GIG 99 CLUB STRAND PALACE HOTEL
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.