Topical material at Rising Stars and Comedy Virgins

I’ve had a good week on the stand-up front. On Tuesday I returned to Rising Stars and took a few colleagues along, since they’ve been asking to come to a show. The night was busier than I expected, and the room was so full that my bringers couldn’t even get in. I wasn’t on until the third segment, so I sent them back down to the bar while I hovered around outside the door, listening to the other acts.

As always, a lot of people had left by the time it got close to the end of the night, so when the third segment started my gang was able to squeeze into the room, which was still impressively full for the final stages of an open mic night.

I had a really bad time at Rising Stars when I was last there – I tried to do some half baked political stuff that wasn’t really working, and about halfway through I did a race joke that landed badly and turned the audience right off me, which made the rest of the set painful. This time I wanted to try a bunch of topical material that I’d thought up over the previous couple of days.

Things didn’t start well when I completely tripped over my words during my opener, but they laughed at my fuckup and I glossed over it by angrily yelling out the punchline. I think I did an OK job of delivering the rest of the set given that it was mostly completely new stuff that I was doing for the first time – I had notes on the back of my hand and was able to get through it without too many awkward pauses.

I can’t say that I got riotous laughter from the audience, but I think they appreciated that I was doing material about very current news stories and I got a warm reception. Towards the end I slipped in the exact same race joke that ruined my life last time I was there, because it fitted nicely into one of the bits I was doing about the UKIP leader’s racist girlfriend – this time it worked a lot better.

What was different? Two things, I think. Firstly, this time I’d done a better job of winning the audience over – they were in a better frame of mind and I think they liked me a bit more than the previous crowd, so they were less ready to crucify me for a slightly over the line joke. Secondly, the audience was more racially mixed this time, compared to almost completely white the time before – and although most of the white people pulled back just a little, the black guys in the room laughed enough to make it work.

The night felt good – I exorcised the demons from my previous time at Rising Stars, and did a bunch of not too shabby topical stuff instead of my usual parenting/dick based material.

On Wednesday I had a spot at the Cavendish Arms, and did a refined version of the same set. It went even better because the material had sunk in a bit, so my delivery was more confident, and I’d had time to tighten it up with some stronger punchlines. On top of that, I had a bit of well timed banter with the MC, Twix, that fitted in nicely with the theme of my set, and audiences always reward genuinely off-the-cuff stuff.

Both nights were great, but Wednesday was one of those gigs that reminds you how amazing it feels when you get this stuff right. At this point I need to thank Stobbsy the House Elf for being my bringer on that night, even though she wasn’t feeling well and had a legit excuse to back out. It was a good night all round – every act was solid, the audience was really up for it, and the mood was much higher than it had any right to be on a Wednesday night.

After the show I had a chat with Ginnia Cheng, who saw me on the night I bombed horribly at Rising Stars and sent me a lovely message to reassure me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. She’s just started, and was doing her sixth gig on Wednesday. I didn’t get a chance to speak with Helena Langdon, who did her second gig at the Cav and messaged me afterwards to let me know she reads this blog – so, uh, hello Helena… *waves*

I don’t have any spots booked for next week – although I’m going to the Cavendish on Wednesday to +1 a friend who’s got a spot. If we can scrape together a couple of other bringers then I’ll try to get a walk-in, but I’m not too fussed – I can’t really use this week’s topical material again, so I need to do a bit of writing and pull together a new set because I’m bored of my old stuff.

These were gigs #23/#24 – so the next time I go up will be my quarter century.

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