Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Gigs #20 & #21 – A tale of two gigs

I’ve decided to roll gigs #20 & #21 together as they are good examples of how life doesn’t always work in your favour and sometimes you have to search for positives.

Gig #20 was  a competition, my first, for Bottletop Comedian Of The Year, Heat One. The gig went really well, I had chance to play with the audience, felt really comfortable and got into a good place. I still have a habit of going too much off piste at times and losing people but I controlled the room pretty well I think and nailed the ending. The “eating out” section hit well and got the right reaction which allowed me to use my favourite ending – “failure”. However I didn’t make it to the final, I suspect because the ending doesn’t necessarily look like written material but also because I wasn’t consistent enough, I needed more big laughs at the start and still need to look at my timing. However, I felt I paused momentarily longer than at the Hollybush gig which is a major positive and helped me get a few more laughs, although, as Mr Oakley pointed out, not as many as I could have. So did really well but not quite tight enough.

Gig #21 was a return to my semi-regular compereing gig. This was my toughest gig for a long time and a gig filled with compereing lesson which I will now list below rather than go in detail.

  • At the start of the gig don’t allow the band onstage until you’re ready – it pulls the attention away and also allows them to “join in” which breaks the role of compere.
  • Audience interaction is great, but picking subjects well is essential – if they don’t want to talk or want to be funnier than everyone else then it undermines what you’re going to do (I was really thrown by a big bloke at the front claiming to be a Secret Agent called Betty – argh… hard work.)
  • Plan a range of material, and for mixed bill gigs crude stuff isn’t always going to work.
  • Everytime you come back onstage you have to earn the audience’s trust.
  • Let everyone know their running time.
  • Get the running order printed out A3 and somewhere clearly visible.
  • Keep the sections to 30 mins with a 10 min interval between, this avoids the distractions of drinks orders etc…
  • A sign on the door when the performance has started can solve people randomly walking in.
  • Check sound levels early – someone should be near the desk!
  • Have more confidence at the end of the gig.
  • Persistence is key to finding the right audience members to talk to, and have a range of questions ready (i was thrown by the first two people I spoke to who gave crappy answers – secret agent – so chickened out and delivered material out of context that didn’t work.)
  • Make sure the room is setup best for the compere, I have to be the most comfortable in there!

So a learning exercise for both these gigs – I feel i’m getting better though, I had one section in gig #21 where I got my timings down better and milked more laughs where I’d have previously steamrollered them.

I guess the target is to be “good” by gig #50, that’s where lots of people I know are at who I rate so if I can raise my game in the next 29 gigs I’ll be happy. Baby steps lead to giant leaps.