I haven’t written anything about comedy in a while so I though I should in case people forget I’m a comedian and just think I am posthumanist anarchist academic. Which I am, but I’m a posthumanist anarchist academic comedian. You know, like Micheal Mcintyre.
On that note, I’ve always wondered when do you get to say that you’re a comedian. Is it A) when you get paid? Or B) from the minute you drag yourself up on stage for another five-minute spot of potential public humiliation, mass apathy, or, if things are going well, actual proper laughs? I’m going to go with option B. Otherwise there’s no point in writing this post.
So anyway, its been a busyish month-for me anyway-of comedianing (that’s what it’s called!) so this is a brief summary and some thoughts which will hopefully be more entertaining than self-indulgent. At any rate as usual everything will be hyper-linked; all the nights I was at are regular and well worth your custom. There are lots of brilliant comedians you’ve not heard of yet out there that you can catch at these nights.
And then there’s me.
(If you haven’t seen me, or need some means of distracting an elderly loved one for five minutes, there are videos of me here)
First stop was Snafu in Aberdeen courtesy of human whirlwind of energy, promoter Naz hussein of Breakneck Comedy for a full ten minute spot. Actually maybe that needs explaining to non-posthuman anarchist academic comedians, indeed, non-comedians generally. Basically the general rule is that open spots are usually five minutes. This then goes up in five minutes increments depending on whether promoters like you, if you’re any good, who you’re willing to suck off and a myriad other factors, each more degrading than the last. It’s good fun. Eventually you might be lucky enough to start doing twenty-minute spots at which point you are a paid comedian. In theory anyway.
At Snafu it was ten minutes. Not because I’m any good but because Naz is reckless, and therefore to be applauded. As it was, I was on first and did a mix of old stuff and new stuff about the economy that I’m trying to finesse a bit. All of which, despite what keeps being variously referred to (not inaccurately to be fair) as ‘clever’, ‘wordy’, ‘intelligent’ or ‘shite’, actually went down pretty well. An attempt was made to capture it on film but alas the memory card was full. Highlights of the night including the despicably young and talented Andrew Sim, compere and charming man Andrew Learmonth and headliner Bratchy who was brilliant in spite of a couple of audience members who were thoroughly wasted and could not even be silenced by having an entire room of people shout ‘fanny’ at them en masse.
Good chat on the way back home with Andrew and David (my first comedy carpool!) and on the way stopped off for petrol at a Dundee service station that turned out to be a magical wonder emporium of amazingness. It even sold a toy that was basically a toy of a slice of cake. A single slice of cake. In the form of a wholly inedible toy. Not a toy slice of cake that tranformed into a robot. Just a toy slice of cake. Not a whole cake. A single slice of cake. Can you imagine seeing a child playing with that? It would be the saddest tableaux in the world. “Little Timmy here will only be needing a toy of a single slice of cake. He hasn’t enough friends to share a whole toy cake with”. For the record, it appeared to be chocolate cake.
Naturally I intend to return at some point at purchase it (if it hasn’t been snapped up already) as evidently it exerts some kind of hypnotic pull for me.
Two days later was The Shack in Edinburgh for their Gong Show. To be honest I was a bit wary of the format, figuring that idea of getting gonged off probably meant that my longer, weirder, wordier material (which is most of it) wouldn’t sit well with an impatient audience baying for blood. So I mostly stuck to ‘proper jokes’. I got through the five minutes but only because my friend had one of the three cards needed to get you gonged off and she had her phone in her hands. The first couple of minutes went okay but then I did one joke which, while it usually works, totally fell flat with a large section of the audience. So it was that when it came to the audience clap-off at the end I was witness to the strange and terrifying sight of one half of the audience clapping and one half just sort of looking at me like I’d fucked their cat without even buying it a saucer of milk first.
Anyway, the earlier bad reaction had forced me to take a detour into a new bit I’d been toying with about my mum shitting herself, which went down well. I suspect there is something inherently amusing about the very idea of a parent shitting themselves in front of you. Maybe it appeals to some anti-authoritarian impulse?
Still, I’m up for it again as it seems like a good format for honing audience skills and forcing you to improvise. Which is good for me and my very long jokes that have to be performed in a painfully exacting manner. Takes me out of my comfort zone anyway.
Next gig was The Ivory Hotel in Glasgow run by Graham Mackie (every Sunday night folks!). An interesting gig though I don’t know that I’d say it went well exactly. It had been a lovely sunny day and so most of the audience had the kind of rosy cheeked, glassy stares of people who’d been drinking in the sun all day. Mostly did a sort of greatest hits but threw in the Mum pooping again just to double-check. Fortunately (or not) the crowd displayed about the same level of apathy for everyone, so I didn’t feel too bad.
Mostly though it was an interesting gig for two reasons; kind of twin poles of comedydomness (it’s a real word). Firstly, one chap did very well (I know, the big bastard, right?). So well that a man stood next to me turned to his girlfriend and said ‘check this guy out, he’s really good’. And he was. But, and this is not a personal criticism but more of a comedy conundrum, his jokes were familiar. Not swiped from other comedians but jokes you may hear in the pub, spruced up with some extra detail. Now I may be a bitter, resentful, angry, but tall and with good teeth, man but I have an ideological bee in my bonnet about writing your own jokes and in the year I’ve been doing stand-up that was the first time I’d seen someone do material that was recognizably not their own. More interesting/depressing/ironic, was that he did so well. Good luck to him, the swine.
Anyway, it led me to think that perhaps the audience doesn’t want jokes about medieval alchemists, economics or my parents untamable bowel movements. But write what you know, that’s what they say.
At the opposite end of the spectrum I got to smoke and chat with the legendary Jim Hobbit who I think is a sort of comedian as shaman type. Although that could have been the smoking. Jim performed and was, as ever, brilliant, and like nothing else on the bill. A master at work. But also someone with a real comedic voice. Can anyone else do The Hobbit’s jokes justice other than the Hobbit? Strangely inspiring.
The month was topped off by seeing the mighty Doug Stanhope kicking the arse out of it at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, which as a fan was brilliant and as a performer was inspirational and terrifying. The bar is pretty high. More gigs lined up for the coming months though so have been trying to get some new material together. Beehive on Monday 9th so I have a whole brand, spanking new five minutes for that in which I try to marry the clever-clever stuff (including a reference to French post-structuralist philosopher Michel Foucault- because I give the audience what they want!) with more stuff about poo. Well, the radical political and symbolic nature of poo anyway.
You should come along. The jokes might be terrible but I wrote them all myself.
Here’s what’s coming up…
Monday, 9th-NewBees@The Beehive Comedy Club, Edinburgh
Monday, 30th-Comedy Variety Show, City Cafe, Edinburgh
Tuesday, 1st-NewBees@The Beehive Comedy Club, Edinburgh
Monday, 21st- Red Raw@The Stand, Edinburgh
Tuesday, 26th-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow