day 6: incremental leaps

So I compered last night’s showcase, and it went very well.

It was such a huge relief for me because I’d been so panicky and blocked about it – but the new-look lunchtime show had gone passably well, Tony was having a night off, I’d just done some good off-the-cuff banter at a gig I’d done for David Mulholland (it’s odd how he is so often responsible for the gigs that give me confidence as a performer) and I felt like it was time to grasp the nettle again.

I think I was a little stuttery for the first few sentences, because I was so nervous – but then I did some jokes, got some laughs, talked to two people near the front, got a little laugh from each of them, told them they were very welcome, did a few more jokes that even got a little applause break, and then just focused on getting the acts on and off efficiently with no more than a quick gag and a laugh between each one to keep the laugh-count high while the crowd settled themselves.

Basically, I compered it pretty well. Not exceptionally or outstandingly, and certainly not with the slick crowd work that Tony had done the night before; but pretty well. And now I know that it’s not a complete impossibility for me to ever compere well again, I’m quite happy for Tony to do it the rest of the time…it’s just nice to know now that it’s because he wants to and I don’t, rather than because I’m not competent to do it.

The other acts were pretty great, too – Rik Moore is a perfect opener, he’s just so likeable and charming, Tania Edwards was as delightul as always (though I think she was feeling a little tired), Fraser’s new opening about how to get revenge on a cheating girlfriend was pretty special, Loz delivered the laughs beautifully as always, and Mark Simmons, who asked me to only describe him as a headliner after his set if he did well, made sure he deserved the title with a really slick performance. Plus, even though the room was only two-thirds full, we got the biggest money collection of the run so far.

It often seems to be small things, apparently tiny incremental developments, which often feel like giant leaps – it wasn’t really a big change to have a different MC for one night, and it was really just another compering gig – I’ve done them before and it’s quite possible that I’ll do them again – but it’s a big leap for dealing with my own issues of crushing self doubt…

The same applies to the lunchtime show – doing it as a three-hander would probably appear to the average member of the public to make very little difference to before, especially since much of the same material has stayed. But in terms of our confidence in presenting an hour of comedy to people, I think we’re all more comfortable.

It was my first (and hopefully, only) four-gig day of the run: after the lunchtime show, the quickly-put-together showcase that David Mulholland booked me for at the Dragonfly, and the evening Scurvy showcase, I had a Laughing Horse gig at the Meadow Bar. It was okay, but I was exhausted and the audience weren’t really ready for my full ‘big butts’ rant, but I got away with it because I feel at home in it, now – every time I do it, even if it doesn’t work, is a tiny improvement.

And afterwards I went home and slept – it was the sleep of someone who had got better at something.

CTD: Audience – medium; Performance – passable (6/10)

Thing at the Dragonfly: Audience – about ten people, filled the room; Performance – good (7/10)

SSS: Audience – not quite full; Performance – Good, solid compering (7/10)

Meadow Bar Showcase: Audience – about half-full; Performance – pretty lame (4/10)

Other Stuff: improving…

Overall: WIN

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