11 AM Saturday 24 March 2012 Newcastle
This blog hasn’t been much of a diary. When I’m successful it seems like I’m bragging. When I fail it sounds worse. This going to one of the worse ones.
Last night in Morpeth, Northumberland – in the non-Geordie northeast – I failed miserably. Failed miserably. As if you can fail “wonderfully”. Or fail “joyfully”. All failure is miserable.
My buddy John Smith of Grinning Idiot organized the gig in the Queen’s Head.
I wasn’t psychologically prepared. I never am for gigs but I was really not right on this night.
John left me up in Morpeth all alone and ran to MC another gig. I’ve done my Free until Famous Tour shows at least 15 times now but never, ever, have I done one with no support in the venue. Even the bar staff were in the next room.
I was coming back to do another show at The Queens Head. I did a show there a year ago and it was amazing. I got the most money ever, per head, as I’ve gotten anywhere. I collect money after the show so I know when shows go well and when they don’t. When I am funny, people give me money.
Last night I was panicking that chaos would reign at The Queens Head because I was alone. The audience grew and grew and I was running around putting out extra chairs, the punters didn’t seem especially pleased to see me, and they were sitting wherever they wanted to sit, and huge groups were arriving and I had slept only three hours the night before and I didn’t feel funny at all and well, you know I could list more reasons why I thought the night was going to hell.
In all of this I completely overlooked the fact that upwards of 80 people had made an effort to come and have a laugh with me. Me, who is off the telly – that is: I am not on the telly and not famous.
Anyway, fasten your seatbelt for disaster, Lewis Schaffer-style.
Silky, the comic promoter, who I ran into after the gig at the Newcastle Stand comedy club, told me that he’d never see me enjoy myself on stage. Granted, he said, he hadn’t seen me ten years.
Last night, I wasn’t happy on stage. I know I am supposed to be happy on stage, and if not, then appear happy on stage. “Effortlessly funny” is what the comic is supposed to be, like Michael McIntyre or Frankie Boyle or Seinfeld.
Well. I don’t want to pretend to be happy.
If I have to pretend to be happy and enjoying myself on stage I would rather go back and work for Harvey Grotsky at Hotel and Resort Industry Magazine. I would rather drive a friggin’ truck.
I think there is a chance I am the best comic in Britain (using other methods for judging other than the old method of how much laughter the comic gets). There is something honest and amazing that happens at my shows. The shows are more like theatre where there is a dramatic arc – or so I have been told. It will start with discomfort and end with a satisfying resolution. Or the other way around. An individual joke has that. Why can’t an entire show? Well, that’s the idea.
Last night started out miserable. A quarter of the audience walked out halfway. At the end, it was something better than misery, at least for me and I hope for the audience that remained. I have had shows like last night which started out with me in a stroppy mood and it ended in complete and utter victory. Victory for me and the audience.
Morpeth last night wasn’t a victory. I counted the money in the bucket and the people that remained, as a group, didn’t hate me – at least not all of them. Some of them definitely did. And the 20 or so who left hated me.
But there is always a chance at my shows, and lately a very good chance, that it could have ended as “art”. Well, maybe not art but worth a few quid.
PS 20 members of the audience found me unbearable after 30 mins, John’s had me at his house for 2 days now, imagine how bad he feels. [This PS John wrote and I kept it in.]
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