Sometimes the good nights take you by surprise

I had a great night at Battersea Power Comedy last week, against all the odds. It was the hottest day of the year so far, so I was expecting the mood and the turnout to be low, but as it happened there were no dropouts so we had a room full of acts and bringers, and plenty of energy.

I was glad to see a couple of my favourite acts in the bar beforehand – Thea Downey and Hubert Mayr – and a few other faces I recognise showed up too, Sam Dutton, Micah Hall and Ginnia Cheng. I enjoy doing this stuff all the same, but it’s more fun when you start getting to know the other acts and regularly bump into people you like, it really builds a sense of camaraderie.

I went up fourth – I chose a spot close to the beginning because it gave me just enough time to ease into the night, but not so long that I got distracted by the other acts and forgot my material. Another problem I have with going on later in the show is that it gives me too much time to start second guessing myself and mentally reworking my routine, instead of sticking to the plan I prepared and practiced. I like to get it out of the way early on and then enjoy the other acts.

I tried out a mix of old stuff, new versions of old stuff, and completely new stuff, and it all worked pretty well – even with an audience member dropping and breaking a glass halfway through my set I still managed to keep the room on side. I felt pretty good about it all after I got off stage. Most of the other acts did really well too, and hanging out in the bar afterwards there was a really good atmosphere. One of those good nights that took everybody by surprise.

Listening back to the recording I really notice how much I waffle in some of my bits when I could get to the punchline a lot quicker. That said, I’ve tried doing this before and sometimes the bit just doesn’t seem to work as well, even though all of the key elements are still there. Maybe the waffle is all part of the style and storytelling? All the same, I still think I need to find a way of being more economical with words without breaking the material.

There’s not much happening this month because I’m away quite a bit in August. The next gig I’ve got is back at Battersea Power on the 16th, followed by the Cavendish on the 22nd.

Gig Count: 48

I’m not racist but my baby is…

I’ve done a few spots so far this month, a couple at We Are Funny and last night I was at Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms, trying out some new stuff that feels a bit hit and miss.

Most of the material I’ve been using for the past year is based on the theme of parenting . It works well most of the time, but it’s not really what I wanted to do and it’s kind of limited because if I get a younger audience they’re less likely to go along with it.

So I’ve been trying out some different stuff, talking about bigger issues, with mixed success. One of the topics I’ve tried to write about is race; I don’t know why, other than I live in a multi-cultural city and it seems like a good subject to mine for comedy.

For example; when one of my kids was very little we noticed he’d cry whenever a black person picked him up at a social gathering. That, to me, was funny – the idea that an innocent baby could be racist and the social awkwardness of that situation, so I’m trying to work that up into a bit. That’s the kind of angle I’m trying when I do material about race.

The problem is that it’s risky. The audience often gets nervous when it’s a white guy talking about this stuff, even though (I hope) I’m not punching down.

After I did some of this stuff last night (without much success, to a largely white room) the MC, Twix, hit the nail right on the head when she said to the audience “I feel like you were all looking at me while he was saying that stuff, to check whether it was OK.”

This is what I’ve come to realise about this topic. Whenever I’ve done material about race and it’s gone well, it’s always in front of a mixed audience. When it’s gone badly (and it has gone so badly on some nights) it’s been in front of a mostly white audience. It’s as if white audiences feel like they need permission from people of colour to laugh at this stuff – when the room is more balance, it somehow feels OK for them.

I already know where this is leading to – it’s just one of those skills I need to learn, read the room, understand the audience, adjust the material.

It feels fucking awful when this stuff goes badly. Bombing is one thing, but bombing because the audience thinks you’re a racist hack takes you to new depths of self-loathing.

But it’s worth it. When it’s gone well, it feels amazing – you’ve tackled a sensitive topic that a lot of other acts are scared to touch, and won over the entire room. The few nights when I’ve managed to do that gave me a tiny glimpse of greatness – and I want more of that, no matter how many times I have to bomb to get there.

Gig Count: 47

Flinging Shit at the Wall at We Are Funny Project

I was supposed to be doing a spot at Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms last night, but my bringer dropped out at the last minute and I couldn’t rustle up a replacement, so I had to cancel. I managed to get a walk-in spot at We Are Funny Project instead, but it did get me thinking about how tough the London open mic circuit is.

