I feel completely stuck in a rut at the moment. I’ve been doing a lot of 10 minute bar shows and, while it’s been great to get those longer sets, they’ve just not been going particularly well.
While I’m always keen to beat myself up over everything I did wrong after a mediocre set, most of the recent ones just seem down to bad luck more than anything else. I recently did a spot at a west London pub on a Friday night, and I was really looking forward to it, expecting a decent crowd to be in. And there was, to begin with.
The problem was that I was opening the second half, which is generally supposed to be a good slot in the line-up. But on this particular night, almost the entire audience decided to go for a smoke, get some drinks in, or whatever else, and didn’t bother coming back to the show until halfway through the next act. There was a solitary elderly lady sitting alone in the front row, and a few blokes at a table too far back to really engage with.
It’s happened a few times recently, just bad timing, with my set coinciding with the exact point at which the audience decides to disengage from the show. That said, a few weeks ago I did a pub show for Comedy Lock-In in Boughton, Kent, which did have a decent audience that were interested and engaged, and on this occasion it was completely my fault. I was feeling confident, but for some reason I completely forgot to do half of my material – I got to the end of my set and realised that I’d only done 7 minutes instead of ten.
Once I got off the mic and thought it all through, I realised that I’d skipped a couple of big bits, which explained the lost time. Fuck knows how I managed to do that, because I’d been churning that set out quite a lot – I can only put it down to the stress of driving to deepest darkest Kent after work on a Thursday night. Either way, I didn’t feel happy about it, even though the material I did manage to deliver worked well. This kind of inconsistency isn’t going to help me progress to doing spots in pro clubs.
On top of all that, I’m very bored with my material right now. On a good night with a busy audience I know that I can do ten minutes of stuff that consistently gets enough laughs for me to feel like I’m doing a decent job. But in all honesty I’m not really happy with any of my stuff, it’s not the kind of material I really got into stand-up to do – I just kind of pulled together any old stuff that seems to work, so I could fill ten minutes.
The end result is a set that I don’t really enjoy delivering any more, even when it goes well. I think my mission for the rest of this year needs to be coming up with a completely new set that I feel good about.
I’m doing two ten-spots next week, so that’s as good a time as any to get started.