I didn’t manage to do a gig last week because I had a lot of social stuff on and couldn’t risk the wrath of my wife by adding an extra night out to an already busy week. But on Monday of this week I did a spot at the first of the rebooted We Are Funny Project gigs at the new venue (The Jago, Dalston).
Alfie, the promoter, is handing the night over to a new team to take forward, and wanted the first night to go well, so he asked everybody on the bill to bring a few friends – I casually mentioned it to a work-friend and she ended up bringing half the office (alright, seven people).
So we had a decent sized audience and Alfie had made sure the line-up was strong, with some great up and coming acts, Brandon Palmer on MC duties, and headliner Mark Dolan closing the night brilliantly. Sometimes when pro acts headline open mic nights they tend to phone it in, but Mark was firing on all cylinders and left the room in pieces.
I opened the second half of the evening and I have mixed feelings about it. Objectively, I killed. I’ve watched the video a few times and there’s a lot of loud laughter all the way through my set – and even though some of that is no doubt down to my colleagues being supportive, the whole room was on fire.
That said, I was sloppy. I hadn’t gigged for the best part of two weeks so I was rusty. I was trying out a new, untested opener, and I was focusing too much on how I should deliver it. When I went up to the stage my colleagues went nuts, and that kind of threw me onto the back foot because I’m used to walking on to polite applause, not whooping and cheering. The laughs were bigger than you’d usually get at an open mic, and that put me off my flow.
All of this is small, petty stuff that wouldn’t faze a professional comedian. I mean, what kind of comic gets put off by the audience laughing too hard? But all the same, there were a few times in my set where I blanked and had to sneak a look at my set-list to remember what bit to do next.
I styled it out, and the audience was very forgiving (it helps that the material is fairly decent) so no harm no foul. Big laughs all the way through, back-slaps after the show, what more can you ask for? Jerry Bakewell gave me a high-five as I walked off stage, which made me feel cool as fuck. But I’m still annoyed with myself for fumbling, even if the audience didn’t notice or care – I should be able to do that set without missing a beat.
On the plus side, the new opener worked pretty well, so I’m going to work with it and see if I can build it out into a bigger bit. It flows nicely into the rest of my set, and I’m pretty comfortable with most of that stuff now, even if I did trip over it a bit on Monday. I’m reasonably confident that I can get through it all without using a set list again.
I’ve got a couple of spots at Comedy Explosion over the next couple of weeks, and maybe I can squeeze one or two other in during that time as well – I’m going to focus on just practicing the set as it is so I can deliver it smoothly and with confidence, rather than trying out anything new.
I’ve done it before, I can do it again, and this time with better material.
No podcast this week because our guest had to bale and we didn’t have time to organise a replacement, but next week we’re going to be speaking with Luke Craig, who’s been a favourite act of mine since I first saw him at the Cavendish a year or so ago.
In other news, I’m going to have a go at MCing a night in mid-November, but that’s kind of under wraps at the moment and I’ll share more details soon.