SHOW 10: 11TH AUGUST
Absolute mayhem before the show. Over crowding.Too many people descending on Espionage. Over enthusiasm to get to my show. People coming into my room while the previous show is still on. A breakdown in queue discipline. The lack of front of house staff is really telling for once. I arrive some 20 minutes before my show is due to start. “You’re early” quips a man who is bound for my show. Is he being sarcastic? I don’t know what he means by that. Whether it is some veiled threat or he sincerely thinks I am early?
Despite the chaos the crowd file in in an orderly fashion and everyone is completely seated by kick off time 3pm. There are no stragglers at the bar. This is a first. I can start dead on 3pm for the first time in history. A hum of anticipation for the audience and we’re off.
The opening moments are subdued and I wonder if I have misgauged it. About 30 seconds in I realise the TV monitors have been left on from the previous show. They are showing a band of coloured vertical stripes. There is no moving picture. I don’t know how much they distract the audience but they certainly distract me. They also illuminate the audience more significantly than usual. I decide to leave the stage and switch them off. This is a risky strategy. They don’t trust me yet and this will look flakey but the alternative seems worse. If I leave them on any subsequent little thing that doesn’t go my way will then get blamed on the TV monitors and my decision to leave them on. My peace of mind is more important than a slick start. So I just announce that I am leaving the stage to switch off the monitors. I re-announce myself with the off stage mic and this seems to reboot the gig in a more positive direction.
I am starting to feel the command of the room more and more now, and I am able to ‘ram the show down the throats of a skeptical audience’ if need be. Today seems like such a day. There is very much a feeling of ‘this is what you’re getting so you may as well like it’. That is just as well because they are not the most raucous of crowds and I don’t even get them with ‘Life is a waste’ It is not until ‘Gay Town’ that I get the first really big laugh of the show, but even in the second half of this routine it falls away and I am wondering what the hell is up with them. Are they really a weekend mainstream crowd or am I getting so frazzled, even at this relatively early juncture, that I am failing to land routines all over the place.
When they do go for something the laughs are big – testament to the large size of the audience. When that happens I am taken aback by their goodwill and energy. Mostly though it is ploughing on. Impossible to get rolls or momentum. I mismanage every single build in the show. Can’t really play with them or push an idea. Difficult to play them off against each other. I think I over perform (in terms of energy, trying too hard). They go for bits but can easily tire of an idea. Feels very scatter gun but also my confidence in the show feels unrecognisable from even 5 days ago. So much better now.
However the punchline at the end of ‘Life is a waste’ works now and that is because I drop that line in earlier in the routine. I realise that this whole routine has to be pushed by my anger at the ex girlfriend and what she has said to me. So it isn’t just a jumping off point, it is a theme I return to throughout the routine to ramp up my resentment and drive the whole thing through. This will need more thorough rework. Ah more work!
“David Attenborough encapsulates the best of British” this doesn’t work today. Mainly an English crowd and I think they think it is some calculated slight against the English rather than an absurd idea that the best example of a thing is a thing that doesn’t contain the characteristics of the thing. This is a matter of tone – like millennials.
Seemed like show went backwards today overall. Some people being very generous with donations. I think a minority enjoyed it very much but I didn’t have a quorum. I felt very even after the show neither elated nor downcast. That perhaps sums up the gig.