Friday, 13 August 2010

My first free fringe gig

The meadow bar

Ok so my open mic thing has been going ok but its more than time to step it up a notch

I was emailing all the places I could think of to get a spot after the fringe was all over and I got a reply from laughing horse comedy . a fairly big name in the five pound fringe world saying that they would be happy to give me a slot actually in one of their free fringe gigs which was nice. I had to ditch my mark Watson tickets for the night as the times clashed but I managed to get other for later that month and a fringe gig was at least something I could put down on my comedy cv .also as it was the first night I was going to be at the fringe anyway . so off I set for Edinburgh again to see a show and then be the show.

The first fringe show this year was Patrick Monahan a comedian me and the other half had seen in the Glasgow stand.... now.. when we go to the stand we usually sit in the front row .. this is because Helen very rarely gets picked on and its usually me. This night was no exception.

Patrick decided that we had come to the wrong gig , that we must have thought there was some heavy metal night on and in the spirit of that occasion took it upon himself to crowd surf over my and three other people’s heads (breaking my chair in the process) in order to make us feel at home. It was a great night , he ,as always over ran and to my knowledge never told an actual joke through the whole night . he was just disturbingly funny. Once his show was over we had a quick chat and then tried to leave before the venue realised we had killed one of their chairs (seriously one leg buckled under our combines weight) .

The night of the fringe we once again sat in the front row. Now it’s not that I’m a gluten for punishment or that I’m some sort of show off but the front row is always the most fun.

So pat walks out onto the stage and WHAM I’m being picked on, he drags me up onto the stage and decides he wants to run a race against me and another man from the audience he picked on a kiwi (not the bird) hockey player and sent us up to the balcony surrounding the stage to begin the race .. now my brain does think in a weird way and since I started the comedy thing it’s been getting worse but here I was with another bloke looking down on pat like I was one of statler and waldorf from the Muppets.... you don’t know who they are do you.... ok here’s a picture

I suggested we heckle like they did in the show but ...blane...breen..spleen or whatever kiwi mans names was(it was certainly something like that) , was having none of it.. oh well it would have been a good joke.

waldorf and statler

Still we did run the race from the balcony to the stage and it went ok ( I WON, I WON, NAARRHHHHHHH!!!), I was of course as gracious as ever (ME! IT WAS ME WHO WON!...MMEEEEEE! THE FAT BIKER AGAINST THE FIT HOCKEY PLAYER.... PANSIE!!) . so back to my seat I went.. and pat continued his show everything from killer geese to Iranian dancing and hard man walks.

Pats shows are great and if you haven’t seen him you should. (that is all).

patrick and me! i was in the middle of talking so i look like seriel killer!

After the show I stuck around to say hi to pat and chatted about the Glasgow chair breaking I told him I had to go as I was going to be doing a set of my own. He said he was going to come along but when I told him the time he was in another show (likely story!). so I went off to the meadow bar to do my set in there upstairs sauna . last time I was in a room that small with lots of half naked sweaty people.. you don’t need to know this! I think I was third on , I sat and waited and while I was waiting I had a realisation that I had spent more time on stage with pat than I was going to get on my own set. Maybe next year ill be getting longer .who knows . anyway I got up to do my set and I enjoyed it but there was that niggle again in the back of my head saying “change’s not working...” I got a few good solid laughs and a few good solid groans but my act still feels rushed and like I’m some sort of drama student trying to blurt out the next line . after the gig ended a guy rushed up to ask me to pay a donation for the gig , I raised an eyebrow and was about to reply when I was saved by the compere who said” he was one of the acts”.

Glad I’m so memorable.

ahhhhh the glamour!

The banshee

Do you know how hard it is to get onto the open mic circuit? .... shouldn’t the idea be the mic is open? As in wait for it... open mic? But NOOOOO ,

“do you sing?”

No I don’t

“do you play an instrument?”


“do you have a small and insignificant appendage?”

Sorry what?

So yeah it should be easy but most don’t want comedians .. so I searched and searched ..I found gay bars.. singing contests and that pen id lost behind the cooker but no open mic slots for me.

