Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Gig #16 – Roast Bar, Leeds

My first gig outside the North West tonight at the Roast Bar in Leeds. I have to admit I like to journey to Leeds, it’s quite relaxing travelling through the snow-topped Pennines and finding yourself in a city where the predominant food source appears to be Greggs the baker. Anyway…

This is a new gig and the first night – the bar feels a little remote being away from anything else but we had a good audience of 50 – 60 crammed into the room. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me how important good setup and good room management are to create a good atmosphere for a gig. People rarely want to sit on the table at the front which often means an empty barrier between you and the audience. In narrower rooms this becomes even more important because it means that the distance to the back of the room is increased and you  find it more difficult to communicate with people who are standing or can’t really see.

This aside though I found myself writing down a few set pieces for memory aids on my hand and a lot of time observing the audience. I find that interacting with the audience early on helps them warm to me and create a sense of rapport which makes the delivery of material easier. I picked out a few groups who I’d talk to early on – even just briefly – to try and break down the 4th wall and get that sense of inclusivity – again aiming to not be too aggressive but just passing observations. Some bits work better than others and i need to work on linking these observations in with my material more strongly. Binty added the great suggestion of the creamy moustache into the evening which I’ll use in future.

I used my “everything’s gone wrong ending” which seemed effective – again it could be developed further and relies a bit on audience confusion and picking the audience members who are likely to fufill their roles and not try to be funny.. a lot harder to find than you might have thought… It’s also fun seeing people fighting the urge to clap because they’re not sure if they’re allowed.

I seem to be getting more confident onstage, relaxing to a point where I can talk the audience through what I’m doing and even sitting down at one point – again it disrupts the expectation of the audience and creates a new dynamic to play with.

Overall a fun night – I feel like I’m learning all the time – maybe I need to do some longer sets (20 – 25min) as I’m worried that my improv and compereing skills may be getting better at the cost of using, well, material. I avoided using my 1842 Cotton Strike material tonight, I was feeling daring but not suicidal.

Cheers and goodnight!