I had an interesting question come through my site from Gracie who asked: "...do you ever bomb? All the gig reports are very positive, which is great, but I just wonder if being positive is your general outlook on life or if you’ve reached a level in your profession where bombing doesn’t really happen anymore?"
It was interesting that Gracie should ask this as I was just talking to a few comedian friends about this very topic. One of the things I have learned from this blog is that the ups and downs of my year are actually quite rare. I've been performing for over 19 years now, (5 years in the duo The Bunta Boys and 14 years as a stand up) so I'm guessing over that time the experience has built up that I know how to approach most gigs. Even if I am uncertain before I take the stage I can usually work it out as I go along.
This took me by surprise because I would have said that there were more tougher gigs in a year. I think what happens is you rarely talk to your friends about how well a gig went, you only ever talk about the shitty ones. Nobody is interested in hearing about how you killed but your comedic friends will gather around to hear about you taking a shit in your hat. Heck, one of the regular questions journalists ask is, "What was your toughest gig?" People are drawn to the sadistic stories rather than a tale of victory. Why wouldn't they? They usually make great stories. Since there is a tendency to concentrate on shitty gigs it implies there are more in a year. This blog has turned that theory on its head.
I've definitely bombed in my day and anyone who listens to "Can You Take This Photo Please?" would be able to recall my gig at the beginning of 2011 where I died so badly in front of rugby league club owners I heard a poster peel off a wall and float to the ground. That's right: I heard gravity. Yet that was the last gig where I can genuinely say I really sucked at my job. It doesn't matter that there were circumstances that lead to this moment, the fact is I didn't succeed at my job. I am certain there would be people who have sat in audiences that are laughing who haven't enjoyed my jokes and would disagree with this. Yet if other people are having fun and you're not it doesn't mean I'm not funny, it just means I'm not to your taste. There is a difference.
I think also over time you start to evaluate gigs differently. When I was younger and less experienced I took every gig that wasn't amazing to heart. Now I know some gigs are just a bit quiet. You're not bombing, it just turns out the audience collectively doesn't have a loud laugh in them. Those are the types of gigs that used to kill me when I was younger but now I recognise them for what they are. On the other side of this equation though is that I rarely score a major thrill out of performing any more. I enjoy a lot of gigs but I probably wouldn't be able to discern between them as much if it wasn't for this blog. So the lows are diluted but the highs are also not quite what they used to be. I guess I have more of a thrill out of a show like The Shelf where I book the acts and help produce the night than when I just headline a gig.
Another part of the equation is I say yes to less shitty gigs too. When I was starting out I would perform on a milk crate under a lamp with no intro in front of a pissed footy team to gain any stage experience. Now I will gladly say no to those gigs. Knowing which gigs are worthwhile and which gigs should be avoided is a skill you learn over time. It is an important skill too as you really don't need a sub par gig denting your confidence.
Here's hoping my answer to this question doesn't mean I go and die tonight! I've attempted to be as honest as possible in my appraisal of gigs this year and have been just as surprised at the evenness of the shows. When you add all of these things together I think it makes sense that this would be the outcome but you never know when some horrendous gig is just around the corner waiting to take you by surprise. That is the beauty of stand up comedy.
Here's my set list from The Portland Hotel:
Break Up Through History
We're Dancing Guy
Homeless in New York
Destroying a Nerd
Reconnecting to True Feelings
Felix and Twitter
"That Won't Get Him A Job"
No Need To Share All Your Opinions
Watching Movies Out of Context
This gig was a lot more fun than the previous night and pretty much due to the fact we didn't have a stroppy drunk Canadian in the audience. It is amazing how one bad egg can ruin a night or at the very least put a taint on the crowd. This night was full of people looking to have a great time and it showed with the performances. Dil Jayasinha was much more comfortable with a good crowd to play with and did an excellent job of kicking the show off. Kevin Kropinyeri, Xavier Toby and a few of the improvisers from The Big Hoo-Ha put on an excellent first half that really gave the audience value for their buck. I often think if the first half is excellent you essentially get the headliner for free and that is what the gig felt like last night.
I decided to change things up a bit by moving some material I usually would leave for the middle of a set and placing it right near the front. This allowed me to improvise more around the material because I am so comfortable with those stories. This also gave me a good energy and I enjoyed performing some of the newer material finding new gags along the way.
Another boring blog about a fun night that didn't result in anything other than the audience having a good time. I hope you're sticking with me because as I said before, a bad gig is just around the corner. I'm off to one now so for those sadists who read this blog, keep your fingers crossed, something tasty might be coming your way soon.
15th of August, 2013