, but maybe not, maybe I should follow this a bit, find the storytelling and the stories I want to tell, and hope they’re funny.
In the meantime, lessons to learn:
- Not every gig will be good.
- Approach each gig with the view to make friends with the audience not confront them.
- Avoid arrogance – it makes me into a tit.
- Smile more onstage.
- Slow down a bit onstage and compliment audiences.
- Follow stories through – this is from compering – the moment I felt most connected was when I let an interaction with an audience member run riot in my head and mix together with other ideas – it felt like a moment where ad-libbed material really worked and connected – just need to be a bit braver and do it.
- Never go to Southport again. (unlikely to happen, pretty sure they hate me.)
- Add ‘competitions’ to the list of things to avoid (alongside ‘gongs’) – they’re not fun, they feel pressurised regardless of how the night is set up and will rarely leave you with a warm glow*.
Tis all for now.
P.S. – In other news I’ve still not got GTAV or Fifa14. It’s killing me, no lie, absolute agony. Nor has my playwriting progressed at all. Stuck at 473 words.
*unless you’re James Oakley.