If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that I’ve just started wandering into the world of stand up comedy (If you’ve not been reading the blog, I detailed my first foray into the world of stand up here). It is similar and yet massively different to the world of magic, and I’m enjoying the ride. After my first gig I felt euphoric. After my second, less so.
My second gig was a “gong” style show. I had been warned that these were a terrible idea for new comics, as they are largely popularity contests and the winners are not always a true reflection of a good comedy act, but I was in it for the stage time. I figure any time I can get on a stage and take out the mic counts as a gig, so let’s see what happens. Tonight’s venue was at the Funhouse Club in Worcester.
I was travelling down with a friend who was also performing that night and I think we were the last to arrive, meaning that there was very little time to prepare. The host, Spiky Mike, asked if we had any preference about where we wanted to be on the bill. Wanting to get it over with, I went for spot 2 (I’ve always been a “rip the plaster straight off” kinda guy!). We went into the club (really the corner of a pub with organised seating). The stage looked good, though my immediate concern was the it was a big step up to reach it.
I could trip on that.
This could be THAT gig.
I then spent the next ten minutes practising walking up the step.
Practice over, I thought it best to refresh myself of my material. I was basically planning to do the same set I did for my first gig, hoping to hone it a bit more. To be honest, the preparation for this gig was not ideal. I’d been performing magic at a wedding in the afternoon and had to rush to the comedy gig. Normally, I’d be rehearsing lines and material on the way to the gig, but having a travelling companion, this would have been slightly rude, so I didn’t. This few minutes before I went on was all I had, so I took the opportunity to have a quick read through.
At this point, I was still unsure as to the mechanics of how a gong show actually works. Some are decidedly more evil than others. In most, three audience members are given cards, signs or whatever and, if they don’t like the act, they hold them in the air. If all three go up, you get “gonged” off, usually accompanied by a piece of depressingly apt music.
The gong show tonight though was a bit more complicated and, rather than explain it, I’m just going to copy and paste it from the Funhouse website:
“Each act gets a guaranteed 2 mins, after this point, lights flash and 5 selected audience members hold up cards. If at least 3 are red, it’s time to leave. You can also be voted off by the compere or promoter if you are doing material that has been largely stolen or is blatantly racist. If at least 3 are green, then carry on until they flash again approx 90 seconds later. (Lights usually only flash during pauses, not mid-gag) If you survive 5 minutes, you are in the final, where you get one minute to convince the audience you should win.”
So know you know.
Tonight, instead of cards, the audience members had glowsticks, two of which weren’t working. It was like appearing at a very poorly attended rave. The first act did really well and lasted the whole five minutes. Then I took to the stage…
My practice with the step had paid off: I didn’t trip over – RESULT!
I don’t know if it was the lack of practice, or the thought of being gonged off at any point, but I didn’t feel as good as my first gig. Not even close. I got through the first round ok, but got gonged off at the second voting.
Still, it was another opportunity to take the microphone out of the stand.
I’ll be honest, I was a little bit disappointed not to last the five minutes, but when I compare the preparation that went into the first gig to this one, I’m not surprised. I spent ages on the day of the first gig, going through material, editing, writing and rehearsing. For this gig, the day had been a non stop rush to get to various venues in time and virtually no time had been spent on comedy.
I stuck around to watch my companion and a few of the other acts, including one who showed the audience a picture of her vagina! To be fair, she was also very funny too, but, once someone’s shown you her vagina, you’re not going to remember her jokes.
After I dropped my companion off, I went through the material again and listened to my recording of the night.
I was rushed.
It didn’t flow.
I’m amazed that I got through the first round. I spend the rest of the car journey rehearsing my material and immediately come up with some ideas.
Damn! If only I’d had time to do this earlier…
The next day, I get a text.
“The lady with the vagina won.”
I’ve got to get myself one of those….