My recent foray into the world of stand up comedy is going well. Lots better than I expected in fact. A few days ago, I was amazed to actually win a “New Comedian of the Year” competition that was hosted by the very lovely (I would say that, wouldn’t I?) Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool.
I still can’t believe it.
I have been doing their beginner’s course on stand up comedy and was due to perform at a special showcase gig, just for graduates. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the showcase gig didn’t happen, so we decided that we should enter the New Comedian competition instead. There had already been 4 or 5 heats completed, so we added our names to the last heat (along with a few others who weren’t on the course) and got our acts ready.
We would each be doing five minutes, with the winner going through to join the others in the final.
My main concern was remembering my lines, selling it well enough and, of course, getting onto the bloody stage without falling on my backside.
What didn’t help my nerves any was being drawn last out of six, meaning that I had a massive wait until I was on.
Nerves are bad enough, but they were made worse when it became apparent that there were two very drunk people on the front row that were not going to shut up talking. A very funny comedian called Tony Carroll opened the show for us, and expertly dealt with the constant drunken barrage; far better than I could ever have hoped to. After Tony had done his set, there was a short break and the two offending people left (or were evicted).
On with the show.
I have to say that I really enjoyed all the acts before me. All of the people I was doing the class with were absolutely amazing, putting in stellar performances that topped anything we had done in class as preparation. I was so pleased with everybody that I felt even more pressure not to let the side down!
Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn…
YAY! I didn’t fall on my backside!
I was really happy with how it went.
Though I realise that I’m just a beginner and have still have miles of work ahead before I get my own Christmas DVD release, or start packing out Wembley stadium, I was ecstatic! I managed to remember everything without pausing (too much). I didn’t stumble or mumble too much either.
Fortunately, (or should that be unfortunately) our heat was being filmed by the club, so, via the magic of cut, copy and paste, you can see my five minute set here:
After I came off stage I was really on a high. It was a great, albeit small, crowd and they had laughed at bits I thought were funny. I was happy.
I wasn’t even focusing on the competition; in fact, I’d forgotten all about it at this point, but when they announced that I had won the heat, I was as shocked as anyone. Clearly, my bribery skills had worked their magic!
The best thing was that it guaranteed me a spot in the final the following Sunday; so I was going to get even more stage time – great news all round!
For the final, I decided to do the same set again. If I want to get a good act (and I do!), it means working on a small base of material, constantly honing, working and editing it, until it’s as good as it can be. I’m a long way off that, but the material seemed to go well in the heat, and I know it, so I just spent the week tinkering with it to make it as tight as possible.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping to win the final. I thought it would’ve been ace to do that. I was hoping that I might have a chance and definitely wanted to give it my best. I knew nothing about any of the other finalists, apart from one (Darren, another lad from the course, had got through as a wildcard, cos he was just that bloody awesome!). When I arrived, I discovered that a few of the finalists had been on the circuit for 18 months or so. At this point, I didn’t think I had a chance in winning, which, to be honest, came as a bit of a relief, as I was just focusing on remembering my lines and not falling on my backside (can you spot the theme of my worries?).
When I came back from my 42nd toilet break, I was told that I was going on first – excellent! I really was focusing on running my own race. I would be a benchmark (a terrible benchmark is still a benchmark!) for the rest of the acts, and I was glad (though terrified) to be going first.
Here is the scene about ten seconds before I was on stage:
Anyway, I went on, remembered everything and really enjoyed it. It might be an illusion, but I got a lot more laughs from the bigger audience, and, like the heat, everything seemed to work OK.
After all the other acts had gone on, no one was more surprised than me to be announced the winner! I went on stage, thanked the audience, told them to F**K off home (at the request of the MC) and got off the stage a very happy man.
The prize for the competition may very well be TBA; the trophy may very well be non existent, but I was still happy. To win a competition judged, not by a clap off or audience, but by comedians, was a real treat.
I also got some great feedback and tips from the more established comedians and judges, which was really nice.
The course was really great fun. Not only that, but I’ve made some great friends on it too, which isn’t something I expected. I’m really excited to be starting this journey into stand up alongside these guys and having a lot of fun!
If you fancy trying your hand at stand up, I heartily recommend the stand up course at Hot Water Comedy; it really is great fun!