This was a tricky gig to get right. At the half time break there was an influx of comedians who were originally at another gig that ended up being cancelled. This meant there was a slight imbalance of comedians to punters and that can lead to the cardinal sin of playing to the back of the crowd. When you have comedians up the back there is a strong desire to make your friends laugh. The problem is there is a big difference between what punters and comedians enjoy. Comedians get more of a kick out of the off the cuff moments and (if you're not careful) can really embrace the self indulgence that can result from that. They will be less impressed by actual material because they have usually seen it before or know the tricks of the trade.
On the other hand you have the punters who will have little use for obscure moments on stage preferring you to do your job and perform your material. You should always play to the audience and think of your friends second. It didn't help though that a table of lads sitting right up the front who were doing their best to not be impressed by any comedians on the bill. Funnily enough if you looked them straight in the eye they engaged immediately but once your attention was gone so was theirs. They weren't horrible but they definitely weren't engaging.
With all of this in mind I set out to perform some material that was a bit obscure to open the set with and then talk about a topic that would appeal to everybody. Then I would finish with strong material that I have just re-engaged with this week. The set list was as follows:
Ad Libs About The Room and Acts
Country Folk vs Inner City Folk
Word in Scrabble
Afghanistan: Marching on Anzac Day
"Hey Be Careful!"
Soldiers Are Funny
Afghanistan: The Worst Sentence Ever
Felix and Twitter
"That Won't Get Him A Job"
No Need To Share All Your Opinions
Watching Movies Out Of Context
I felt a certain responsibility to set a good example of how best to approach this type of gig. Not that anybody was necessarily looking to me for guidance but I think I could have really settled into a very self satisfying type of gig if I had just mucked around onstage. This would have been insulting to the room and the punters who had come to check out the show. What I did was ad lib some stuff at the beginning and then throw in the odd comment throughout the routines that were aimed directly at the comedians. By keeping them engaged with ad libs I then directed the routines toward the punters so they weren't left out of the performance.
It wasn't a difficult gig but it did require me to stay aware and continue to move the energy around. I quite enjoyed the challenge of engaging everybody in different ways and in the process maybe some of the newer kids would learn some skills from what I was doing onstage. This sounds hideously arrogant but I still love watching headliners because I too can learn something new from them. Just a couple of weeks ago I was hosting for Tom Gleeson and there were little tricks I enjoyed watching him employ onstage. You can always learn from a comedian even if they're not necessarily your cup of tea.
A good solid end to a run of gigs for the week. Now everything gears up for the final of season 7 of The Shelf on Monday before I fly back to Perth to perform in two fundraisers for a charity that specialises in finding a cure for MS. At this point I'm hoping to have the following Friday off but until then it is work, work, work.
16th of August, 2013