I’d been looking forward to doing this spot ever since I visited Funny Feckers at The Constitution in Camden about a month ago – it’s a great night with a good crowd and a nice, intimate venue. But as things turned out I didn’t get to do a spot the week before, so I was a little rusty, and to make matters worse I was full of a cold and feeling grim, so on the night itself I wasn’t sure I’d be on form.
All the same, I was determined that this would be the night I’d go up without any notes and I was pretty confident that I could remember enough of my material to get through five minutes. I was the sixth act of the night and by the time I got onto the stage I’d forgotten all about my cold.
I delivered the same material as before – resisting the urge to try out new stuff – but right from the off it was a much tighter than before because I consciously tried to be more economical with words and get to the punchlines quicker. I have a tendency to ramble and reiterate the same point two or three times, which is a luxury you can’t afford in a five minute spot, so I’m trying to break that habit.
Without the crutch of a set list I had to trust in my ability to remember which bits were coming next and, largely, it worked out pretty well – at no point was I worried about what to say next, and that meant I could think a little more about my delivery rather than just blurting out the gags and trying to hold it all together.
Because it was all a bit tighter I managed to get through more of my material and used some bits that I usually don’t have time to get to. Also, I realised that a couple of bits just aren’t working – I think they’re solid gags, but they consistently fail to get decent laughs so it’s time to take them out to the woods and put a bullet in them. Conversely, there’s one bit that makes absolutely no sense to me because it doesn’t have any logic to it (I accidentally improvised it one night rather than writing it) and it gets a big laugh every time, so I’m going to keep it in and try to build on it.
It felt like I got a lot more laughs, maybe because I was consciously making an effort with my delivery, but what I really notice was that I got a lot more horrified groans – the noise they make when they’re a little disgusted with themselves for laughing at the gag. And I realised that’s exactly what I want. Making people laugh is one thing, but provoking that more complex reaction feels so much better.
I don’t know if this is ‘finding my voice’ but I certainly feel like I’ve got a better idea of my direction.
It wasn’t perfect, there’s still things that need to improve, but after last night’s gig I suddenly feel like less of a pretender, like I’m on my way to getting good at this. I had been planning to start trying out a new set very soon, but now I’m going to spend a little more time polishing my current material – it feels like it could be a lot sharper with just a few more weeks work, and then I’ll have my first tight-five.
Next week I’m going back to Funny Feckers, but only as a bringer for my friend Pauline, and I’ll be trying to get a spot at Lion’s Den on Tuesday.
I wasn’t quick enough to book another spot at Funny Feckers in October, but I’ll definitely be trying to get back there in November.