If you talk to acts from other cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Melbourne, they’re amazed at how the London scene works. In those places you rarely have to book a spot at an open mic night or bring an audience member, you just turn up on the night put your name down and take your chances. And the hard workers can do two or three spots a night by jumping to different gigs, because it’s no big deal if you leave a gig before the end.

London works differently and, to be fair, nights like Comedy Virgins, Battersea Power Comedy, and Funny Feckers are brilliant – but I wish there were a few more nights that didn’t require bringers and booking in advance. Having to plan spots a month or so ahead, and then leave yourself at the mercy of your bringers makes the whole thing a precarious balancing act. And if, like me, you’re limited in the number of nights you can do gigs (because of kids, day-jobs or whatever else) it just makes it even more tricky to get as much stage time as you’d like.

But enough whinging. I always enjoy doing the Cavendish, but WAFP is a good night too and I was lucky to get a walk-in spot so I’m not complaining.

I’d been looking forward to trying new material now that the competitions are all done with, but I’d forgotten how traumatic the process is for your ego. When you’ve been focusing on polishing your tried and tested material, you get used to going on stage with the confidence of knowing that it mostly works and you’re going to get laughs all the way through. But with new material you fumble your way through unfinished jokes, not knowing if any of it is really funny at all, and fairly certain you’re going to spend most of the five minutes looking like a twat while the audience stares blankly at you. The only way to survive is to embrace failure and accept that it’s going to be a car crash.

I’d got five minutes of new stuff split into two sections covering racism and porn respectively, and I was gunning for it all to be a bit contentious.

Some of the racism stuff worked OK and the whole audience bought into bits of it, but for most of my set I was only getting solid laughs from a clique of three or four blokes in the middle row. I know I need to try it out in a few different rooms before I burn any of the bits, but my gut feeling is that I can probably keep about a minute of the racism stuff and maybe a couple of one liners from the porn material at best.

I had a chat with the MC, Alfie (who also runs the night), afterwards and he gave me some constructive feedback – a couple of the bits were funny, a lot of it obviously didn’t work, and the stuff that did work needed a bit of editing down, which is all fair comment.

He advised me to soften the audience up a bit before dropping in some of my harsher material, which makes sense, and also pointed out that most of the time women won’t laugh at porn jokes (at least not from a male comic) and that means their boyfriends won’t laugh at them either. I think he’s right, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow because porn’s an easy topic to mine for jokes – although that’s a good reason not to go there too, it’s a bit too obvious, so I think I’ll probably stay away from the subject unless I can think of a better way to do it.

I’m back at WAFP with a booked spot on Monday, and I’m planning to do a tightened up version of the racism material, and whatever other new stuff I can think of between now and then.

Myself aside, there were a bunch of great acts on – although the only two names that stuck in my mind were Adam Flood and Jerry Bakewell (Britain’s least successful wrestler).

Gigs: 44

So You Think You’re Funny?

This week I finally got to enter my heat of the So You Think You’re Funny competition,  upstairs at the Signal Pub in Forest Hill. It’s a nice venue with a room that lends itself reasonably well to standup; they run regular pro nights there but I’m not sure if they also do an open mic.

Considering it was a hot summer Monday evening, they were charging £6 for tickets, and it was England’s first World Cup match, the room was surprisingly full. I had a couple of friends with me, but one of the acts (the lovely Indi Madray) brought a small army along for moral support. So against the odds there was a decent energy in the room.

The line-up was fairly mixed in terms of experience, mostly younger acts in their early twenties, and chatting to them in the bar I learned that a lot of them were very new, with fewer than 10 gigs under their belts. I recognised one of the more experienced acts, Bijan Barekat, from a few nights at We Are Funny, and Sam Eley had been on at Battersea Power Comedy the same night as me earlier in the week, and you could really spot the difference in class.

Acts I’d never seen before, but really liked, included Cydney Wood, and Jessie Nixon.

I was feeling comfortable about doing my set, having had the opportunity to practice the full seven minutes earlier in the week. I ended up scribbling just a few words on the back of my hand to remember the middle part of my set list, but I think my delivery was reasonably smooth.

At one point it felt like I was too far into my set for the time I’d spent on stage, and I realised that I’d skipped over chunky part of bit because I’d added some topical material to it at the last minute (wasn’t worth it, only about a quarter of the room laughed). But because the whole of my set is loosely based on the same theme it was easy to just drop in the joke later on in the set.

