first gig back.

last thursday i did my first live gig in an actual venue since march 2020..

it was in a kids play venue (by day) called Little Giggles…which is what i got. No, it was good to be back, but at the same time not really that big a deal. IT was in Yate near Bristol, and i managed to get a train all the way and back.,

wasn’t really nervous, but i couldn’t recall much of my material. still, stand up comedy is like riding a bike. But , as Kevin McCarthy (who was also on the bill) said to me, ‘Last time i rode a bike i fell off’. but hey that’s funny.

Nick Page gave me a lift back to Yate train station, which was nice of him even though it meant i had an hour to wait on a cold platform. got some reading done. Talked to him more tonight than i ever have done before.

It was not an ideal gig in terms of space, sound and lighting, but overall it was a good gig to have after such a long gap away . the audience – about 35 – were nice enough .were they spaced out? yes, but that was something they’d been drinking.

The stage was the most weird thing: a series of cubes with multi coloured lights within each one, a bit like the stage under Travolta when he does his famous dance in Saturday Night Fever…i wasn’t so much stayin alive as tryin not to die !

tip

or recycling centre. it’s a groovy place to go…

so we’re down there about a week ago. and i’m sitting in the passenger seat of the car, literally minding my own business. indeed, i am metaphorically minding my own business as well, which is saying something. my g’friend is driving – this is her gig, after all she’s the one who booked the tip, and has the email on her smart phone to prove it. (yes you got to book the fuckin thing these days – what a drag).

anyway, as we approach the entrance i see the man, with a high viz jacket. it’s normal for them to have someone there on the cornerm checking the number plates as the cars enter.

but i notice this bloke is a bit more forward than usual – he’s making a point of talking to the car dwellers, gets them to open their window so he can lean in and chat. i think ‘ this guy is going slightly overboard ‘ but it’s really just a subtle difference with what i’ve seen there in the past.

But then bear in mind there is a contagious virus going around or, as the patronising woman in the Royal Mail counter said to me the other week: ‘we’re in the middle of a pandemic…?!’

Anyway, we get to the head of the queue. my passenger side window is wound all the way down, but i make a point of putting my head down and remain quiet. I let eleri do all the talking…

As this high viz vest man lurches forward and sticks his head into our car – as i sensed he would – it immediately, or as soon as he opens his mouth, becomes apparent ”e’s not from around ‘ere’..he’s a bleedin cockney ain ‘e”…well, i say cockney, perhaps his accent is from a hundred miles away from London, but his accent in Llansamlet cuts like Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep – which i know is a sweeping statement.

So he blabs to eleri about some admin crap – which he could easily have done from outside the vehicle – like has happened every time in the past….but THEN!!!!

I hear the words “cheer up mate, things can’t be that bad” ..or was it “it might never happen”…either way i fucking knew it ! Something told me he was one of them, one of those strange types who can’t leave someone else who is doing absolutely nothing wrong…alone. My gut told me this was going to happen; It went through my mind as i’d observed him from the queue a few moments before, greedily stuffing his mug into other unsuspecting saloons. -indeed none of that posturing was necessary as all he has to do was glance at his portable computer and tick the box with registration of the car going past and into the tip – easy!

But maybe it was the odd fact that he wasn’t sticking to the simple method that made my wary. I thought ‘ i know i’ll deliberately clam up, like a cocoon, and just sit here with my head down and say nothing. Just to see what happens.

And he went for it….but i didn’t give him any satisfaction. after his callous words i remained stoic, still with my head down, still glancing away, and to the right. So i caught eleri’s eye as she smiled at his vociferous critique of my dead pan persona.

I’ve encountered this before, where someone basically tells me to cheer up. i hate it. what right have they to tell anybody that ?? how do they know what i feel? what do they know about my day, where i’ve just come from, what’s just happened to me, whether i’m a depressed, bi-polar skitzophrenic AIDS sufferer or not? But more importantly, what have i done to them to deserve a comment like that? nothing that’s what…still, it makes you think.