I began sending off emails to any one that might even slightly be able to help. I got a few nice replies and somewhere not so nice but one of the nice ones was Terri Krueger (that’s not a joke) at the banshee labyrinth , she was nice , she was helpful and she was quite willing to give me a spot.. so off I trotted over to Eden burger (Edinburgh to you) and I walked in to the banshee for the first time.. surprisingly it’s a nice little venue with a maybe 25 seat theatre down in the catacombs of the city. I was up first and so got up and did a 10 min set , I added some new stuff and enjoyed it but I’m starting to think that at least some of it needs to go , I’m not sure why but I’m finding it too rehearsed ok this is a good thing and a bad thing but I genuinely think that there is at least 10 mins of material in my 5 min set and I rush it to try and get as many jokes in as possible . I think my set worked fine for my stand up course but not so good in real life.

my publicity flyer
Anyway after my gig I was asked to compare the next week as Terri was away on holiday. Seemed like a bit of fun so I said yes, I wrote the material I rehearsed it in my head and set off the next week to do my first compeering night, I got there and it was dead... totally dead we had a mind reader, a magician, an acrobat and 3 musicians on the bill . so the time came for me to start the gig and the building was empty.. totally. Not a sign of anyone.. the acrobats and two of the musicians hadn’t even shown up. My rehearsed and almost well written show went out the window and I ended up just talking to the 4 people in the room who hadn’t come with one of the acts.

I even ended up doing my 10 min set again just to fill in time.

The night wasn’t a disaster my bit went ok and some of the acts where good but I went home feeling that it had been a giant waste of my time especially as I had to travel 100 miles to do it. Oh well live and learn eh?

A week later I spoke to Terri and she informed me that as she was away no-one had bothered to do any kind of advertising and so no-one knew it was even on....bugger!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

back to school


So I enrolled at one of my local colleges for an introduction to stand up comedy. I kid you not, there is such a class...who knew!

The class was taught by Charlie Ross, a very funny local Glasgow comedian who has a bizarre dalek fetish. Nuff said.

The class was a lot of fun, and taught me a few things that hadn’t even occurred to me. It was only about 10 weeks long, and at the end of it was my very first gig in the basement of a bar (Maggie Mays) The timing was great, as it took place right in the middle of the Glasgow comedy festival. Most of the people on the course with me seem to have disappeared, so I assume they didn’t continue to try after their first gig. Oh well, just me then.

But the class was an odd experience. We started off with about 20 people, and ended with 7 - a high attrition rate. It seemed that a lot of the people in the class thought comedy was going to be easy; one even said he was ready to do his first DVD I said, disappeared without a trace. One of the people also seemed, for some reason, to think that their routine was going to be written for them, like it was some sort of stand up experience ride at a shitty theme park!

The class was interesting in many ways, but excruciating in others. Some people do not only think they are funny when they are clearly not, but also some people think they are geniuses when they are in fact morons. Let me explain. The way I see it is that most of the people who are funny in the pub will not be funny on the stage. If you think that a joke begins with something along the lines of "a black guy, a Jew and a Irishman" then trust me, shoot’s all for the best in the end. One guy’s set was a joke based entirely around the fact that his wife was a slut. We hadn’t met her, but we all still knew that was probably the case. And then there was the "intellectual" type who kept saying things like "When I played the comedy club" or "when I was on stage with *insertnamehere*" over and over, but as soon as you questioned him on any of this he found an excuse to not talk about it. We in the class had a special pet name for him - we called him the egotistical bulls**ter (seemed appropriate).

I won’t bore you with the details and I won’t pick on anyone on this blog as, well, I’m a gentleman - but I will say that of the 7 who finished the course most, including me, were at least OK!

Every week more and more people went missing from the class. I battled through snow to get to the class, and moved house in the middle of it, and still attended - such was my dedication - but some just couldn’t be bothered once they realised it was actually hard work.

After the third week, we were encouraged to write our own 5 minute set, and almost everyone did just that (except DVD boy, who assumed he was just organically funny). Then every week we ended up performing and refining the idea until we had something that Charlie thought would work. This was a great experience, but didn’t really work. You see, it’s quite soul destroying to do the same set week after week to the same people who have heard it soooo many times that they all stopped laughing weeks ago. So, by the time the night of my first gig arrived, I was utterly convinced that I was about to witness my total and abject failure. I was fourth on, so sat in the “green room” (so called because of the mould that grew on the sofa I assume) and waited with - to my surprise - no nerves what so ever.