The audience seemed to buy into most of what I was doing. It felt like I was getting laughs all the way through, whereas some of the really new acts were telling rambling stories to silence. My closer didn’t exactly kill the room but it got a strong enough reaction, and I think I hit seven minutes almost exactly when I left the stage. I got some good feedback from audience members and a couple of other acts in the bar afterwards, so I’ll take it as a win.

I’ll find out if I’ve made it through to the next round in July, but I’m not pinning any hopes on it. I know there have been a lot of strong acts in the other heats, and I’m fairly certain that I’m not really what the competition organisers are looking for (i.e. another middle aged, white, hetero, man). But that’s all cool – I entered for the experience and I enjoyed it.

More than anything I’m glad to have finished with competitions for the time being. I’m bored of doing this material, but I’ve had to spend every gig working on it for the competitions, and now that’s over I can just move on and try other stuff.

Next week I’m at the Cavendish on Tuesday, and then We Are Funny Project the week after.

Gigs: 43

Seven Minutes

I did a spot at Battersea Power Comedy on Thursday, which I think was the third or fourth time I’ve been there. I really like the night because it’s a nice venue, the guys who run it are cool, and it’s easy for me to get home from, which is always a winner.

I was chatting with the MC in the bar ahead of the gig and mentioned I’ve got a competition coming up next week, so he kindly agreed to let me do seven minutes, which is the first time I’ve done more than five. I think I have seven minutes worth of material that all hangs together around a common theme, but I’d never tried it out all in one go before.

The whole set ran to pretty much seven minutes on the nose, and the audience laughed in all the right parts, including a brand new bit that worked better than expected.  I needed to rely on a set list on the back of my hand – just a few single words to remind me of the running order of my bits, but I’ll be happier when I can do without it entirely. I can remember my opener and closer, but the middle section of the set is still a jumble.

I was the penultimate spot of the night, followed by professional act, Caroline Mabey, trying out some new stuff – I had a bunch of friends with me at the gig and they all thought she was fantastic. The quality from the other open mic acts was also high, but I didn’t manage to remember any of their names (apart from Amy Xander, who was great as ever).

I’m feeling in pretty good shape for the competition heat tomorrow – I’ll practice my set a few times during the day to see if I can get the whole seven minutes committed to memory, but I’m not too worried if I need a couple of words scribbled in my hand.  Looking forward to getting it over with so I can shelve this material for a while and try out some other stuff.

Gigs: 42

Rising Star and We Are Funny Project

I’ve not done any gigs for a couple of weeks as Real Life stuff has got in the way, but before I slacked off I did a spot at Rising Star which ended up being a chaotic night that kind of went off the rails. I think it was the MC’s first time. If you really want to understand just how much of an art MCing is, you should watch somebody get it wrong.

It was a very mixed night and I went up after a couple of weak acts – which I think is a double edged sword because nobody wants to follow a strong act, but at the same time it can be hard if the previous acts have sucked all the life out of the room.

My set went well, but I got thrown off my rhythm when the audience gave me a big laugh at a completely unexpected point during a setup. I was confused at why they were laughing so much at a completely unfunny line, and it derailed the whole bit. I’ve got to get better at gracefully dealing with unexpected laughs.

After that gig I didn’t do anything for a couple of weeks, but I’ve got the So You Think You’re Funny competition heat coming up next Monday, so this week I needed to get some stage-time. Tomorrow I’ve got a spot at Battersea Power Comedy, and last night I got a walk-in at We Are Funny Project.

Even though it was a quiet night because of the warm weather, it was a nice gig with a couple of novice MCs (one in each half) trying out for the first time and both doing a decent job of it. Because I was feeling rust I had to rely on hand-notes again, after weening myself off them not so long ago, but I didn’t have to use them too much. I think I’ll be OK to ditch them for the competition next week.

I was happy with my set – delivered everything how I wanted to  and didn’t forget any bits. Even though the audience was small, I still got laughs in the right places, and nothing bombed badly enough for me to worry about, so I’m feeling  confident that after tomorrow’s gig I’ll be in good shape for the competition heat.

There were a few acts who caught my attention; Mary Taylor (who I had a good natter with in the bar), Michael Akadiri (the best amateur act of the night, I reckon), and Babetta Mann and Andrew Buchan were also strong. The professional headliner was Sunil Patel, who destroyed the room even though it was quiet and he was trying out new stuff. If you get a chance to see him, jump on it.

