SHOW 22 -24TH AUGUST
I once witnessed an ambulance lying on its side after a traffic accident crash. It had landed on the pavement amidst a load of signs and lampposts and phoneboxes but had miraculously manage to avoid hitting any of them. It looked an impossible feat. I kept replaying the crash in my head but I could never make the ambulance NOT hit the various paraphernalia on the way in. Its position seemed to defy the laws of physics. How the hell had it crashed like that and not smashed everything up?
It was a minor miracle you may say. Today I achieve a similar minor miracle in my show. I managed to crash a whole routine entirely in the midst of a great show. And how I do it, I don’t quite know.
The audience are on board from the start. They are supportive, I am getting rolling laughs, everything is landing, I am relaxed, I am really milking the funny bits, I start finding better ways to perform the routines, I am using my face more, I am in the zone, I have found my rhythm, I am getting rounds of applause from bits that never get rounds of applause, basically I am having the gig of the run.
Even earlier in the gig, when the audience stare in silence as I reference the film Momento with Guy Pearce and it is clear that none of them have heard of it, even then I make it into something. A sort of defiance against the odds of how-will-I-land-this-routine-when-nobody-gets-the-reference-but-I-try-through-sheer-arraogance-anyway and I do land it. Even the blemishes become something and add to the show and I have that secondary brain back today, the one that is strategising and working ahead and re-ordering and cutting and adding and laying the ground work for the future routines, that guy is back.
It is is true that the ground work for Millennials isn’t actually going that well, the identifying different generations early on and threading them through the narrative, that isn’t going that well. I don’t mean it is going badly, it just isn’t going well in the sense of building anything. But honestly I am on such a high from the current routine going well, I don’t really notice any future problems. I don’t even have that good gig anxiety. The one where the gig is going so well from the start that you feel you can only screw it up from here on in and you spend the rest of the next hour tiptoeing across a highly polished floor carrying a priceless vase dreading the moment you will drop it. It is not one of those priceless vase gigs.
There is still a certain messiness to the performance today and a certain tussle with the audience that gives it enough leeway. A certain robustness I would say that will never sink it. So I do not worry. I never worry in this whole gig. Then at around 45 minutes they just stop laughing and it is stark. It is at the start of “Beautiful Girl” and even the bits that get laughs in bad gigs don’t get laughs. It is the single worse reception of that routine in the run. And I don’t know what I do wrong.
Maybe I mumbled a key part of the set up, perhaps I get the tone wrong, maybe I screw up the transition from the previous routine, possibly my energy is flagging? So I start running through my checklist and make sure articulation is OK, pace is good, voice is varied, nothing works. Whatever it was I was doing that was working before I am not doing it now. It is though somebody has suddenly flicked a switch and I am talking a foreign language. So that whole routine doesn’t land and that is about four minutes and I kind of guess that is it now for the gig. Because that is the second last routine. What has gone wrong? I honestly don’t know. But I get them back with the last routine. So the end is fine but it would have ended better without the cataclysm at “Beautiful Girl” inevitably some of the momentum goes out the gig and suddenly I look mortal.
I don’t know how I managed to bomb one routine so utterly in the midst of a good gig, but I did. And it lay wrecked amongst the rest of the show which was largely un-effected.