I mean, i’m guessing there’s people out there who can’t stand quiet in a group, or silence in an individual. Maybe it reminds them of something painful. or maybe it a challenge to something inside them. But imagine that quality multiplied, imagine the mob taking that on ….fuckin hell it’d be like the Nazis, where all non happy looking individuals, all people with sad countenances, all of the quiet ones, get rounded up and used as the scape goats – and skateboards – of society, the doormats of the power in charge. Let the de-humanisation begin.

of course, from his POV it’s quite possible he wasn’t posturing, and that it wasn’t a conscious act. But social behaviour is a mixed up bag at the best of times, it’s a mixed up shook up Lola kaleidoscope. But let’s put it in a more realistic perspective: he’s doing his job; i didn’t do anything to obstruct him in his job. so why does he see the need to get some reaction from me? did he stick his head in my girlfriend’s car expecting a chat? did it give him a tremendous rush? Did he really need some feedback from the passenger as well as the driver ? Why though? it was nothing to do with anything.

Yet i knew he was going to do it – sometimes i can read people. But only people i don’t know it seems.

I like going to the tip.

Film list not sincere

check this out:

100 best comedy films of all time, according to critics – Flipboard

It’s a list of 100 best comedy films of all time as voted for by readers of Newsweek, some american rag.

who am i to complain? i am nothing but a child dripping in the residue of naivety, But just glance at the list and see if you think what i think….that the list is strange, weird; messed up@~”$%&£

It’s got film that aren’t comedy film on it, films that a million miles away from being comedies e.g. Three Billboards.

It’s got a few Woody Allen films, ok, a few Chaplin films, a Marx Bros film…but there’s not one Laurel and Hardy. Not one! i mean that team worked their bollocks off to make the world laugh in the thirties…even if you don’t think they’re nuanced or sophisticated or a satire on social morays come on ! They made people laugh FFS.

There’s not one Zuker bros film, or Farelly bros film present. But Knocked Up is on the list, a piece of shit.

Yes i know a comedy film doesn’t have to consist of belly laughs, and yes i know it can be clever and subtle. but it seems to me that’ funny’ is an essential ingredient.

To be honest i need to check the list again, but it made me so sad last time i looked. The contributors have twisted the meaning of the word comedy, or just forgotten it, and it reeks of middle class bourgeoisie pretentiousness. The saddest thing is that the magazine by publishing such a list mocks the idea of filmic comedy. By not acknowledging proper comedy films they have failed to take the art form seriously.

BBC

a few weeks ago i wrote some stuff about political comedy – whatever that is.

One thing i mentioned -or , rather, one person, was Ian Cognito. I said he never did ‘telly’.

Cognito was pround of that fact. I said that that was a political decision on his part even though Ian was never described as a political comedian.

In fact I wasn’t sure at the time if not doing comedy was in fact a political decision. But i recently read a great book: BBC , myth of a public service.

Having read that i can now categorically see and say that if you are a comedian who refuses to appear on TV – or at least the BBC – then yes it does involve a political consequence. Because, if you believe the book, the BBC is not neutral, – as a lot of us like to think – but is actually in cahoots with teh state, and always been since its inception.

So, in the same way, when my ideas for programmes are all rejected by BBC radio…I’m no longer depressed as i was, no longer upset in the same way…for there is an agenda. And if i don’t fit that agenda then GOOD! I’m glad.

Where’s the mic stand ?

The thing about comedy which i find a complete mystery is reflected in how different audiences and critics perceive my act.

and how diverse those perceptions are.

In recent years i have been described by one tweeter as a comedian “who reminds me of a 70s comedian”.

I have been complained about because of ‘racist’ gags.

Offensive.

A comedian who does ‘spaz’ jokes.

Then also i get told my stuff goes over people’s heads, on a regular basis.

At the same time i am a ‘lovely comic’, silly, Tommy Cooperesque.

