Tuesday, 31 October 2017



I wish I can remember exactly what I did right at this gig but I doubt I ever will. It was one of those gigs where everything was flowing exactly right. Where it is so enjoyable that the twenty minutes passed in the blink of an eye but simultaneously the gig seemed to be in slow motion so I had masses of thinking time. Being able to consider three of four ways of saying the next line before choosing the best one. This also meant that I found new ways of saying certain lines, new inflections, that gave the routines different meanings.

I hadn’t done a gig for four days and felt woefully out of practice. The only thing that I can think of is that I ate masses of “jelly belly”  jelly beans before taking to the stage. There are jars of jelly beans in the green room. I found the jelly beans very morish. I started of delicately plucking one out of the jar at a time. But by the end I was taking handfuls of jelly beans and shovelling them into my mouth so that the flavours got mixed up in a demented cocktail of artificial flavours. It probably looked fairly disgusting, like that last decadent days of the Roman Empire but with Jelly beans instead of grapes. And don’t think I wasn’t talking during this jelly beans episode because I was, something about how I see the state of the world.  For me sugar is the new caffeine. Unlike caffeine, sugar cannot induce a panic attack because sugar is my friend.

Meanwhile, at the gig, a drunken couple were thrown out at the interval. As I take to the stage I bemoan the opportunity to have my set disrupted by these louts, getting me into a conversational sound for my set. I am really focused on the meaning of the routines and the punchlines but otherwise I am not caught up in the actual wording and it gives a freshness to my material and I find a very natural rhythm. This rhythm isn’t just spoken it extends to my movement on stage. It all fits together. I don’t think I have ever experienced this before onstage - or off. I don’t think I ever will again. Strangely I am really enjoying the set ups and the links between material the most. I am really revelling in all of that and as for the  punchlines they can sort themselves like the cheap whores that they are.

I think about Steve Martin’s advice about the audience being a sea of individual faces and how the comedian’s job is to make them one giant face. I know what he means, I am trying to unite the audience into one conscious mind. I think the whole giant face metaphor is a bit ridiculous but then it does help me visualise and remind me to look at the audience.

I am perhaps hypnotising the audience tonight. I feel I have won them over to the point where I could do anything. But I actually become more choosy about the material I select. And even when I pick a routine I then specifically edit it for this audience. It isn’t caution exactly but it is a certain judiciousness I haven’t quite experienced before. Perhaps this is professionalism? Perhaps this is what being a comedian is actually about? Maybe everything before was not right? Maybe I won’t be able to recreate? Maybe I shouldn’t even try? Maybe I’ll end of being the sort of comedian who demands to have jelly beans in their dressing room.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


* This is my third gig of the evening, not to brag.

There are two late shows tonight. One in the main room downstairs and one in the upstairs room. I have already done the upstairs room. It was enjoyable but as it was the end of the show the audience were starting to loose focus and energy. I question my choice of material. I am trying to fit material from my Edinburgh show into my club set.

I am now doing the main room downstairs. The audience is much bigger here. There is perhaps a five minute gap before I am on downstairs. I don’t really have much chance to think about my choice of material before I am on.

I think my coffee breaks were mistimed earlier. I may be flagging. I drink a coke. The compere has said he will bring me straight on. But I am not ready for just how straight on it is. I am still in the zone from my previous gig. I am very much in character as I walk on stage. It really feels part of the performance tonight (it is).

It is a young crowd.

I open with the Heroin material/ MDMA and then go into Heart Attack material.
Given the youth of the audience tonight, the subject of heart attack has almost has a surreal quality to it. How could any of these people ever have a heart attack? There is a guy down the front stage front who does a sort of groan/laugh. Which is a combination of surprise/mild shock/disapproval/amusement. This ongoing theme will prove comedically useful but irritating on a personal level. I really don’t understand young people any more.

I haven’t quite got the pace right. I should be getting bigger laughs. I spend the first few minutes trying to find the grove, but to no avail. I slightly pick up the pace. That makes it worse! I slow it down. Ah, there we go, we’re in the grove. That picks up the laughs and I am able to get them rolling off each other.

