We Are Funny is closing, and so is my heart

I’ve not been up to much in terms of stand-up recently – mostly due to a busy period at work, and the ever present struggle of balancing it all with a family. I completely failed to do any spots the whole week I was in New York, but I had a scream there anyway so I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Since my last post I’ve done two spots at We Are Funny, bringing me up to 93 in total; a poor effort for two years. I’m doing so few gigs recently that whenever I go up I’m rusty, and it’s a struggle to deliver my polished material with any degree of confidence, never mind trying out new stuff.

Things have calmed down at work again, and I should now be able to get back into a rythm of gigging more regularly. I’ve got a lot of ideas for how I can evolve my style and build up my existing material into longer bits, and I’ve got a ton of new stuff to think about as well.

The only problem is getting stage time. We Are Funny Project is a night where I do regular spots as often as I can because it’s close to where I work, there’s usually a half decent audience and, most importantly of all, it’s a non-bringer.

It’s hard for me to do bringer nights these days. My friends are over the novelty of coming to watch me and it’s tough to do reciprocal bringers with other acts when I can only get out of the house one or two nights a week.

So, purely for selfish reasons, I’m really sad that We Are Funny has decided to close down, as I’ve got a significant chunk of my stage-time there, and it’s really helped me to develop and try new things. For that, I’m grateful to Alfie and Alex, who have been supportive while I’ve been finding my stage-feet.

I’m not sure where I go from here. Most of the nights in London are bringers and if I do a Be Your Own Bringer (some nights let you go as an audience member one show, then perform on another) then that means I’m doing one gig per two nights out of the house, which drastically reduces the number of gigs I can manage per month.

Doing just a few gigs a month feels pointless, it makes practicing and developing really hard, realistically I should be trying to do two or three spots most weeks.

I know this sounds like I’m on a downer about comedy, but I’m really not – I just need to figure out a new plan for how I keep doing it. I need to spend some time updating the list of open-mic nights, to see if I can find any other regular non-bringers where I can get spots. Maybe cast my net a bit wider than central London and look at places around Surrey and Sussex – I live near Epsom, so getting out there is easy and I don’t mind driving to gigs.

Lion’s Den Comedy Car Crash was a great option for me in the early days because it’s a non-bringer and you don’t have to book ahead, so long as I got there early enough a spot was usually certain – but Tuesday is the one night of the week I can’t gig these days.

Another idea is to set up my own open-mic night closer to home, as I don’t think there are any near where I live. That would be a good way to get regular stage-time, although I don’t doubt it creates a lot of admin headaches too, but there must be a reasonable number of acts who live around SW London (Kingston, Epsom, etc) who would want to jump on a regular local gig.

This would be a last resort – I don’t want to be an MC, and I really don’t want to take on a ton of work, but if it’s the only way I can keep doing comedy regularly then maybe it’s worth considering.

Anyway. I’m doing nothing next week – I was booked on the Monday night heat of the So You Think You’re Funny competition but got bumped off that because apparently you’re not allowed to enter it twice.

So my next booked spot is at We Are Funny on July 1st, then I’m on at Angel Comedy RAW on July 10th – I need to try and get a couple more spots in between otherwise I’ll be very rusty when I do RAW and it’s the kind of night where you want to be on your game. That said, Monday the 8th is the only night I can realistically fit a gig in and I don’t know where I’ll be able to do that – unless I can conjour up a bringer from somewhere and try for a walk-in spot at Comedy Virgins.

3 Replies to “We Are Funny is closing, and so is my heart”

  1. I’m seriously starting to feel like Mexico isn’t nearly far away enough from my own country and I need to go away for the next 4 years or more. So you may have a regular bringer next year if you need one, as long as you promise not to tell me anything that is happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

    In any case, best of luck with everything in the meantime.

  2. Yeah, i’m with Gary on this one ^ though i do have some sympathy with the workload thing. I used to run a monthly night in Shoreditch and a weekly one in Hampstead Heath and it was a fucking ball ache. A LOT of hard work. But fortunately it was at a time when i had significantly less responsibilities.

    What disappoints me now, upon a semi-return to open mikery, isn’t so much that Alfie’s packing up (who could blame him). It’s that so many other nights are either bringers or non-bringers-that-dont-bother-promoting. When i *was* able to run a night it wound me up something chronic to see people borrow a room from a pub, “run” a comedy night and do f*ck all promotion and thus continuously allow it to breeze by week-in week-out with 7 or 8 comedians attending. Then 3m later you’d hear they’d stopped the night. I get it, it’s hard work flyering, tweeting, setting up Meetup groups and all that. But I find it hard to believe it’s *so* hard that literally no one in London is even trying it.

  3. Have you considered setting up your own night, but getting in guest MC’s if you don’t want to do it yourself? Of course MC’ing is brilliant experience for all acts.

    Make your night monthly to minimise the admin headache, get in an MC (not hard, plenty out there, Alfie could even recommend some for you) and then always do a spot at your own gig. Got a new 5? Then do it. Want to practice a tight 10? Then open or close your own gig. Simples. Well, once you’ve found a venue and decided how you’re getting bums on seats that is.

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