Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Happy New Year, hope you had a nice Christmas, get anything nice?, oh really that’s good, oh yeah party at your mate’s house was it?, best thing really innit, always a let down, Noo Yeer eh, best to stay in and watch Jools Holland’s Shoutathon or whatever the fuck that thing they film in November is called.
On with the public humiliation!
Now. I don’t wish to bite the hand that feeds me (unless it was feeding me coal) and I promised myself I wouldn’t slag anyone off….
It’s generally accepted that bad-mouthing your fellow comedians, or someone’s comedy night, or venue, or whatever, is bad form. Besides, it’s a small-ish community. What goes around, comes around and other clichés.
However, last month I encountered a gig so effortlessly, painfully and fist-chewingly awful that it is worth recording. In the interests of fairness/niceness/cowardice/me ever getting another gig again, the gig and all involved will remain anonymous (sorry, rubberneckers).
But first, here’s a joke to kick off 2012...
What do you call a giraffe?
Necky! Geddit?! Cos of the neck? Oh fuck off then…
Gig No.10 - Comedy Virgins, The Cavendish Arms, Stockwell Monday 5th December 2011
Tried a form of comedy that I’m not 100% sure isn’t cheating - I read out a list of things I had found on the internet. People laughed though. That’s the whole point really, isn’t it? OR IS IT? Yes, it is. BUT IS IT? Yes. BUT. Stop shouting.
Gig No.11 - Freedom of the Fringe, The Torriano, Kentish Town Thursday 8th December 2011
Tried a form of comedy that whilst not being 100% sure isn’t cheating, I was now 73% sure it was ok anyway - I read out the same list of things I had found on the internet that I read out in my previous gig. People didn’t really laugh. Which isn’t the point, is it? NO. Fair enough. AHAHAAHAAAA.
I wonder if you all find these prose conversations I have with myself as tedious as I do?
(YES WE DO)
Ah. Fair enough.
Gig No.12 - ??????, ????????, ??????? ?????????? December 2011
Right, this is what you came for…
A total pigfish of a gig. That’s right, a pigfish. I wanted to call it a pigfuck but my spellcheck automatically changes it to pigfish, as if that’s anymore fucking sensible. Jesus.
There’s a thorny issue out there in that thar open mic world, and that is the issue of ‘bring-a-friend’. Some gigs insist you MUST bring someone with you or you’re not going on. Some gigs will scowl at you if you don’t, but let you on anyway. Some ask you nicely to but won’t get upset if you don’t. Some don’t ask you to bring anyone at all.
When I first started, I thought that the ‘bring-a-friend’ policy was the most reasonable thing. After all, a comedy gig needs an audience and, if we’re honest, who the hell else is going to come? However, once you factor in that the really keen comics will be doing a minimum of 5 gigs a week, it becomes untenable. Even your most devoted friend/lover/spouse is going to draw the line at once a week. Basically, you quickly run out of friends. It’s a tricky one.
However, there are drawbacks. Such as when you have 12 comedians and two genuine audience members. Like we did at this gig. Not the end of the world, you might think. Of course not. However, lob in the fact that most of the 12 comedians treated each other with a U.S. foreign policy-esque disdain and the fact that the MC didn’t so much as alienate the audience but construct an enormous perimeter fence around them with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ slapped across the iron gates, and you get a perfect storm. A pigfish, if you will.
What the gig needed was a warm, charismatic MC who helped everyone overcome the tiny audience, odd atmosphere and have a good gig regardless. What we got was very, very different.
The MC, oh oh oh the MC. He opened the night by saying (unironically) 'right, let's just get through this then' and then proceeded to tell a string of jokes about how fat he was and how small his cock is (I am making this material sound a lot better than it was, most of his jokes consisted of him saying 'I'm so fat I can't see my cock but then again that's cos my cock is so small!').
Despite his best efforts he got no laughs but he did get general goodwill from a small, just about friendly, audience and a few polite titters. This wasn't enough for our fella, who grew visibly unhappy and kept saying things like 'WOW, you guys don't like jokes, huh?' after yet another of his fat man/small cock gags sank like the fucking Lusitania.
He kept this up for OVER TWENTY MINUTES and only stopped because the first act pleaded 'can I come on, I've got to get to another gig'. Despite all this, after three acts the audience were doing their best in very trying circumstances. The acts had battled, almost triumphed and the atmosphere was still positive. However, MC Fatsmallcock decided we hadn't laughed enough so marched onstage to berate us. 'You've had 15 minutes of comedy and I've heard half a laugh, once'. Not true, old boy, but good shitting luck getting a laugh out of anyone now.
But worse than any of this was his relationship with two blokes who had come to support one of the acts. Very early on he decided that these guys were the reason the gig was bombing and constantly harassed them for it. Not in a funny way, not in a fun way, not in an interesting way. In a genuinely upset way. Lines he used on these two poor blokes included 'Ah you guys are sucking life out of this room' (they weren't), 'Do you guys need laughing lessons, or something?' (they didn't) and 'Ahh, there's no point even trying to talk to you' (there was).
None of these were delivered with anything approaching irony or good humour. Worst of all, at one point he broke off and told them off for talking… 'ah no no, let's hear what you've got to say, you clearly don't find anything funny onstage so maybe what you're saying is funnier, let's hear it. Come on. No?'. It couldn’t have been more awkward if… well, it couldn’t have been more awkward really.
HOWBLOODYEVER, all needn’t have been lost. We comedians could rally together. Support each other. Make it a worthwhile gig. Sod him. Sod the lack of audience. We’re all in this together, we’re standing shoulder to shoulder, we’re fighting them on the beaches, raus raus!
Sadly, the other performers treated the whole night as a major inconvenience. One refused to clap at any point. Two left at the break. Another lay down on a sofa and stared at the ceiling the whole time (apart from during his set when he expected the rest of us to be attentive and alert to his shit mumblings).
It’s worth noting that, out of all the comics that night, I failed in the biggest way onstage. However, I was a FUCKING GREAT audience member.
Am I trying to make a point here? Oh yeah - MCs, be nice, for Christ’s sake. Or be funny. Start with being nice and positive, then work towards funny. The audience, both acts and non-acts, need to feel like the whole evening is worthwhile. The MC is the rhythm section of an open mic gig. If you’re out of time, it doesn’t matter how tuneful the rest of us are, the whole shebang will suck harder than Natasha Giggs at a family barbecue.
And, dear other comedians, do as you would be done by. That’s all.
Happy 2012. HAHAHAHAAA.