Open Mic Gig #10

Last night I did a spot at Rising Stars, at The Old Crown in Holborn, and this was a bit of a milestone for me because it was my 10th open spot. It was a nice little night in a very snug room, with no stage, so small that the acts literally had to climb over each-other’s chairs to get to the mic.

This is a very different vibe to places like The Cavendish, or We Are Funny, which are in reasonably large spaces – regardless of audience numbers, the size of the room really does have an affect on the atmosphere. The MC was Adrian Taus, who I’ve seen at The Cavendish a few times, and a bunch of the other acts were familiar from other nights too. Apart from Adrian I don’t think any of them had seen me before, but it still made the night feel a bit more relaxed and friendly – especially since I had a couple of non-comedy friends in tow too.

In the bar before the show I got speaking to another act called Gaëlle Constant, who I shall henceforth refer to as The World’s Funniest Belgian, because she kindly shared her sandwich with me just as I was about to order some food. She’s also funny, and the only Belgian I’ve ever met.

Overall it was a good night, a couple of acts killed the energy a bit with some new material that wasn’t quite ready, but Adrian did a good job of getting things back on track. My set went down OK, although it didn’t feel as easy as it has on other nights in bigger rooms – I suppose figuring out how to deal with those different atmospheres is all part of the game.

Some bits which usually get a strong laugh didn’t hit the mark, and a few times it took longer than usual for the crowd to get on board with a joke so the laughter came in unpredictably, which messed with my flow. I can’t remember if I missed a bit, but somehow I got to my usual closer with about 30 seconds to spare – I had prepared a few tags to use for this situation, but I’ve never had to use them before so the delivery wasn’t great and my close wasn’t as strong as I’d like.

All the same, it went well enough, got plenty of laughs and some really nice feedback from some of the other acts. The most common comment I get from other acts is that they can’t believe how few gigs I’ve done, so I’m taking that as a positive sign. As far as I can tell, in stand-up you’re not even considered a half-serious beginner until you’ve done at least 100 spots. Hopefully by the time I get to triple figures I’ll be unstoppable.

As well as Gaëlle, some other impressive acts I saw last night include: Kathryn Mather, Cam Davies, Paul Entwistle, Louise Bastock, and Steve Clark (who won the clap-off despite being a musical comedy act).

I had a good chat with some of the other acts in the bar, more so than at any previous gig – it’s nice to start seeing familiar faces and getting to know everybody a bit.

I haven’t got any gigs booked at the moment, and next week I’ve got Real Life stuff to deal with so I probably won’t try for any walk-ins. I’m planning to shelve my current material now that it’s reasonably polished and try out a completely different five minutes, so I’ll get back onto it in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to trying out new stuff, but not looking forward to using notes on stage again while I memorise the new stuff.

 

Suiting up for Comedy Virgins

I got down to the final two in the clap-off at the end of the night, but was beaten by a better woman.

This was my third time performing at Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell, and it was a great night. I think a few of the acts had brought largish groups of friends, and I had a few with me too, so the room was absolutely packed and the energy was great.

There were 21 acts in total, a few first timers and a few guys I’ve seen before – everybody was good, even the people doing their first ever spots got good laughs. I have been thinking about trying out a completely new set, but since I had a few friends in tow I didn’t want to subject them to untested material and so I stuck with my familiar stuff which is really feeling polished now.

Being able to deliver it all fairly smoothly from memory means I’m feeling a lot more relaxed and I think that’s helping with my stage presence. I really felt like I was in control of the room and able to think about what I was doing, rather than just focusing on remembering my next joke.

I still think I could polish this set even more, but it worked brilliantly last night – the room was in pieces –  and I’m feeling really good about how I’ve progressed. The only thing I really did differently this time, apart from just being a bit more polished overall, was that I dressed up in a suit and tie, and that seemed to help.

I usually go to gigs in whatever I’ve been wearing at work that day, jeans and t-shirt mostly, but I thought it might work better if I go on stage looking smart and professional, because that would contrast nicely with my disgusting material. I think it worked, so I’ll probably use the suit more in future. There’s probably the subconscious effect of the suit making me feel more confident too.

Lots of great acts at the gig – I should really start noting down names so I can mention them here. My comedy-chum, Pauline Stobbs, got a walk-in spot and did a completely new five minutes, which went down well. If anything I think it’s better than her first set. I’m impressed, because almost anybody could put together five minutes of material, but to keep producing new stuff that works obviously requires talent.

On that note, I really need to try out some new material. I’m at Rising Stars in Holborn on Tuesday next week – but I’m not sure I want to risk new material at a night I’ve never been to before, especially since I’m bringing some colleagues along for the first time. After that I might go back to some of the smaller non-bringer nights and try out some different stuff.