Back to the Lion’s Den – open-mic #2

I’ve been away on holiday and wanted to get on stage as soon as possible, so I went back to the Lion’s Den Comedy Car Crash open-mic night on Tuesday evening and got there early to make sure I got a spot.

While I was waiting to get in I got talking to a guy called James SorryI’veForgottenYourSurname who I’d seen a couple of weeks earlier doing his first open spot on the same night I did mine, and once we got into the club we compared notes over a beer. It was good to get a perspective from somebody who’s in the same situation as me – up until that point the only other acts I’d really spoken to are the people who did the course with me.

As the bar filled up ahead of the show, a few more people from the previous show turned up, nods of recognition and chit-chat ensued, and I was happy that people remembered my act well enough to comment on some of the material I’d delivered a couple of weeks ago.

My plan for these early open-mic nights was to get more comfortable on stage and start to piece together a respectable five minutes of material that I can memorise completely, so that when I’m on stage I can focus on delivery rather than thinking about what I’m going to say next. But during the day I thought up some topical stuff that neatly tied together a couple of big news stories of the week, and I really wanted to use it while it was relevant. So I decided that tonight I’d start with the topical stuff, and then run through some of my existing bits if I had enough time.

I wanted this to be the first time I went up without any notes but, because I was doing some new material, I decided that I needed to scribble a set-list onto my hand. Lessons: write it on the back of your hand because if you write on your palm it’s going to get smudged by condensation on cold beer bottles; also,  biro doesn’t wash off easily so you may end up going to work in the morning with random shit written on your hands.

At the Lion’s Den, they draw the the next performer’s name out of a bag after each act, so you never know when you’re going up. Last time I went up very early and this time I went up close to the end, which was fine except for the fact that a lot of people had already left so the room was half empty. No problem, I’m sure there are going to be a lot of nights like this – I’d just plough on with my act, even if the room was silent for five minutes.

I forgot to record my set, so I don’t fully remember how it all went, but….

One of the other acts did some crowd work earlier and called me out for being a gym-rat (nice that people notice!) so I opened with an improvised call-back to that, which earned an OK laugh, before launching into my topical material.

This section went OK, considering that I hadn’t worked it all the way through, some bits didn’t have solid punchlines, and I didn’t deliver parts of it as well as I’d hoped – but it was pretty dark, which the audience liked. There were titters throughout and one or two bigger laughs. Again, the laughs didn’t always come where I expected, and some bits fell flat. When a punchline gets nothing I just push on, don’t acknowledge it, just go straight onto the next bit – I don’t know if this is the best way of handling it, but I’d rather just move on and try for the next laugh than waste time.

The segue into the existing material that I wanted to practice was clumsy, and I think that threw the audience a little. It went down reasonably well, considering the empty room, but I didn’t do the best job of delivering it and think it could really work better if I add a bit more flair to the performance. On the upside my timing was pretty much spot on, and by the time I got the light to let me know I had 30 seconds left, I was ready to deliver my closer.

Again, my link to this bit wasn’t smooth so it didn’t flow well and although it got a small laugh it wasn’t what I hoped for. I also didn’t really end the set gracefully, just put the mic back and wandered off stage while they were tittering – I should probably thank the audience or something instead of just fucking off awkwardly.

I felt a lot more relaxed on stage this time around I was able to think more about my delivery, even though I’ve still got a lot of work to do on that.

The act who went up after me seemed reasonably polished and had some good material, but he started his set by saying “I’m not sure I can follow that guy…” which gave my ego a boner. I promise not to milk every shred of positive feedback I get, but at this early stage I’m clinging to any encouragement that suggests I’m not just making a massive twat of myself and that I might eventually become a passable stand-up.

The final act to get drawn was James, the guy I spoke to at the start of the night. For his second time he did brilliantly – he’s got some great material, delivers it well and already looks relaxed on stage. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more of him in future.

Final note – I’ve been given a spot at the Funny Feckers night in Camden at the end of September, so I’m aiming to get as polished as I can before that night. I know they film the acts and it would be great if I could get a video of a killer performance, so that means I need to get as much stage-time as possible before then and really focus on putting together a five minute set that I know is going to work well.

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