I’ve been trying to get a spot at Angel Comedy’s RAW night for over a year. They run the famous Bill Murray comedy venue in Islington, and RAW is the new act/material night they run in the upstairs room of the nearby Camden Head pub.
This week I finally got to do a spot there, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular night. Yes, it’s an upstairs pub room, but it feels like a proper comedy club, and that’s helped by the fact that they manage to pack the room with a lively audience, without relying on the acts to bring people.
The lineup was pretty small compared to the nights I normally do, just eight of us on the bill. I was second to last of the night, and happy to be there because I’d had a bad migraine all afternoon, which really takes the wind out of my sails, so I was grateful to have some extra time to get myself in the zone. There’s a little green room for the acts to wait in before they go on (and by green room, I mean a small corridor by the fire-escape) and it was good to be able to hide out there away from the audience while I cleared my head.
All of the other acts were solid, and I was a little worried that I’d be the weakest link because I wasn’t feeling great but, once the MC called me up, my twitchiness evaporated and I got into the moment. Having a good opener that you don’t need to think about really helps with this. Whatever you’re planning on doing with the rest of the set, if you know you can do your first minute on auto-pilot, that gets you off to a strong start and gives you time to get into your stride before you get to the parts where you have to concentrate a bit harder on what you’re doing.
As it turned out the whole set went brilliantly. I made a conscious effort to be more relaxed and conversational with my delivery, to avoid sounding too rehearsed. It’s hard to pull this off, because the material is very rehearsed. A trick I used was to focus on one audience member in the second row and managed to convince myself I was having a conversation directly with her instead of performing for an audience. It felt like it worked better, but I don’t know if it came across like that.
They laughed at everything, there were no awkward pauses while I waited for laughter that wasn’t coming. I closed on the Racist Baby bit and that went down well, although I need to work on it more because the punchline gets a decent laugh but it feels like I’m ending the story halfway through when I finish the set.
I really wanted to do well at this gig, and in the end I think I did a decent job .
I didn’t recognise any of the other acts apart from Jamie Oliphant, who opened the show and put in his usual strong performance. In the bar I had a chat with Mango Stone, another mid-life soldier, who’s been going on and off for about five years – she delighted and disgusted the crowd with her graphic exploration of her aging muff.
I also got chatting to Joe Yaffie, a very new act who did an amazing job considering it was his sixth gig ever – after he watched my set he realised I was the guy who writes this blog, because he’d read about the racist baby bit in an earlier post. That made me realise that I’ve kept this thing semi-anonymous because when I started out I didn’t really want people to know I was doing it, but I think I’m OK with putting my real name on it now.
Next week I’ll be at We Are Funny Project on Monday.
Gig Count: 55