My time in Sydney finishes with three final nights at The Comedy Store. My night started a bit earlier at the Store because I wanted to get in early so I could watch Wil Anderson's first trial show for next year's festival run. If you're in Sydney and keen to see how a show can start out I recommend heading down to the Store this week (Fri-Sun) or next week (Thurs-Sun) as it is really a great opportunity to see the first ideas form and take shape. Also the audience was up for a night of ad libbing and fun which produced not only a fun hour of stand up but also gave us an insight into where Wil might take his show next year. To top it off anytime you have someone like this dude in the audience you know it is a sign things are you going to be fun. Can you pick which cat I'm talking about?
I hung around for my show and watched a strong first half of comedy before having to jump up in the second half. I was on towards the end of the night and decided to begin and end with routines that don't normally start or finish a set. The set list was as follows:
Breaking Up Through History
Invite to Parties
Since the spots are quite short and I didn't want to play around with new material I had to find a different way to challenge myself. The problem with performing new material in a short spot is if it isn't working you don't have enough time to course correct. On a night that is also a show case for the Store it is a little inappropriate to be working on some new ideas, especially when I'm on just before Shane Mauss from the States. I didn't want to accidentally kill a room before the final act hits the stage.
The audience last night felt like they peaked at about the second or third act in to the second half. I was on a couple of acts after that and I watched the audience drop a mild gear halfway through one of the acts. It wasn't the comedian's fault, it was just a case it being a Thursday night and the audience, having already watched a lot of excellent stand up, just start to lag behind. I knew that I would have to set a pace and take the audience with me rather than feed off anything that was coming from the punters.
Starting with the Gym Story and finishing with Hairy Baby gave me different looks at the material onstage. There was a joke early in the Gym Story material that never fails to garner a laugh but as an opening joke it wasn't quite strong enough to start the set. In hindsight it is definitely a joke that has more cache after the audience has gotten to know me a little more. It wasn't until the next joke that the audience felt like they were on board for what type of material I was about to give them.
I was a little worried that the Hairy Baby routine might not have a strong enough ending to finish a set. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong about this. I had wondered if it might be a routine that is best used in the middle of a set as that is where it has always been housed before. That the ending still managed to fly as not only the end to that routine but also as closer to the set was a nice surprise.
These are the different ways you can challenge yourself onstage helping to keep you in the moment while also not derailing a night. It is something that I should remember to do on a more regular basis. It is difficult to explain how you can have your head just moved left of centre by moving a piece of material but it does make a difference and will have to be something I play around with more as the end of the year looms.
24th of October, 2013