Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Three gigs

I’ve not written about stand-up and how my gigging has been going for a while so I thought I’d write some of what I’ve been doing for you my avid readers. I say avid readers in the broadest sense, I have google analytics so know where you live and who you are (apart from the person in Iran and the other in Taiwan…), and know that there are (most probably) 6 avid readers. Still that’s 6 more than a lot of people who have blogs, so I’m content.

I’ve started writing a new set recently which is based on storytelling mixed with audience interaction. Stylistically it shares the DNA of some of Daniel Kitson’s storytelling but also some of the audience interaction elements of The Boy With Tape On His Face. I was really worried about how it would go, firstly because it is very unusual structurally from traditional stand up and secondly because it relies on the audience taking a journey and taking a series of small steps (in terms of participation) leading to a big leap at the end. There are also long parts which aren’t very funny. A mate of mine was asking me about this and saying I should develop them, add more jokes etc… I’m not too sure to be honest, I think that silence and buildup sets a tone much better and feels more authentic and genuine than if I’d stuffed a lot of cock jokes in. That’s not to say it’s cock free, it definitely has an element of cock, but well, it’s not all about that.

I performed it twice this week which seemed to get a really positive response, the second time doing a redraft to include some patented Binty Blair punchlines which predictably got the biggest laughs in the entire set. It has a bit about bearded men talking to me after gigs – and after each time I’ve performed it – more bearded men come up to me, excellent, I am a beard magnet.

I also did my first middle section in Altringham which was terrifying, onstage for 20mins (ish) to a middle-sized crowd in a Conservative Working Men’s Club (is that possible). It started with the compere (who shall not be named) coming up to me to let me know that he’d had a fair amount of MDMA and that his introduction might be briefer than might normally be expected (4 mins). It was really lovely being in the venue and performing without any signs over my head that I’m an open (or amateur) performer. I was interested to see how I managed without expectation managed in the usual sort of way and seemed to get away with it.

I also found out that I hate praise (to be honest I already knew this) – I think because it is very hard to make a judgement as to its sincerity. I’ve worked in theatre and been to enough comedy gigs to know that the likeliness of being told you did well is in many ways directly proportional to the distance between you, the door and the audience member. If you’re blocking the exit it’s remarkable how many people like your material. I appreciate that sounds really stupid and, well, no, it sounds really stupid, but I guess it’s a little bit of paranoia about being shit.

So that’s it in essence. I still enjoy doing stand-up for a hobby and I think it is still definitely in that category for me but I’m starting to wonder whether i could bring together the stand up with playwrighting to create a half play, half standup  thing… Maybe with puppetry… Something that is genuine, warm and has poignancy but people also find funny.

We’ll see. Thanks for reading!



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