SHOW 16: 18TH AUGUST
The sheer incompetence of Edinburgh baristas continues to impress me. Last week I was served by a man who admitted that he had little-to-no training, apologised in advance saying that the coffee would “probably be shit” and deliberately undercharged me by way of prior in-built compensation. He now stands as a beacon to the halcyon days of customer service. We will never see his like again. By week three the quality of service has now gone off a cliff edge. The woman serving me today is so slow it has become performance art. I hang about, kind of intrigued to see if she will ever actually serve me. There is something hypnotic in her slowness. The coffee may never arrive. She is confused by how much change I am owed (25 pence) and how this will be composed (one twenty pence piece and one five pence piece). She hands over the coffee but looks traumatised. I finally get a coffee 20 minutes before the show but as I have to set up the room I don’t have much time to imbibe any coffee until about five minutes to go.
When I open the house there is an audience stampede like the opening of the January sales. The rush physically forces me back into the room. I would like to think that this signifies a craze to get hold of genuine Stephen Carlin at discounted prices but I suspected the Saturday madness has led to a breakdown in queue discipline. A couple bring in a toddler in a pushchair. I explain it is probably not suitable for their kid. They insist on staying even as I tell them I am worried I will bend their child’s mind. They look worried but stay out of defiance.
A double edged sword of a gig. A very full room but not necessarily the ideal audience. The room is fuller than it ever has been. People are standing. It no doubt exceeds fire regulations. There is little natural energy in the room. The audience look normal enough but they don’t feel normal. They are not particularly responsive off the top. It is hot. They may be boozed up. They may not be comedy regulars. It may be me. I perhaps should have done crowd work at the start. But this would be against my self imposed rule and I refrain from doing so. I hope they will pick as I go on but they feel sluggish today.
I start sweating at around ten minute mark, I think it is the heat and not pressure.
I really feel the caffeine kick in at about the 15 minutes mark. I suddenly feel sharper, more focused, taller, more purposeful, the delivery sounds sharper but perhaps the caffeine has done something to my ears?
I chop and change orders today to try to get momentum going but it doesn’t make much difference.
There are moments when I pull the delivery back and it gets a little traction but I am also worried that taking it down too much will cause it to dwindle. There are times when I wait for them and they come but by God they are so slow, they are like the girl serving me coffee, I could wait all day for them. What is the answer?
I can’t really pick it up today. They are with me to the end, except the people who walk out at the back and then start chatting in the adjoining room.
I should have ended on Animals today. I do a truncated form of Vegetarians after it but why I do this we do not know.
I am control today but don’t enjoy it much. I think I lean in too much today, go after them too much, over perform, try to inject too much energy. I should have sat back more, took longer, lowered my energy, let them come to me. It may not have worked but at least I could have experimented on them. From now on I think I am going to use difficult audiences for guinea pigs. If they are not going to enjoy it I may as well get useful data out of them that I can use on better future audiences.