The first half of January has been busy, at least by my standards. To kick the year off I went to watch a Max Turner Prize heat as a bringer for Nicholas Everritt. I’d never met him before, but remember seeing him at one of the first ever open mics I went to watch when I got started, and really liking his act – a kind of left-field, robotic deconstruction of stand-up conventions – so I was glad to finally have a chat with him.
I’ve seen his routine a few times since that first gig, and it often seems to split the room, some people just don’t get it, but it was good to see that the crowd loved him at the Max Turner heat, and he got through to the next round.
My first gig of the year was at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion in Shoreditch. As well as being rusty after taking Christmas off from gigging, it was also my first ever 10 minute spot, so I went into it feeling a little edgy. I shouldn’t have worried – it went well for a first effort at a 10 spot.
I ran through my usual five minute set, but did all the longer versions of the bits with extra tags, and I did both of my bigger closing bits (I usually just choose one depending on the feel of the room). That took me to about seven or eight minutes, and then I filled the remaining time with new stuff that fits thematically with the rest of the material – most of that seemed to work well enough for a first airing, although it needs tightening up. I’m feeling confident I can pull together a solid 10 minutes over the coming months, which was one of my goals for this year.
Later that week I did five minutes at Happy Laughcraft (at the South Kensington Comedy Club). I’d never been to that night before, but lots of people I know seem to rate it as a good gig so I was keen to check it out. It’s a bringer (Nicholas got me back) but it was still pretty quiet – understandable so soon after Christmas, it was only the first week back to work for most people, so I can’t imagine many people were up for comedy. A couple of girls wandered in from the bar, but left almost as soon as Ralph Arscott tried some crowdwork with them. I didn’t know Ralph before, but yakked with him in the breaks, and he stood out as one of the stronger acts of the night.
I bumped into Phil Green in the bar and had a chat with him – I’ve always liked his brand of thoughtful surrealism, but didn’t really know anybody else at the gig. Luke Poulton was on, and I’ve seen him around a lot but never really had a chance to say hello. Other than that, it was all new faces for me.
I was on second to last of the night, and even though the room was clearly drained, I was feeling positive after my strong start to the year. One of the other acts, an older guy in his sixties, had brought along a bunch of his friends who were treating the night as an opportunity for a good old chat. So before the MC called me up he tried to address it nicely and persuade them to pipe down, but the interaction went on a bit too long and created an awkward energy in the room. And then it was my turn to go up…
I tried to kick off with a joke about the MC making it weird just before I went up, but that fell flat and the MC responded by apologising, which made it more weird, so I started on completely the wrong foot. It wasn’t a complete disaster, I slogged through my material, with a couple of the new bits, and got a few laughs, but it was an uphill battle for very little reward. Still, all stage time is good stage time and it was nice to check the gig out.
The night after that gig I swung over to Comedy Moochabout in Vauxhall, purely to take a few photos of the acts for Mouch to put up on the Facebook page. I’ve finally figured out how to take half decent photos in the adverse lighting conditions of comedy clubs so I’m always up for taking a few shots if anybody wants pics of themselves on stage. It was a fun night with some great acts like Hubert Mayr, Ken Grinell, and the headliner, Simon Caine.
Finally, this Monday I did a spot at We Are Funny Project. I was expecting a fairly quiet night and planned to try out a lot of new material, but as it happened a birthday party showed up and there was a lively audience in the room, and Alfie offered to film my set, so I decided to use some of my strongest stuff, with a couple of new bits, to get a video of me FUCKING DESTROYING. I was feeling in the zone and it went really well – I tried to be more energetic on stage, leaned into the audience more, and just work a bit harder than I usually would.
It paid off, the audience liked what I did and there were plenty of laughs all the way through. The only problem was that with the new bits thrown into the mix I hadn’t really timed the set properly, and by the time I got the 30 second light I wasn’t in an ideal place to finish strongly. I was halfway through a new bit which worked well once before, but I kind of fumbled it and finished on a very mediocre laugh. That’s a small gripe though, apart from that the set went well, and one of my new bits in particular just landed perfectly, so that’s already looking like a banker.
It was one of those nice nights where I bumped into quite a few acts I know and had some good chit chat with the people like Luke Chilton, Steph Aritone, Andrew Buchan, and Bijan Barekat – who are all well worth a watch if you get the chance. Elliot Dallas, who I know in passing, was also there and had a spectacular mental breakdown on stage – I remain unclear whether it was an act or a cry for help. We’re all rooting for you Elliot! (Unless you’re found guilty.)
It was the first time I’d seen Alexandria MacLeod and she really impressed, so hopefully we’ll see more of her.
I’m not doing anything else for the rest of the week, but next Monday I’ve got my heat of the Max Turner Prize at the Cavendish Arms (although I’m still trying to pin down a bringer for that), then on Thursday I’ve got a spot at Angel Comedy RAW in Islington, which I’m really looking forward to because that’s a fantastic gig. The following week, I’m at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion on Monday, and then Beat the Blackout at Up The Creek on Thursday, which I’m also very excited about because I’ve never done any kind of gong or blackout show.
Let’s kick 2019’s fucking face in, comrades!