I did my final gig of the year this week, which also happened to be my 20th ever spot – a nice round number to wrap up 2018. It was a booked spot at The Cavendish Arms Comedy Virgins, and I had a couple of friends along to watch.
I was going to use the spot to practice my polished five minutes that I’m planning to use for the Max Turner Prize in January, but I couldn’t sleep the night before and, while I was lying awake in the small hours, a few ideas about the nativity story came to me. None of it was fully formed, no punchlines, just a bunch of rough ideas, but it was topical and I thought it would be fun to wing it since it was the last gig of the year and would probably be half empty, so it wouldn’t matter if I bombed.
Once I got to the gig I started to feel a bit edgy about the whole idea and worried that I couldn’t pull it off, especially since it turned out to be a busy night after all. All the acts in the first half were solid, and that made me feel even worse about the prospect of dying with half-baked material. I started thinking I might just stick to my original plan and run through my old set again.
But during the break I got chatting to Akin Omobitan and he suggested sandwiching the raw stuff in between tried and tested material, which made a lot of sense. So when I eventually went up, close to the end of the night, I kicked off with a punchy opener that’s worked well a few times for me and then launched into some largely off-the-cuff material based on my 3am flash of inspiration.
It went pretty well. I riffed around the loose ideas and it all kind of worked as the words fell out of my mouth. I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t record it because I can’t remember half of what I said, much less which bits got the biggest laughs. I’ll have to try writing it up from memory and hope I capture the best bits.
Once that well had run dry I fell back onto some old stuff that I knew would help me finish with some big laughs – job done. I came of the stage feeling pretty good about it. Normally I go on stage with a very clear idea of what I’m going to say, but I’ve tried this kind of riffing a couple of times now and it’s great fun to do, especially when you surprise yourself by coming up with some good lines under pressure.
It was a great way to finish off my first year in stand up and I’m itching to get stuck into 2018.
Also on the bill was my comedy BFF, Pauline Stobbs (whose verbal twerking earned her second place in the end of night clap-off) and fellow City Academy alumni, Kathryn Taylor who impressed with a big musical number.
My first gig in the new year is at Funny Feckers on the 4th of January.