The gig started with local comedian Scott Agnew doing the compering, and doing a great job as always. Everyone was relaxed and enjoying the evening. Someone was talking during his introduction...“So, please don’t talk during the show…” Scott hinted. Someone was still talking “…or I will have to chuck you out” he added subtly...still talking…


He was right to do it; it was necessary. Guess whose friend she was?? DVD BOY! Suddenly it all becomes clear.

It did however change the mood of the room a fair bit.

First up was a very posh young lad with an accent that made the queen look common. He stood up and started his set. All was well until someone in the sound booth managed to play my intro music over the top of him, but to his credit he dug down into his Britishness and kept calm and carried on. His set was over in what seemed like seconds. Next up was a little old lady whose attitude was great - she said, I might as well try this, I could be dead in a minute (nice one!). Her set was based around being as common as muck, which was a nice counterpoint to the previous guy. After her, a young girl who did a character act playing a very ditzy bimbo (oh jeeez, I hope it was an act). Then it was me.

My music came on and Scott introduced me. I heard my name being spoken over the PA system for the first time and walked with more than my fair share of confidence onto the stage. I squinted for a moment at what I could see of the audience and started my set. I say squinted - it would be more appropriate to say I walked on stage and was blinded as a green light scorched my retinas to dust! I started talking and like some sort of verbal diarrhoea my full set came tumbling out. I was told later that people laughed, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Seriously, it was like I was deaf - I couldn’t hear myself...I couldn’t hear them...all I could hear was my heartbeat and a voice in my head that was calmly and serenely suggesting:


I strode about the tiny stage with more of that faked confidence and suddenly I realised I was nearly at the end of my set. I had even managed to ad-lib a few bits with the crowd as they groaned at one of my more groan-worthy jokes. It was almost done...I finished my final punch line...silence...oh shit...I did say that bit, didn’t I? I thought to myself. ”Oh come on, it was worth at least a little bit of a laugh”, I tried to joke as my hearing, sight and soul re-entered my body just in time for me to die on stage!! They laughed, I said good night,.they clapped. I walked off stage totally forgetting to shake Scott’s hand (sorry Scott, I left you hanging…very embarrassing). Someone in the crowd genuinely slapped me on the bum as I walked past them to get back to the “green room area”, so it must have been at least ok. I sat down on the mouldy sofa and my legs went numb. My heart, which I assume had stopped at some point during my gig, started hammering in my chest my hands went sweaty, I became dizzy and if I’m totally honest with you I very nearly fainted. Why this happened I’m not so sure.

Charlie walked up to me as the next act was introduced onto the stage. “You know why you didn’t get a laugh on the last punch line?” he said, smiling. “No...what did I do?” I asked “You moved away from the heard you”. Sh*t!

The interval was up next so I had a chance to go and talk to my girlfriend and our friends who had turned up to support me. Everyone was more than polite, people wanted to shake my hand and talk to me about what I’d said and how I did. It was very strange - I tried to enjoy it but it was very, very freaky!

After the interval one of the acts dropped out (what a waste, all that way to bottle it at the last minute), so next up was another young girl who did an act and referenced one of my gags while doing it (ggrrrrrrrr), but she was at least funny. Then it was DVD boy. In all honesty there was no love lost between the 5 of us and him. He was loud, obnoxious and so unbelievably not funny. He had disappeared for the first half of the gig and when he did walk on he walked onto the stage like he owned it, and tried to start his set. I assume his mind went blank as he suddenly started to babble and waffle in an almost incomprehensible way. Nothing he had actually rehearsed came out, just random words that may or may not have linked in some way in his head. Then he snapped out of it and we all started to miss his babbling, as his main jokes seemed to revolve around sex and beating up a homeless man. A small group in the crowd whooped with laughter (his mates) but for the most part he got very little from anyone else - right up until the point that he managed to pop the jack plug out of the mic and it went nice and quiet. Turned out DVD boy had gone off to get stoned before his gig and was busy drinking all the way through. Hoh hum.

Baptisms eh!

Monday, 9 August 2010

a long time ago in a wait


I’m Adam, and welcome to my first ever blog. I’ve never blogged before and the reasons for that are…well...they aren’t numerous and are in fact - one fold. I’ve never had anything interesting to say. Let’s hope this changes.

