I’ve done two spots over the past couple of weeks – a walk-in at The Cavendish Arms last week, and a pre-booked spot at We Are Funny Project yesterday evening. I’ve been itching to try out a new five minute set, but I’ve been too busy/lazy to work out exactly what that routine should contain and spend some time drumming it into my head.
Instead, on both nights, I just tried opening with a couple of new bits that don’t feel too out of place alongside my current material. On the one hand, this makes life easy because I don’t have to try and remember an entire new set, and it means I can still finish strong on reliable material. It does feel lazy though, and I find that it kind of messes up my flow so that nothing works quite as well as it did when I was just delivering my polished material as a complete five minute set.
I think what I really need to do is go through all the new stuff I’ve written and try to craft it into an entirely new five minutes that works as well as the old one. I’m not sure of the best way forward – I like the idea of having a lot of different bits that will work well regardless of what other bits I use in the same set, but it’s starting to feel like working on entirely separate standalone five minute sets will be more successful.
Also, I’m aware that I’m still new to this, so I’m probably over-thinking it and should just keep churning out new material however I can – once I’ve got 100 gigs under my belt I can start worrying about how I fit longer sets together.
Anyway, both nights were pretty good. The first night I performed at WAFP, the place was half empty and it felt like an uphill battle, but last night a first-timer decided it would be good to bring all of his friends along so, along with a decent number of randoms who wandered in from the bar, that meant the place was packed and we had a respectable audience size.
I went on second, after a strong opener, and benefited from a crowd who were still up for it. Most of my stuff worked, but it was quite a young audience and the laughs came in different places, sometimes with more of a slow-burn than usual, and I struggled to get my rhythm – especially since I had changed the set around to accommodate the new bits. This also meant that I hadn’t properly judged the length of the set, and I think I finished at around four minutes rather than using my full five, but I’d got a decent laugh for one of my older bits and decided that was an appropriate time to leave the stage.
At one point I felt like a usually reliable bit had bombed, so I started to wheel out a line I’ve got to help me bounce back from a dead joke, but as I was speaking the original joke started to land and they were laughing over my recovery line, which itself ended up getting a decent laugh once I got it out. I can’t complain – at least they were laughing and now I know that my recovery line works.
A couple of acts stood out – Timothy Banks was good, my kind of sleazy, and I liked Sean Patrick too.
The previous week I was at the Cavendish Arms again – a friend was in town and wanted to see me perform, but I didn’t have anything booked so I thought this would be my best shot at getting a walk in. I got a spot but unfortunately I went up so late that my friend had already had to head off to get his last train home. All the same, it was good to be there, especially since I hadn’t done anything the week before, and I bumped into a few acts I’ve met before.
The feeling was the same as last night though – I’d been too lazy to properly write and rehearse a new set, so I just kicked off with a couple of new bits and then did as much of my old material as I could squeeze into the remaining time.
I’m on a business trip to the US next week, which means I’ll have lots of time sitting around in planes, airports, and hotels – I plan to use that time to sort through all the material I’ve written and put it into a completely new five minute routine. I’ve got spots booked for Rising Stars and the Cavendish on 21/22 November, and I’ll be trying for walk-ins during the rest of the month. My plan is to start doing two spots most weeks – at present I’m averaging about three a month which isn’t good enough.