Hello darlinks – I know it’s been a while since I updated here, so I’ll try to remember the biggest things that have happened over the past couple of months.
First up, I’ll be getting a little more involved in We Are Funny Project on Monday nights at The Jago in Dalston. Alfie, the guy who set up the night up years ago, is trying to focus on some other stuff and has got a new team to manage the show in his absence, and I’m happy to be a more regular fixture alongside the rest of the crew. I’m going to MC there semi-regularly, and generally be an extra pair of hands on deck.
If you’ve not been to a WAFP show for a while I’d recommend checking it out again because the show has evolved a bit since moving to the new venue and the new team getting stuck in.
Max Turner Prize 2020
I have mixed feelings about doing competitions because I know that I’m not really the kind of act that typically does well in them, but they’re always fun to enter because you’re usually guaranteed a decent audience compared to a typical open mic night. So if you just treat it as any other gig, and don’t focus on the competitive element, they can be great.
The Max Turner Prize at Comedy Virgins is an annual favourite – the venue’s easy for me to get home from at the end of the show, it’s a nice place where I always bump into some friendly faces, and the vibe is just generally great.
I did my first heat towards the end of January and was happy with my set – a mix of newer stuff that’s been working well and nuggets of old gold. I delivered it well, the audience went along with it, I even threw in a bit of off-the-cuff crowd work which went OK, so I walked off the stage feeling like I’d given it a good shot.
But I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get through to the next round because every single act was fantastic. I kind of miss the time when I could go to any open mic night and at least a third of the acts would be terrible, it was good for my ego, but these days everybody seems so much better than a couple of years ago. It was a good night, but my war was over.
Until the next morning, when I got a message telling me I’d been put through to the next round as an MC’s wildcard choice by Twix who is a QUEEN AND A LEGEND AND MY EVERYTHING.
Unfortunately I let her down by completely flubbing my second round performance. I had a good set that I’ve performed a lot recently, so it was fresh in my mind and I knew it was working well, but I did a few things wrong.
- I tried to change too many things too late in the day. I already had a half-baked idea to throw in a topical bit about something in the news that day, but hadn’t really thought it through or practiced it properly. Also, I bumped into an act I knew in the bar before the show and had a mild panic that one of my newer bits might be too similar to some stuff I’d seen her do before. Not wanting to risk stitching her up if I went up before her, I did a quick mental re-hash of the bit to make sure it absolutely couldn’t be interpreted as being too similar to her material.
- For my bringer I dragged along an old school-mate, so I was kind of obliged to have a beer and a chat with him before the show, which meant that I wasn’t focusing on getting my set right in my head before I went up.
- I volunteered to go up first, knowing I was unlikely to go through to the next round I didn’t mind taking the bullet – but it also gave me less time to work out my plan.
In the end I completely shat the bed. I wasn’t as smooth as I’d been at other gigs recently, including the previous heat, I tripped over my words, fluffed the new bits, and once things started to go wrong panic set in and, instead of delivering the decent material I’ve been using recently, I regurgitated a bunch of older stuff that only really won me a few stilted laughs.
I felt annoyed with myself more than anything else – mostly because I knew quite a few of the acts in the room and it felt bad to do such a crappy job in front of my peers. For the past couple of months I really felt like I’d been stepping up a level, so to put in a performance that I would have been embarrassed by even two years ago dragged me right back down to earth with a bump.
But onwards and upwards. Now that I’m at a point where I have 5-10 minutes of mostly good stuff that I can (usually) make work, I’m focusing on building it into a rock-solid 10 minutes (with some backup material in the bag). Last night I was back at WAFP, and I threw in a couple of minutes of new material about my relationship with my dad, which is an area I’ve been wanting to dig into for a while because it’s a bit of a goldmine. It went well for a first outing, and I got good feedback, which I was pleased by because I completely forgot to deliver the main punchline to the new bit, so there’s definitely something to work with there.
One of my goals for this year, other than doing more MCing, is to spread my wings a bit further and do some spots outside of London. I live near Epsom, so getting out into Surrey and Sussex is easy for me, and there are a bunch of places out there where I can get spots, so I’m starting this week at Stand Up Horsham.