I am now really enjoying doing every line of my set. Savouring the set ups too. I should be taking this time to plan ahead but I am enjoying it too much. Mistake. This is eating into time.
I haven’t gamed planned this enough. I decide to do the entirety of the Air BnB material from my Edinburgh show. This is 7-9 minutes. Given the size of the chunk I have already started it too late in the set now. It will come in just before the end. I am still fine tuning this material for club sets. So it is a bit of a risk and will not give me enough time at the end if I need to put things back together.

The main section of Air BNB works well. It seems that it doesn’t really need fine tuning for clubs - it is already there. A good mix of character material plus, a poke at the Americans. This is the best it has ever gone in a club. I am very pleased with this. I can quit at the American section but I decide to go into the Greek section. This is a whole different tone. It is really a separate routine but subject wise comes off the back of the previous bit. I don’t know if I am going to do it until I do it  This bit of material is scatilogical. As I start it, I realise how sensitive this audience are to this kind of subject matter. They are ahead of me too - which is usually a good sign - but they are ahead with disgust. There are a lot of groans and winces in this section. And not always groans going to laughter. They are enjoying it but they are more uncomfortable. Ideally, I want an audience with the right level of uncomfortableness to obtain the maximum comedy frisson. They are too sensitive. This is perhaps the wrong audience for this bit. Well too late now! I am just going to have find my way through this.

I work my way through this trying to tease the audience through it. I land the end. But it has changed the dynamic of the gig. Ideally I should have done it a few minutes earlier in the set. As it is I finish it with two minutes stage time to go. This is not quite enough time to build the ideal crescendo at the end. I pull out a well tried routine at the end to close the show. But could have wished for a few more minutes.

As the audience file past some people come up and say they have enjoyed my set. All men tonight.  No women. Interesting. There was something about my routine tonight that did not appeal to woman as much as men. I make a wild guess.

Monday, 14 November 2016


Monday, 31 October 2016


Monday, 17 October 2016


Sunday, 21 August 2016


14TH AUGUST 2016 -  SHOW 11

Went to watch a load of shows today. I am feeling buoyant and inspired and upbeat. I have eaten two lots of sushi and a significant amount of coffee.  

An absolute debacle from start to finish. 

There is a palpable lack of traction from the off. There is a strong resistance in sections of the audience to even BEING an audience. In the front row, stage left, there are three older middle aged people. They clearly think that coming here was a mistake almost before I open my mouth. They keep looking at each other in a “What is this?” way. They seem to holding a conversation by staring daggers at each other and periodically me. 

They will become a running sore throughout the gig but like communism I stupidly try to contain it. 

My second routine, about vitamin D, gets interrupted by some distraction, that I can't now remember, and I judge it not worth going back to. I decide to bring forward a routine from later in the show but this just further bewilders the audience. 

I have moments where I try to chat to the audience to bring them in but I am not sure if this is a mistake because it breaks up the rhythm and for what benefit exactly? 

I have a section in the show where I list as many vodkas as I can remember. It works on the audacity and tedium. Some nights I list about 50 vodkas. If I can deliver it correctly it the laughter builds up. Tonight the laughter does not build up. Generally if people are enjoying the show they will enjoy it more at this point. Conversely if they are not enjoying it they will enjoy it less. Tonight as many of them are already hating it, well, this finally breaks the audience but not in the way I intended. 

About ten people leave at this point and finally the three people at the front leave. It is only now that I realise that one of them is on crutches. He leaves very slowly and it is a long room. So he storms out at a snails pace. I cannot have dead air forever. At some point I have to talk and so I start commenting on it. And It becomes really funny. Certainly the highlight of the gig. I have to strike a balance. I cannot mock the afflicted too much. But neither can I pull my punches. He looks in bewilderment at the humour. Why has it got funny now that he is leaving? Is this some elaborate trick being played on him? I certainly hope this episode melts his brain. 

I adlibed for around five minutes on this. I am not sure this is the right thing to do. It does relieve the tension but it comes too late in the show and is in many ways an admission that, with fifteen minutes to go, the show is effectively over. 

I don’t think I have ever tried to bludgeon an audience into liking a show as much as this before. I kept thinking I could break them up until the vodka stuff and then that was it clear that they intended to break me.

I think I may be going deaf too. After the show some audience members complained that they were constantly distracted by the talking of the three people in the front row. I couldn’t even hear them talking and could only feel their hate waves.  With hindsight I should have given them the opportunity to leave and that would have lanced that particular boil. I thought I could play to the rest of the audience and ignore them and to be honest I was kind of getting off on them hating it too. But I guess in non ticketed shows you should sometimes let them go. 

