Last night I returned to the Felix Bar for my second appearance of the year. This time I was hosting a night that was full of established comedians working on new material for their upcoming Festival shows. What happens on a night like this is that each comedian gets onstage with a vague idea of how they're material is going to work and all claim they'll be done in five minutes. 15-20 minutes later they will walk off stage full of excitement and anxiety over the successe and failure of jokes in their routines. It is a strangely vulnerable time for comedians who can be prickly about any suggestions their material can be improved and wary of any praise as; deep down, they're not certain any of it really worked at all. If you want to have a nice chat with a comedian approach them after they've had a good gig workshopping new material. They're extremely open to any contact that helps boost their suddenly crippled self-esteem. I know I am!
I checked the material I performed there at the beginning of the year and set out to make certain I didn't repeat any of it. I have little idea if there is a regular crowd who turn up every week but in the off chance there is I figured it was best to shake it up. It is a good way to approach the gig anyway regardless of familiar faces in the crowd. There were three brackets but as the show was running long I only performed material at the beginning of the first and second bracket. At the start of the third bracket I did some house keeping (letting the audience know who was on next week, how to find out about upcoming shows etc) so we could bring the show to a close before 11pm. It is important to finish a show at a certain time so if anyone wants to hang around it is their choice. If a show runs late then punters are less likely to return the following week. If the show finishes at a good time (10.30pm is perfect) then if they stay around to 1am then that was the punter's call and since they had a cracking night there is a good chance they'll return the following week. The psychology of running a room is a constant balancing act that changes from act to act, week to week.
This is what I performed in my two sets last night:
Not Tall Enough To Be 40
Fix Your Flaws: I Over Think
No Need To Share All Your Opinions
Tripping and Farting
At the beginning of the show the audience was so much fun that I didn't even finish my last joke. Knowing we had a few comedians on the bill was playing at the back of my mind so when I received a round of applause halfway through my final routine (it involved soy latte´s and the image of Nick Cave in the froth) I decided on the spot that was the perfect place to bow out. At the beginning of the second I kept it tighter than usual as the first bracket had already blown out and I wanted to get the show back on track.
Hosting a comedy show requires a constant awareness of how the night is proceeding. The worst time to talk to a comedian is when they're hosting as they'll often be distracted by everything that is going on in the room. If someone is dying onstage you have to be prepared to bring the audience back to life. If someone is killing it is good to be aware of what they're talking about so you can riff off the back of it and then reset the room for the next act. As the majority of acts on last night are close friends there was plenty of space to have fun. Often these little riffs work in the moment but lose the magic in the retelling. On the other hand if Simon Taylor doesn't use the joke I made after his set (and subsequently gave him permission to use) then he is wasting a funny gag.
All in all a great night and when you pay a measly $12 to see a show that includes Simon, Lehmo, Jeff Green, Stephen K Amos, Dave Thornton, Adam Rozenbachs and Michael Workman you have definitely received a lot of comedy bang for your buck.
7th of February, 2013