I spend the day working on the material Berlin Guy - Vodka Girl - Safe Word- Teddy Bear. Rewriting, streamlining, working on phrasing. I don’t know if any of it has sunken in or whether I will revert to the old way on stage.
I am hoping to build upon yesterdays performance but I am also aware of the power of complacency and the illusion of continuity with a whole new audience.
The sisters court yard is horrendous tonight. It is 8pm and I am queuing and having my bag searched just to gain access to my venue. I then navigate the courtyard which tonight is one of Dante’s Circles of Hell. I feel wretched just coming through the drunken melee which is on a scale I have never seen before even at the three sisters. I walk upstairs to my room and pass the audience who are already queuing up for my show. They seem surprisingly sane.
I worry that they look too sane and that I am now lowering my guard. My head doesn’t feel in gear. The audience are chatty as they come in. Normally I would think this was good, But last nights audience were quiet as they came in and turned out to be a good audience. In my head this now means that tonight’s will be bad. Ah the fallacy of patterns!
Fortunately the experience of coming through the Three Sisters Courtyard provides a common reference point for the start of the show. The sheer relief of the audience to be out of the hell gives a got jumping off point.
I always seem to land the opening routine ‘Football’ now. It always lands as a whole even if the audience don’t go for every individual punchline. I have learned to think of it as a whole and not worry about individual punchlines. Tonight there are football fans in the audience. This gives it an added frisson as I rip into football. It also helps me pitch the tone.
I have a feeling very early on that this audience is there for the taking but I am not getting the most out of them. I notice as early as ‘Bag’ that the momentum is slipping a bit but I pull it back at the end of that routine. Possibly the best ending of “Bag” yet. Really because I knew was in a bit of trouble and I had to make the end work so I really sold it. By ‘MDMA’ routine I do notice further slippage. The momentum has dropped further. I even fake a mistake by saying MDF instead of MDMA so i can ‘riff’ around my ‘mistake’. But this doesn’t tackle the problem.
The show is running slightly ahead and I am aware that the energy of the audience is dropping bit by bit. I can see it fading away if I continue at this rate. I think my pace must be slightly too fast. When I get to heroin material I take a drink, I am taking a lot of drinks tonight, but it is hot. I reset the pace here and almost immediately the energy picks up. 9-11 is also one of the older parts of the show. It is more established in my head and I have the rhythm more down so this is a good place to reset.
I am amazed at how much the momentum picks up through Marijuana despite screwing up some of the delivery. I can feel my concentration isn’t 100%, but just because I nail the rhythm the whole routine lifts. By the time I end ‘9-11’ and then ‘Father being PC’ the show is back on track.
I take a drink. I take a breath. I now launch into Berlin Guy - Vodka Girl - Safe Word- Teddy Bear. I will now see if what I practiced today has stuck in my mind.
This routine really takes off at the Berlin Guy. It is amazing how a little changing of the intent has made all the difference between it being a pointless distraction and a springboard for the rest of the section. There is a momentum through Vodka Girl tonight that I have never experienced in any part of the run. There is different quality to the laughter. I am trying to get the audience ahead of me in this routine. Tonight when I can achieve it, it is sweet. For the first time they are really buying into this story. When I get to the bit where I list loads of vodkas, it fails to catch. I persists with it but to no avail. I then experiment with speeding up and it works and the whole thing is back on track. Teddy Bear girl works better than any previous gig. I try out a different punchline at the end and it doesn’t work as well as the regular one but it doesn’t really dent the momentum. This is the apex of the show. this really feels like a show tonight and not a series of routines.
I haven’t quite finessed the final routine “Donald Trump” This dips a bit compared to the previous section but it still feels like an end and I feel like I have earned the applause tonight.
A flawed but very satisfying performance. Not as good as yesterday, but from my point of view, more rewarding. Also the show coalesced more. I suspect despite the flaws it was better for the audience too. At moments I glanced a higher insight into performance than i have seen before. I hope I don’t forget it.
Order of material is really important and can totally transform the show.