Back to Basics Comedy Podcast Episode 9 – Luke Craig

I’ve wanted to get Luke Craig on the podcast for a while, so I’m really pleased we were finally able to persuade him to chat with us. I first saw Luke at the Cavendish Arms about 18 months ago and was immediately impressed with his act – you can get a taste of his material in this five minute set at Up the Creek’s Beat the Blackout night.

In this episode, Luke talks to us about his journey so far, his approach to writing material, and we bitch about our kids quite a lot…

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We Are Funny Project Relaunch Show

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.

Back to Basics Comedy Podcast Episode 8 – Red Richardson

Red Richardson has been described by Chortle as one of the most exciting new comedians in recent years, and you only need to watch him in action to understand why.

In this episode, Red explains how he went from knowing almost nothing about stand-up comedy to becoming a full time comic in under five years.

You can find him on Twitter here.

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Stepping up to 10 minutes

Ken Grinell giving Vauxhall Comedy Club a good spanking.

The past few week have been a little busy, so I’ve been slack in posting an update here. If you’ve been paying attention you’ve probably noticed the podcast is back from the dead – we’ve got into a regular weekly cadence and already had a few decent guests on, so hopefully we can build up a bit of momentum with it this time around.

I’ve managed a paltry three gigs since my last post, another 10 minutes at Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion, 7 Minutes at Vauxhall Comedy, and 5 at Comedy Virgins. I feel like I’m in a bit of an awkard phase at the moment – I’d got to the point where I was fairly comfortable with my 5 minute set and it worked reliably most of the time, so I was ready to start start trying new stuff and doing longer sets.

The problem is that after you’ve got used to things going well at pretty much every gig, it’s a real kick in the spuds when things stop going as well. I think the mistake I’ve made with longer sets is changing too much – I’ve reorganised my existing bits and added in too many new bits. This means I’m struggling to remember it all, so I have to use notes, which means my delivery is shit and my confidence takes a beating, and the whole this is just crap.

A few more seasoned acts have suggested not trying to do so much – just because I have twice as much time, doesn’t mean I need to do twice as much material. So next time I have a ten spot I’m just going to try doing my best five-minutes of stuff, but taking a more relaxed pace with it instead of trying to hit as many punchlines as possible in the time. And if I still have some time left when I’ve finished, I’ll try out a couple of new bits.

Next week I’m doing a spot at the first of the rebooted We Are Funny gigs in Dalston – as well as a new venue, the night is going to have new people running it and everybody involved is trying to make the first night one to remember, so if you’re at a loose end then your attendance would be greatly appreciated.

After that I’ve got a couple more spots at Sam Rhodes on the 23rd and 28th of this month, but I need to get my shit together and book some more spots because I’ve really taken my foot off the pedal recently.

I’m probably not going to be blogging about every single gig any more, because there’s really not much to say about so many of them. But I’ll write up the ones where something interesting happens, and try to post a bit more useful stuff about what I’m learning along the way.

Back to Basics Comedy Podcast Episode 7 – Ross Smith

Anybody on the open mic scene in London over recent years will recognise Ross Smith, as a long-standing host of the popular Comedy Virgins night at the Cavendish Arms, as well as Angel Comedy at the Bill Murray Pub.

He’s created two succesful Edinburgh shows, and is a regular face at comedy clubs in London and around the UK.

In this episode, Ross talks about how he got into standup and dealt with his early struggle to work out exactly what kind of comedy he should be doing, and delves into how he writes new material and improves as a comedian.

You can find Ross on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

The video recording of this podcast is available on Facebook.

There are more podcast episodes here.