The one where I shambolically MC a show at short notice…

I’m in a busy period at work this month, and for another couple of weeks, so apologies if things are a bit quiet round here. The only biggish thing that’s happened recently is I got another shot at MCing We Are Funny Project much earlier than expected, because this week they had to shuffle some things around at the last minute so I took the reins on Monday night.

I wasn’t supposed to MC again until April, so I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for it, but under the circumstances I thought that even if I did a less than ideal job it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The thing about MCing somebody else’s night is that there’s quite a bit of setup and admin that you need to deal with; getting the venue set up, checking in the acts, organising the running order, dealing with cash, etc. The upshot of this is that you don’t really get to sit around trying to get in the zone before you go on stage – you’re dealing with logistics, and then you need to be ready to go on all of a sudden.

So, this time around I didn’t do a stellar job of all the house-keeping stuff that an MC is supposed to do at the start of the night – how the night’s going to work, when the breaks are, what time we finish, etc. I think I just about covered the basics before doing a few minutes of material to warm the audience up. I didn’t even do the rudimentary crowd-work that’s required of MCs.

In the end, none of that really mattered because for a change there were pretty much no dropouts, so we had a lot of acts to get through and by keeping my waffling to a minimum we were able to make sure that the whole night ran to time. It helped that every single one of the acts was great – even a first-timer (Walter Thomas) smashed it – which meant that I never really needed to bring the energy back up after a bomb.

Was it the smoothest display of MCing prowess in the history of open mic comedy? No, but the energy was great and everybody had a good time. Every now and then I did a quick bit of material in between acts, when I could think of something to build on what they’d talked about, but that was more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.

At the start of the second half I did a couple of minutes of the new stuff I’ve been working on, and that seemed to go pretty well. Depressingly, however, the biggest laugh I got all night was when I tried to discretely wave my phone to give an act the light, but it slipped out of my hand and went flying into the audience.

The headliner was Gerry Bakewell, who was always going to finish the night in style – and I was really pleased that he threw in a few shots at me, call-backs to bits of my material from earlier in the night.

So, I didn’t really do much actual MCing in the end, just calling up a long list of great acts, with occasional bits of my own material thrown in for good measure, and in the end it all worked out fine.

Other than that, I’ve been focusing a lot on writing recently. Now that I’m at a point where I can comfortably trot out five minutes of safe, reliable material, I’m trying to move away from all the jokes about parenting I’ve been relying on. I never really wanted to do so much material about parenting, but inevitably, since it’s such a big part of my life right now, that’s where most of the inspiration came from and it also seems to be the stuff that worked best for me.

But I’m moving on from that now – I want to cover more interesting topics, and put together a strong ten minutes, so that’s my focus for the rest of this year.

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