Some just think i’m funny. They laugh when i do my act for them. Simple.

One lady once refused to book me after seeing a satirical song of mine on Youtube and concluded from it that I’m anti welsh language! Me???

But here’s the strangest thing i have come to realise – though i don’t know how i’ll ever prove this –

The strangest, weirdest phenomenon regarding stand up comedy is: if you put the same comedian in front of the same audience, but alter the physical aspects of the room, like maybe locate the audience in a different room or venue, and/or with different lighting and sound, get the talkers at the bar to shut up, close teh bar as oppsoed to have it open during the comedy, etc etc -…then the comedian will go down differently…maybe better, maybe worse.

I mean, i’ve become convinced of this after years of playing all sorts of different rooms, convinced that i can be ‘seen’ as an unfunny crap comedian by one group, say, in a badly set up rugby club in the midlands,

but

when you put the same crowd in, say, a nicely lit small theatre in Boston, Lincolnshire,’ll they watch my act, same act, and respond positively, thinking i’m fun, or even a comic genius.

(THE TWO GIGS COULD BE SPREAD OUT OVER A COUPLE OF YEARS so the audience in second gig wouldn’t remember the material)

I have actually experienced this…or close enough.

And i guess the mindset of the audience is a factor.

So the depressed, drunk group, the unruly crowd who have not paid to come in,

They probably won’t go for me as enthusiastically as a group who have paid to watch the comedy.

Most comedians would tell you that a wedding gig e.g is more difficult than a comedy club. and that is a simple example of what i’m saying. They have not paid to watch comedy, they are probably not the kind of people who would even attend a live comedy event – except for a TV comic’s show perhaps; they are drinking and eating, and there are kids present. Oh and there is no mic stand

But i have noticed that these differences in perception are on a spectrum that go along with subtle differences to lighting, sound, ambience of room, seating arrangement, etc

It brings to mind that idea from quantum mechanics, that you change something just by looking at it, partly because you need the energy of light to look at it.

In the same way an audience brings its own energy to a comedy gig….it could be good, bad, or anywhere in between.

yes live comedy is a 2 way thing.

In fact i think it is debatable whether a comedian should always blame him/herself if he goes down badly. That is, to say you blame the audience feels like a bad workman blaming the tools, and therefore you ‘mustn’t’ do that. And yes there have been plenty of occasions after gigs where i have shouldered the blame for not going down well, and felt terrible about it.

But i also know that i have done gigs where i was blameless, where i was shoved in a corner of a pub, with kids running around, a terrible sound system, no lighting, people talking, no mic stand (yes it is common to attend gigs where the comedian is expected to hold the microphone in their hand, though a musican would always be given one);…and at the end of doing my time i am blamed by the organisers for being crap….but i KNOW it’s not my bad. A comedian is often expected to crowd manage, to placate loud drunks, be nice to riotous small kids, to quieten a torrent of noise, to compete with TV screens and fruit machines. Miracle work in other words. Who do they think i am, Jesus?.

So in a way it all comes down to audience attention and attitude – and how that can be nurtured, via theatrical conditions, into one cohesive whole.

So, the best wedding gig i ever did was in a hotel near Taunton. where the organisers had singled out a separate function room where they set up lights, a proper sound system, and arranged the seats into intimate rows – so really it was like a comedy club.

With cruise ship audience – i really did try hard to please them. But the first night, they wander in from the rest of the ship, – so it’s kind of effectively free entry – it’s formal wear, so they’re in dinner suits and ball gowns – not conducive to my chaotic loose type of comedy (though i hasten to add i was wearing a suit too), and i think a lot of them there have a definite expectation of what a good comedian is, and are inflexible in that view.

   But hey maybe you are right when you say that i might be too ‘clever’ for the ‘mainstream’…That word mainstream is interesting. because the mainstream is constantly changing.

maybe i am not a good enough comedian – or maybe i’m rambling.