This was a gig that happened by accident. I was over at the Imperial Hotel watching a couple of trial shows earlier in the night. I think we've talked about trial shows previously but if you haven't read those blogs I'll give you another (quick) run through. Basically a trial show is where a comedian will perform onstage to a small bunch of people (usually fellow comedians but sometimes general public) with the notes for his or her new show. The idea behind it is just to say some of the routines out loud or explore some of the ideas onstage to see how your show is coming together. I performed a few last year but didn't end up writing about them because I wasn't certain they came under the heading of proper gigs. They're a great way for you to discover the rhythm to your show and find some new ideas.
I watched a couple of trial shows and then after the gig had a bit of a chat to both acts about some of the ideas I had while watching them perform. When I was done with this I knew there were some acts on at Spleen that I would like to check out so I ducked across the road and backstage to say hello. Karl Chandler (promoter of the room and a funny comic in his own right) looked at the line up and noticed he was ahead of time so he offered me a spot at the end of the show. As you know I've been taking it a little easy before everything gets crazy but felt a nice surge of adrenalin at the offer so I decided I'd take him up on it.
With the decision made I now had less than ten minutes (roughly the equivalent of two acts) to work out what I might perform. I had been so unprepared for this spot that I had only two types of routines running through my head: material from my latest show and (very bizarrely!) material that hadn't been performed in a looooooong time, possibly close to a year, maybe even longer than that. I didn't want to produce material from my new solo show (Adelaide Fringe tickets here and Melbourne Comedy Festival tickets here) for two reasons. The material about Afghanistan has been fleshed out and improved to such an extent that I didn't want to reduce it to the bare minimum and ruin the new flow I have with the stories. The other material had only been performed at Spleen a few weeks ago and while they venue has a high turnover I didn't want to disappoint anyone who may have seen me back then.
Instead I embraced the weirdness of only being able to remember material from a couple of years ago. Since I was on last and had been asked at the last moment to perform, I didn't want to stay onstage for too long and do a disservice to the night. There is nothing worst than a comedian deciding since they're on last they should hold the audience captive when all they really want is a couple more laughs before heading home. My goal was to be funny and short. (In time...I've already nailed short in height.)
The set list was as follows:
A Word In Scrabble
Anyone who has been following me for a few years would recognise these routines. I've lost interest in talking about shit gigs in recent times because it feels a little bit too "in" of late. Plenty of comedians talk about how bad his or her gigs were so why add to the chorus? There is of course nothing wrong with talking about these gigs. Heck, they can turn into good therapy for the comic. I just decided until I had a new way into this type of routine then I wasn't interested in performing that type of story.
The Hen's Night and Shaky story though are nearly 12 years old! I first performed these routines in my first solo show "Screw You Misery, I'm the Karaoke Guy!" and they're the type of routines I have only used sporadically in the previous years. If anything I keep them for daytime corporate gigs as they're the type of audience that does not want to be challenged in any way. Could you imagine me performing my "Pro Choice" material to an audience that just really wants to hack into their Chicken Kiev? Well feel free to imagine it because it ain't gonna happen.
Why could I only remember old routines? I have no idea. I did think of some other routines that are more relevant and up to date but I wasn't certain of how long they would take and I didn't want to hold up the show. I could have performed a few routines but they may have blown out the night. I did find it funny that these old gags popped into my head though. Once I decided they were going to be performed it took all the pressure off and I could listen to the previous acts and take in the performances so I could get a read on where the audience was at.
I have to admit it was fun coming back to these routines. They had treated me well for a long time and I can't really remember the last time I have just gotten onstage with no ulterior motive other than to have fun. Funnily enough I feel this blog can sometimes strangle me as I want to find something interesting and inspiring in every show so I have something positive to report. This time though I was just happy to jump up at one of my favourite venues and play for five minutes at the end of the night.
Maybe I should remember to just play more often? I do appreciate the irony in reminding a comedian to have fun at a gig. Might be time to get myself a tattoo, get "Have fun" tattooed across the back of my hand. On the other hand I'd have "Less snacks" but that is a whole other blog. I was so underprepared for this gig that I forgot to take a photo for the blog so instead I'm going to give you this picture of Tom Gleeson that I found while promoting my first podcast of "Can You Take This Photo Please?" for 2014.
5th of February, 2014