Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Gig #12 – Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool

I was thrilled (if very surprised) to be asked by Binty to perform at Hot Water’s 6 of the best competition night – I’d only just done 10 gigs so felt like a bit of an imposter next to guys and gals who’ve done many more. The section is 8 mins long but penalised if you go over that time. I was less nervous during the day of the gig than I had been previously – usually I spend the entire day wanting to throw up brutally everywhere, refusing to eat and stressing some more. But unlike previous gigs I found this easier, not really feeling nerves until around 5pm. I decided to cut my set down by pushing through the material faster and avoiding as much audience interaction as previously.

I was on first which I wanted (not least to get it out of the way) – there is something horrible about being on later – like a convict watching all the other prisoners be executed before going on – or even occasionally have a great time. The audience were a little quiet, there were pockets who were pretty great but I struggled with a few groups who I couldn’t get a smile out of at all. The opening was solid, the Preston joke seems to be working well as an early laugh before getting intellectual, then I followed with stuff on perfect relationships, the sex scale and finally (panicking that I needed to get finished) i ended on sex noises and then the failed ending.

So, problems:

  • Failed ending is a double edge sword, some people get it others get genuinely confused which doesn’t help people..
  • The set lacked balance – it felt like an excerpt rather than a structured well honed set.
  • My mouth was really dry for the whole set, it felt like my head and mouth weren’t connecting right for fluency.
  • TIMING. (ah for fucks sake, again)

I came off stage thinking I’d done around 8 mins, to be honest I suspected I’d been slightly under the time available, but sans la-watch thought I’d been okay. As it turns out that was really not the case, I was nearly 5 mins over (so I got heavily penalised). I think my timings are massively off from where I think they are.

In essence to break it down:

  • Opening + Preston = 1min 15sec
  • Clapping = 4min
  • Relationship questions = 2min
  • Sex questions = 3min
  • Sex noises ending on perfect 10 = 2min
  • Exit to silence =2min

Before arriving at the gig I was excited to even be there but felt the audience response had been good enough to get placed top 3. But timings killed me completely (and the ending if I’m honest – Although the top 3 acts were all terrific tonight!). I was pretty pissed off with myself on the bus home, well, very pissed off with myself if i’m honest – I was properly “I’m shit” all the way back.

But then I got thinking (once I’d had some horlicks) – that was gig #12 – the lineup was of stronger much more experienced acts than me – the opportunity it gives me is worth it, firstly to have a gig (of which I don’t get many) but also to get that brutal assessment of what needed developing.

I keep coming back to Lee Mack and Michael McIntyre – both did well over 70 gigs until they felt confident and like they were making some progress – indeed Lee Mack did a competition and was beaten by Daniel Kitson (no pressure George, Cheish and James but one of you needs to become the best comedian in the world)… I need to sharpen and tone what I have instead of starting with a 30min set that I begrudgingly cut to size.

To be honest I find myself eternally grateful to Binty and Paul who keep telling me about my timings (and they’re spot on). It’s unprofessional (not that I’m sure I want to be pro) but also spoils the rhythm of the evening. If one part of the show overruns and leaves the audience needing a piss or having to leave early then I’ve let the side down.

So I’m thinking of working up a few sets for different purposes (which I should have done ages ago).

5 – 8 min set (competition)

  • Opening + Preston = 1min 15sec
  • Relationship questions = 2min
  • Sex questions = 3min
  • Sex noises ending on perfect 10 = 2min

10 – 12 min set (spots)

  • Opening + Preston = 1min 15sec
  • Clapping = 4min
  • Sex questions = 3min
  • Sex noises ending on perfect 10 = 2min

20 min set (spots)

  • Opening + Preston = 1min 15sec
    Incest & Paedophilia
  • Clapping = 4min
    Liberal, Labour, Tory
  • Relationship questions = 2min
    Relationship? Perfect Relationship? Facebook wank, Milk, Holding hands in the street
  • Sex questions = 3min
    How was that?
    How was that out of 10
  • Confidence = 3min
    Entering the room
  • Sex Jargon – learning about sex = 2min
    Parents, School, Friends
  • Friend Joe = 4min
    Starter, Main, Dessert
  • Sex noises ending on perfect 10 = 2min
    Build up more – audience participation??
  • (optional) Leave the stage all gone wrong = 2min

That’s all for this evening – this blog is really useful for any comedians reading (and please comment if you do read and say hello) to help me find perspective on what I’m doing – I was furious with myself on the bus home but I found that writing this for the past 30 min has been good to a) chill me the fuck out and b) hopefully move forward.

Next gig is Thursday, update post-gig!

Night all!