May have been over caffenaited too. At times my tone was sounding a bit over aggressive with audience member and this wasn’t intentional. 

Pretty much stuck to time today so despite absence of laughter I did keep to my rhythm. Am I supposed to take any solace from this whatsoever? 

Made more money in the bucket today per head than any other show in the run? What does that mean?

Monday, 7 December 2015


There are two acts in this section. I am the second act and the first act has done very well. I feel a flicker of apprehension. I really do wonder if I will be able to top that. I try to keep my mind blank before I go on. I just think about how I will walk on stage. I have scrawled the word “face” on my hand in biro. It is to remind myself to do something or not to do something with my face. 

I walk on stage and the mere act of walking gets people laughing. I wish I can remember what it is that I am doing right? I pause looking at them, this just gets more laughter. It feels the perfect comedic moment unsullied by jokes. Any talking or material will just ruin the whole thing. Perhaps I should do this for twenty minutes? I think they are laughing at what they image I will say. And I don’t think anything I will actually say can ever be funnier than what they imagine I will say. It is going really well but I am already in a quandary. How do I start my act? I don’t think I have ever had this sensation on stage before. I am hemmed in by expectation. I have set up some character that is unfulfillable. I know I have to do some transition before I can start the material or it will jar. I soften the persona. I do something with my face, not sure what it is exactly, but it indicates to them a change in gear. It works. The material lands really well and the gig is already at maximum output. I can’t see how it is possible for it to go better from here? This is not an ideal situation because there is no room to build. At best it can only flatline from here on…or dip. 

I think the trick is to convince yourself it is never going as well as it actually is. That way I try harder. Fight for every bit of material, reach for every punchline, avoid cruising. It is human nature to ease off when it is going well and I have to over ride all of that instinct to conserve resources. That is how I can stop complacency creeping in. But it is impossible to not acknowledge it is going really well and I can feel myself taking my foot off the gas a bit. I am telling myself not to do it but it is happening. My inner animal is saying “what are you doing? This is going well enough, take it easy.” I am up against the limits of my will power. I am trying to over ride my sensory input, ego etc.  I wish I was a Kung-Fu expert. Then I could master myself.  The audience are such big laughters that it is also effecting my rhythm. I have to wait a bit to drop the next bit in and this expose the facade of it all. I am trying to give the illusion that this is all a musing but now it is revealed as a serious of set up and punchlines. 

The first ten minutes are at full tilt. Maximum energy. There is little room to go anywhere further. I have mined this approach for all it is worth. I could continue in this vein like a bloated lottery winner  coasting towards death. It is going too well and I am in danger of becoming unplugged from the gig and phoning it in while my mind thinks about something else. Christmas presents?  Charlie Brown and Snoopy? I have to make things more difficult for myself, take a gamble, put myself on the line. I switch into a newer bit of material about God being autistic. I am less familiar with this routine  material than my older stuff. This is a good call. I am less comfortable about it and I am taking a risk. It is forcing me to think each step through. The quality of the laughter seems to change as if it is more engaged with what I am saying whereas the earlier stuff felt more pavlovian response. To be honest it is not that much of a risk at all but it is all relative, compared to the start it is more off piste. 

I am now around the fifteen minute mark, I have to think about wrapping things up. I have a number of options to choose from. I decide to talk about “Having sex for the first time” I have done this routine many times and sometimes I use it to close but tonight it’s choice proves to be an error. It is usually a universal and accessible piece so I don’t know why they don’t go for this as much? There has been a lot of material about sex tonight. Indeed my routine has been sex heavy. Possibly the audience feel it is going over old ground? Maybe it doesn’t sit well with my other choice of material? Perhaps I mismanage the link into? Possibly it is some unrelated performance issue or maybe the audience are tiring now? This section has been going on for fifty minutes now. 
Whatever is the gig noticeably sags at this point. Noticeably to me. I don’t know that the audience notice at all? I am hyper-sensitive to these things. I am forced to switch tactically to something else to end on. It picks up the pace but perhaps I am now dining out on past glories. It works but gives the set an odd, deformed shape. The audience response is generous at the end but I feel strangely depressed. 

I would be interested to know what a harsh audience would have made of this.