I’m looking forward to the competition heat next week, but at the same time I’ll be very glad when it’s out of the way and I can stop practicing the same set at every gig. I’m bored out of my skull with the material and itching to try out some different stuff.

Gig Count to Date: 41


Back on form at Comedy Virgins

Just the one gig last week; Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms.

I’ve been feeling a little deflated recently – even though I’ve been trying to improve my act, it just doesn’t feel as easy as it used to, the laughs haven’t been coming as readily as they did in the first few months I was doing stand-up.

But I can always rely on a night at the Cav to give me a confidence boost, and when I got called up to the stage (third act of the night) everything worked well.  I did my usual set with a couple of new bits thrown in (including an improvised tag) and the crowd went along with all of it, rewarding me with a place in the clap-off.

I’ve been struggling a little with my opener. A while ago I tried a really simple, punchy one liner that worked brilliantly a few times and scored a big laugh within the first five seconds of my set. I thought I’d stumbled upon some gold-dust with that line, but I’ve learned that it only works half the time. I’ve got a more reliable opener which works pretty much every time, but it’s not quite as punchy and takes closer to 15 seconds to get the laugh. Reluctantly, I’ve abandoned the punchy line because I don’t like being on the back foot when it doesn’t work, but it bugs me that I can’t work out how to make it deliver consistently.

Adding in some new bits meant that I ran out of time too soon, so I tried an abridged version of my closer which worked fairly well and made me realise that there are a few different ways I can deliver that bit depending on how much time I’ve got left. I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a respectable seven minutes of material I can use at the So You Think You’re Funny competition next month.

I didn’t get far in the clap-off, but I don’t mind because there were some strong acts on the bill and it felt good just to get through at all after a run of mediocre feeling spots for me.  It was good to see Akin Omobatin trying out some stuff I hadn’t seen before, the omnipresent Amy Xander also got into the clap-off, and I was impressed by Thea Downie, who I hadn’t seen before.

I got some positive feedback in the bar after the show, which is always good for my fragile, needy ego. The competition is a month away and I think I’m in good shape, I’m not going to try out any more new stuff, just keep doing variations of my current set so get the whole seven minutes of stuff burned into my brain.

Gig Count to Date: 39



Laughing Horse competition, and a bad night at We Are Funny

For most of this year I’ve been trying to focus on getting 7 minutes of material polished for the So You Think You’re Funny competition in June, but about a month ago I was told I’d got a place in the Laughing Horse competition as well, which is a 5 minute spot.

My heat was a couple of weeks ago at the Savoy Tup on the Strand. I was feeling comfortable about it, because I’ve got my best five minutes committed to memory, along with a couple of extra bits I can add in if necessary, so I knew I could at least deliver a competent set.

When I arrived at the venue I bumped into Louise Bastock, who I’ve been a fan of ever since I saw her at Funny Feckers during one of my earliest spots last year, so I had a chinwag with her and Sarah Southern who I’ve also bumped into once or twice before. Once the gig started the room was packed, as some of the acts had brought a lot of friends, so on the plus side there was a decent audience, but on the downside I knew it was going to be tough to win the audience vote.

Because the room was so full the organisers asked second half acts to wait in the bar, which kind of threw me off a little bit – hard to explain, but it meant that I couldn’t get a feel for the energy in the room. I was the second to last act, so I at least had a bit of time in the second half to psyche myself up.

When it was my turn to go up I fell foul of a wonky mic stand, which fell over as I tried to move it out of the way, and that kind of derailed my opener – I can’t really complain because all the other acts had the same issue and I was warned about it. I got back into my stride, but I didn’t do a great job with my delivery and tripped over my words a couple of times, fluffing a key punchline at one point.

I’ve got to get better at dealing with an audience that doesn’t laugh at the right time. With my good set, I know that it’s going to get laughs, but often they just come in unexpected places, and that throws me – either a usually reliable punchline will get nothing, or people will laugh at some part of the setup, and I tend to fumble awkwardly rather than gracefully moving on.

It went OK, I got laughs, but certainly not my finest hour and, needless to say, I didn’t get through to the next stage.

This week I had a spot at We Are Funny Project on Wednesday. I’d been feeling a bit sick of doing my usual routine so much and decided I’d do something else for the sake of my sanity. The problem was that because of a full on week of all the usual Real Life Bullshit, I never got around to planning out a new set.

