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