Well that was my strangest gig yet.
I’m an aspiring stand up, tonight was my eighteenth gig.
As I was standing in the middle of a boxing ring, trying to get one of the two distinct swathes of the audience to respond in some way to my material, I thought to myself how much I’d come on in my brief stand up career. This unusual environment would have really phased me six months ago. It did a little tonight, but mostly I just found it interesting. I forgot to breathe – this happens to me sometimes if it’s a tricky room. It often becomes part of my set – “I’m just going to breathe for a minute if that’s ok, I often forget to breathe around the 5 minute mark. You can breathe with me if you like, I expect some of you already are”.
I resigned myself to no laughs pretty early on – during my mate Martins set before I went on in fact. In the end the audience just wanted to have a drink and a chat with their friends. I don’t blame them, they’d just come out to support their community boxing gym fundraiser, they weren’t really a comedy crowd.
I think they’d have rather have been at home to be honest. I wouldn’t, even though I barely got any laughs, it was a new experience for me (not the no laughs, but the disinterest and number of loud conversations that people were enjoying while the comedians came and went) and that’s all good at this stage.
The people running the night were super lovely too, you don’t mind doing things for lovely people. I’d happily do this night again for them. It’s very rare to get drinks and snacks provided at gigs, let alone a note thanking you for taking part! The boxing gym is clearly a great thing in this area, that was very clear from a couple of lads I chatted to.
It’s also all about playing different sorts of rooms and finding out what works when.
I wish I’d had the balls to throw out my material tonight and rely on my improv chops. I think if I’d have gone into the audience to just have a chat and take the piss out of them, they’d have liked that more. I was just too scared to deviate from my script.
I feel like I’ve got to decide at this point whether I want to slog round these sorts of gigs for the next couple of years or not. I’m 40 next year – a late starter to stand up, but an improviser for 8 years. I always wanted to do standup. I’ve now done nearly 20 gigs, some have gone really well, others not so much, but I’ve proved I can do it. It would be perfectly acceptable to tick that off the bucket list and get back to working my way through Netflix.
But I’ve had the drug now. I’ve had the feeling of making a room full of people belly laugh. It’s a wonderful feeling. It didn’t happen tonight, but every time you go out there it’s possible it could happen again.
7 minutes in Wymondham tomorrow night, and I’m getting £10 for that, taking my career stand up earnings to £15. I think that earns me the right to call myself a professional comedian!