I got to the gig a little later than the act check-in deadline, and the MC/organiser told me that he’d given my spot to a walk-in. On the one hand I was annoyed at myself, but at the same time I was a little relieved because I hadn’t done my homework. I could relax, so I grabbed a drink and took a seat to stick around for the show. I wasn’t going to fuck off early in a huff because that just seemed like a dumb move. Also, I knew Hubert Mayr was going to be at the gig, and since I’ve been chatting with him a bit online I wanted to watch his set and say hello in person.

After a while the MC told me that since I was being cool about it, he’d let me have a spot after all. I was happy, but I had fuck all material – I could have just done the stuff I’ve been practicing a lot, but I’ve done that for the past two times at WAFP and really didn’t want to do the same stuff again.

I decided to open with a bit from my usual set that seems fairly reliable, and then added a bunch of half-formed, untested bits after that to fill out the rest of the spot. It did not go well – it wasn’t the worst I’ve bombed, but it was definitely one of my shittiest spots.

To make matters worse, the MC gave me a really nice intro (“I always have to put this guy on after 9:30 because he’s so fucking dark I’m worried I’ll get complaints”) – so I just felt bad that I couldn’t deliver the goods after that build-up. Also, the thing about We Are Funny Project is that it seems to attract the more serious open mic acts, and there are always one or two professionals trying out new stuff. With that kind of audience I at least want to look competent.

Only got myself to blame though – if I’m going to break discipline and randomly try new stuff instead of polishing the tested material, I should at least make time to write it and practice it first. Life gets in the way, but so does everybody else’s. And yeah, I’m probably being melodramatic – bombing is all part of the process, everybody has shit nights where new material doesn’t work, but I still want to do better.

Hubert’s set was great, I also saw Amy Xander being fantastic again (I think she’s been at every gig I’ve done for the past two months), and Adam Flood was impressive too.

After the gig I stuck around for a beer with Hubert and Adam – they’ve been going for about the same time as me but gigging much more frequently (lucky, childless bastards). The conversation made me think about where I’m going with this and what kind of progress I can realistically hope to make given that I’m limited to one or two spots a week at best.

For the time being I’m not going to enter any more competitions, because they make me feel like I have to practice the same set over and over so I can do a good job on the night. But I don’t want to do that, I want to try out lots of different stuff and give myself an opportunity to figure out what material I like doing the most, rather than clinging onto the same five minutes of stuff just because I know it’ll work reasonably well.

I thought entering competitions might be a good idea, but they’ve kind of killed the fun of stand-up a bit for me because now every spot feels like it needs to be a rehearsal for the competition. I’d rather just have fun with it and do whatever I feel like each week.

I’m at Comedy Virgins next week.

Gig Count to Date: 38

Note to self, I don’t need notes – my first time at Battersea Power Comedy

The past four weeks have been wildly busy as far as my day job is concerned, so comedy has taken a bit of a back seat, but I’ve managed to get four gigs in since I last posted. I did a spot at Rising Stars a few weeks ago,  then We Are Funny Project last week, and both this week and last week I was at Battersea Power Comedy at The Duchess pub.

I’ve never done Battersea Power before and I’m really glad I tried it out because it’s a great open mic night. The venue is nice (and really convenient for me to get to in SW London) and, even though it’s a room above a pub rather than a dedicated club, the guys who run it have spent a bit of money on the stage and PA system, so it feels good to perform there. It’s a bringer night, but since it’s one that I can drive to it’s relatively easy to persuade a local friend to tag along if I can offer them a lift home.

The first night I did there was at the end of one of the warmest days of the year so far, so the room was half empty as apparently people prefer drinking in the sun to sitting indoors watching amateur comedy, but it was still an OK night. By contrast, for my second spot (last night) the room was completely full and the laughs came easier, so it was a much better night all round.

For these past two gigs I’ve been trying to ween myself back off notes.  I’ve been trying to improve my set since the start of the year, cutting the fat and trying out new bits, and I’ve got into the habit of writing a set list on the back of my hands, but I’ve decided to go cold turkey and just do it without notes.

It’s been going reasonably well, but on both nights I’ve had to stall for time while I remember a bit, and last night I completely forgot to do one of my strongest bits. I think it’s worth pushing on despite these hiccups because it still feels a lot better than spending half the night checking the back of my hand to see which joke comes next. Also, I’ve got to the stage now where I’ve memorised enough material that if I fuck up and miss something out, I can easily throw in another bit to fill the time.

