Standing-Up: The Documentary (4)

Last night at The Torriano pub in Kentish Town was hell – although Frank didn’t seem too fazed about it. After the performance, I told him I’d felt like giving up again, but he gave me that Derbyshire chuckle and told me to ‘cheer up, lad’. I think I might even be winning his respect. He’s now seen how hard it can be, and how brave or mad (or both) I am. It’s tough, believe me. Try turning up at a packed North London pub where you know no-one at all, and stand with a microphone for 7 minutes trying to make people laugh. Then when they don’t really laugh … well, you just want to die. But Frank says it’s all ‘good practise’. He says we have to do the Edinburgh Fringe and then aim for the very top … so this journey is far from over, especially as his film crew will be following us all the way.

I tried to tell him that last night’s experience was how it felt when I’d also bombed in New York and Barcelona, but I’m not sure if he was listening. He was busy talking to some of the other acts who’d been on after me, the guys who’d called him ‘Compo’ from ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. They’d even referred to him as Compo during their acts – which made him even more convinced that we need to work on my own ‘persona’. He says I don’t have a problem with my stage presence, nor some of the material, and nor its delivery – but we do need to refine or even invent the persona

So, Frank’s been with me for 3 of these ‘gigs’ now – Barcelona last Saturday, the Library club in London on Tuesday, and yesterday’s Torriano. Last night was only my 13th time – which includes my very first attempt at stand-up for the show we put on after Logan Murray’s weekend workshop. I have blogged about that below – and in order to catch up to date with the present, I still wanted to scroll back through my diaries to recount how we got to where we are today. So bear with me.

As I have written below, ‘the date for my heat [for the Barcelona International Comedy Festival competition] was set for the night of Thursday 11th October, at Carders Pub in Barcelona – but I was working in Madrid during that day – and then due to fly off to New York on the Saturday morning for a week of meetings with my day-job’

I remember feeling pretty stupid in Madrid, sitting at a business lunch, knowing that my Vueling flight would get me back only just in time to then rush across to Carders Pub in the Gothic barrio of Barcelona that night, and what the hell was I really letting myself in for? I arrived late, stood at the back of the pub and at the far end of the long bar, as far away from the little stage as possible, deciding to watch the other acts on before me from a distance. I’d been put on second from last, after the interval, which only served to give me more time to get nervous and unhinged – and drink too many glasses of red. But as I’d stood at the bar, I noticed other customers alongside me still disrespectfully chatting to one another whilst some of the other acts were trying to perform – and I thought if I could project my voice from the stage to make them shut up when it was my turn, then at least it would make me feel better. And it did. When I finally had to do my spiel, I kept looking out towards the back of the bar – to exactly where I’d been standing earlier – and I could see that I had their attention. In fact I had them in the palm of my hand for a few minutes. They were all watching, listening, and they were laughing – and it felt great. Afterwards, I headed back to the bar as quickly as I could. A few people, total strangers, congratulated and patted me. It was odd. I needed more wine. There was a lot of noise in the end and I didn’t hear the judges announcing the result. But someone at the bar told me I was through to the final. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I would be in New York all week and had no idea when the final even was … (to be continued)

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