Monday, February 13, 2006

So, a year and a bit ago i did my first standup gig and because i wasnt instantly brilliant i didnt manage to fulfil the promise i made the compere that night ie. to do 15 gigs before i decided whether it was for me. i in fact did none.

then in the summer of last year i decided to enter the bbc standup competition again, which was what got me doing the first one and again i got thru to the heats. this time, i thought i might actually get some practise in before so i managed to take a course in standup, albeit the last lesson. However, it was still invaluable and I got signed up to a comedy competition here in Dublin at the same time.

5 gigs and 2 weeks later i was in the semi-final of the competition and having the time of my life.

3 days later i was in London doing the bbc gig and this time made a decent go of it. They laughed at everything rather than every other thing (or less, to be honest)

anyway - by some strange process I'm not going to go into, by november it became apparent that I was going to be supporting a big name comedian at a big name venue in February and that I would need some serious experience if I was going to stand a chance. So I'd like to thank every comedian and comedy promoter in the city who responded to my plea and bumped me up the waiting lists to play their clubs (even though nobody reads this and its a nonymous blog, the gratitude must be noted somewhere) because without them i wouldnt have stood a chance.

So, after 26 gigs spread out over 6 months or so, I found myself, somehow, supporting Jimmy Carr at Vicar St. A burgeoning comedy legend at the best venue in the city is not an offer you can turn down (though i spent the last week trying to figure out how i could).

It went well. I think. That's what my friends tell me. I wouldnt know. I was barely there. I think Jimmy introduced me and took 5 more minutes to calm the rowdy audience down - telling them not to heckle me in the process - and then i think i came on and attempted to do my set. I'd already soundchecked earlier so i didnt feel unduly strange up on the stage but i'd forgotten two things:

1. the mic was especially sybillant, so my lispy, slightly wah-wah kiddy voice came out sounding rubbish
2. i couldnt see a damn thing. Correction: I could see an all-embracing sheer wall of light with 1100 shadowy figures behind it.

It's not an ideal situation if you're trying to communicate with an audience. Nor is having someone heckle you in the middle of your first word on stage. Sure, i'd prepared for that and got through it with enough success to open up and do my thing without thinking i'd lost them from the outset. The big fear was always going to be 'what if they dont laugh?'. Obviously. But to clarify, it's 'what if they dont laugh at the first joke?'. that's more specifically painful because it sets the tone for the rest of it and because just as dangerously, it is my longest joke without any jokey asides or other chances for them to laugh. If I dont get the big laugh at the end of it, the next 9 minutes are going to be very .... very....uh.... shit. Yes, that's the word alright.

So, hurrah, they laugh. Big enough to regard it as a good start and im even forced to pause while they continue. I'm happy and launch into the proper set that's filled with one-liners, two-liners and even some three-liners. Things are going well. The majority of them even laugh at a joke that has NEVER worked on more than 10% of an audience before (why do i keep it in the set? because i 'save' it with an explanation afterwards which is part of the set. And because it's clever, goddamit). Those that get it feel very good about themselves, i can tell. Next joke, about kitchen equipment, gets such a laugh that i finally realise what im doing and who im doing it to. It also goes from one kind of laughter to another: in this case 'ha!ha!' to 'eeeuuurrrggghhhh! I feel dirty and wrong' and i celebrate the fact that i've offended a Jimmy Carr audience.

other things to mention:

i forgot to time it and panicked (you dont really want to overrun at someone else's gig when the audience dont know who you are and dont care either), thus dropping my bestest joke from the set. 30 seconds after i went off i doubt they recalled who i was - i think the 'best' joke might have stuck in their minds somewhat. oh well

i got nastily heckled a few minutes in and had literally no response. What i did (don't ask) in the face of it became the only 100% spontaneous moment of my set and won me laughter, applause and the goodwill of the audience to the point where they all, en masse, grabbed my hand, prised open my fingers and climbed in, settling down comfortably for the rest of the show. oh yes, i had them. i only wished it were my show so i didnt have to give them back to Mr Carr.

i went off to a huge wave of applause and i think i was even smiling but by the time i reached the curtain, i was gutted. I didn't know why and at first put it down to not doing my best joke. But an hour later when im drinking champagne in the Green Room surrounded by people im proud to call my friends and im still in a shit mood? And 3 hours later in a pub being lauded by all and sundry for my performance? and 2 days later when i have plain forgotten i even did it? It hit me the other day - i'd worked, on and off, for 4 months on this. To be ready to do 10 minutes on stage at Vicar St and not utterly fuck-up. Nobody knows for sure but im told I must be the comedian with the least experience ever to perform there (there are Des Bishop's proteges to consider though). I can't tell you the shit, crap, bollocks, and sheer bloody heartache i've been through trying to get it together for this small slot. So much so I can't even be bothered to do an innuendo joke on the words 'small slot' in the previous sentence. And they're begging for it. So I guess I walked off stage with an 'is that it?', post-natal depression-style attitude. And i have neglected my baby because I havent done another gig since, i cant be arsed to do another gig next (certainly not to less than a thousand people, anyway) and i cant be arsed to do my pisspoor material ever again. If im not as good as Jimmy Carr* is, right now, Im just not interested.

Thanks anyway. You've been great.

*forget TV's Jimmy Carr. I can guess what you think of that incarnation. See him live. He's deadly.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This guy

is a new blogger

and if im honest

and i am

i have to declare an interest

because he's my friend

and i like him

it's just a happy coincidence that he's a good writer, thinker and axe-grinder

so go give him some love

for the man wouldnt know how to write an untruth if he tried

sign seen in a take-away fish&chips restaurant in Bray at the weekend:

"Potato Cakes in a Bun with Chips (and milkshake)" E4.99

Now im no nutritionist but isnt that simply the most over-the-top Irish meal you've ever seen? It's some deep fried carbs stuffed into some baked carbs and accompanied by some deep fried carbs (and milkshake).

And my three Irish companions, to whom i pointed this out, found it not in the least unusual. They found me unusual for even mentioning it.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

yes, it's Fistula Fortnight here and we're celebrating some of the great Fistula specialists of the world. Today's heroes all come from Nigeria - im a particular fan of the 9th chap down, who was surely born to play his part in Fistula eradication from West Africa.


how CAN you tell the difference between a Jellyfish and the ghost of a Jellyfish?


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