Realising that has given me a shot of confidence, because it’s exactly where I’ve been trying to get to; the point where I can comfortably do five minutes without notes, and be armed with options so that if something isn’t working I can go in a different direction. Now that the material is mostly hardwired into my brain, it feels like I can focus more on delivery and reading the room.

I’m still itching to try out completely new stuff, but I’ve got a couple of competition heats to get through first, where I want to do the best possible version of my current set, so I’m just going to keep working on that until the competitions are finished.

I’ve seen a few strong acts while I’ve been out and about recently. Some names that spring to mind are:

Reuxbere Berera – a brilliant character act playing on the golden age of Broadway musicals. I saw him do two separate sets at Battersea and he was fantastic both times.

Amy from Dorset – can’t find her surname, but I’ve seen her at a few nights recently, she does some great material about life, relationships, London Vs Dorset, and seems pretty polished.

Ciaran Chillingworth – I think he’s well known on the circuit and most people will have bumped into him at one night or another. Does something different every time I see him, and it’s always fantastic. At Rising Stars he did a double act called The Mayor and His Daughter with a woman I didn’t recognise, and it completely devastated the room.

Lots of others, but those are the ones I can remember right now.

Work has returned to a level of normality for now, so I should be able to put  a bit more effort into standup for the forseeable future. Next week I’ve got a heat at the Laughing Horse competition, which I’m looking forward to now that I’m feeling more confident about my act.

Gig Count to Date: 36

Three gigs and life-changing news

It’s been a full on couple of weeks for me – this is my busiest time of the year at work and my mortgage-paying day job has to take priority over everything else, until Netflix offers me a deal. Aside from that, I’ve had some big stuff going on in my personal life; a long lost sister I never knew about has recently got in touch, which is exciting news but kind of hard to take in when I’ve got so much else happening right now.

So I’ve had a lot on my mind, but I’m still trying to make some sort of progress with the stand-up and I’ve done three spots over the past couple of weeks. Last week I did Rising Star at the King and Queen pub. I opened with a quick topical bit I thought up while reading the news on the way to the gig, which got a decent laugh despite being a bit weak in hindsight. After that I got stuck into my usual set, and that went OK but I still wasn’t able to deliver it as smoothly as I’m aiming for.

On the night I was thinking about how I was delivering the same material last year and absolutely killing more often than not with it, but now the same stuff seems to be getting a much more mediocre response. It’s hard to tell whether it’s because I’ve lost some of the meat while I’ve been trying to evolve and sharpen it up, or if I’m just not delivering well enough. Either way, the only real answer is more gigs.

This week I started with We Are Funny Project on Tuesday, and it seemed to go a little better. I didn’t try to throw in any topical material, and stuck with my best five minutes, but I still couldn’t quite make it all the way through the material without peeking at the set list written on the back of my hand. I feel like I’m getting closer, but I really won’t be happy until I can deliver the whole set without thinking about it. And again, the only answer is more gigs.

Tuesday was also a bit of a downer because my bringer was my comedy bestie, Pauline, and it was to be the last time I’d see her for a while because she’s heading off traveling before she’s too old. We’ve become good chums since we met on a comedy course eight months ago, so I’ll miss her while she’s gone.

On Wednesday I did a spot at the South Kensington Comedy Club for the first time – I think it’s a relatively new night and seems to be run collaboratively by a few acts I’ve seen around on the circuit. Wednesdays are organised and MC’d by Louise Bastock, who I’ve seen a few times before and been impressed by her utter depravity.

I broke discipline for my set and instead of running through my material I tried to do a bit about being contacted by my sister, but I hadn’t really thought in through and even though I think the premise was OK I fucked up my punchline. I was able to segue reasonably smoothly into my usual set and things went enough after that. Most of it got laughs and there were a few big hitters. As usual though, there was no consistency, it felt like the biggest laughs came from bits that usually only get a mediocre reaction.

On the plus side I think I got through the whole set with barely a glance at my set list. I feel like I’m making progress, just slowly. I’m starting to get really bored of repeating the same material, but I know I need to keep working on it and stay focused on my objective – working it up to a solid 7 minutes for the SYTYF competition in heat in summer.

I can’t do any gigs next week, which is annoying but unavoidable, but I’ve already got a few booked for April and should hopefully pick up the pace again soon.  I realised that this week has brought me up to over 30 gigs – a small milestone, but still a tiny amount, and I really need to step up my game if I’m going to hit 100 by the end of the year.