So why am I starting now? Well, I’ve begun a strange journey. I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my own, not really. I have in fact begun to dip my undersized toes into the murky (or more swampy, really) world of stand up comedy.

It’s true, I have spent many, many years watching comedy, everything from Mike Harding to Freddie Starr to Eddie Izzard to Ben Elton and pretty much everything in between. I wasn’t really very picky - if it made me laugh that was all I really wanted from these people.

I’ll get this out of the way straight away. I was never the class clown - in fact, if anything, I was the class loser. I was moved from school to school and never really got a chance to fit in anywhere, and so retreated into a world of made up stories and heroic deeds ( I’m writing a book too...well two, actually). While at my last school in Wales, and then again later at art college, I met up with a load of lesbian types. I really did mean to write thespian types there, but as both statements are true, I’ll leave them both in (hiya, Lupin and Shelly...are you both accountants now or something...radical rug munchers that you are...every college has them). Anyway, I digress. A few of them are famous now. It’s true. I won’t name drop, but "if you can hear this, you are the resistance" should give you a clue to one of them.

So, I’ve always been around arty people, you know, pillocks. Hemp-wearing, seal-hugging, tree-masturbating pillocks. And disturbingly, I discovered I was one of them. It sort of crept up on me, like a printing deadline or…erm…syphilis. But I’m so used to not fitting in it didn’t really matter to me. I did the whole Goth thing and then got into building bikes and cars and now my way of life has sort of settled on being an arty, engineering, biker type with comedic tendencies. There don’t seem to be many of us out there.

So why now? What spurred me on to give this thing a go? Well, I moved to Glasgow to live with my lovely girlfriend and for those of you who don’t know, Scotland has one of the best comedy scenes in the world. Not only do we have the Glasgow comedy festival, which is small but perfectly formed, but we also have the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is three weeks of nonstop comedy, dance, drama and the like. With spurring from my comedy loving lassy, we’ve ended up going to the Fringe every year I’ve lived up here, which is a loooooooonnnnngggg time. And now I’ve seen, actually seen, some of the best comedians in the world - not DVDs of the comedians that the TV companies think you should see, but the one who are actually good! And I’ve had the honour of meeting and chatting with lots of them and now in some cases I’m able to count some of them as my friends (you know who you are, and I will continue to stalk you no matter what the courts say).

So I’ve been toying idly with the idea of giving it a go for maybe the last four years or so, but like all men I needed a kick up the arse to get me started. That kick came in the form of a chance encounter with a monopedic comedy hero of mine. Somewhere about this blog is probably a picture of me so if you’ve looked you’ll know that I sort of stick out in a crowd. I will explain what I mean in the following comedic equation:

looking like me + front row + comedian = let’s pick on the hippie

I get picked on at more or less every show I ever go to, and I don’t care. I never really enjoyed it, but accepted it as part and parcel of being me (heavy is the burden of being me).

So lots of you I’m sure know of Adam Hills. He is an Australian comedy god, a genius and a disturbingly nice man. I won’t tell you the details of what happened but I was dragged up on stage by Adam (the other one - confused??) at a small comedy venue in Edinburgh. I ended up telling a very long, involved and frankly disgusting story that, for a while, he continued to use as part of his show. The trouble was, that the story is totally made up off the top of my head. As sick as it was, it was also quite funny and got a lot of laughs. I, to my shame, lied to Adam, told him it was all true and like a total sucke…the honest man he is, he took my deranged ravings on face value. I didn’t know he was going to use it in his show (royalties?????) and I didn’t have the guts to tell him. It came down to another comedy god to tell him for me, you know in that way that you used to say “my friend fancies your friend”? Same thing. I was sitting after a show with (brace for name drop) Tim Minchin and regaled him with the story. Tim, to his credit, smiled but didn’t laugh at my inner sickness, and I expected to hear no more about it now that I had got it off my chest.

Fast forward six months or so to the Fringe and the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh - a huge, must be 800-seater venue that Adam Hills was packing out night after night. There I sat in the front row, with a small amount of dread in the pit of my stomach, as the man himself walked on. Everything went well until he spotted me and shouted "Adam! If that is your REAL name"...oh bum! Tim, being the man of honour I’m certainly not, had told Adam - Adam was not best pleased - and Adam (me now) was going to be destroyed on stage in front of 800 people. I say again...BUM! For some reason I still don’t understand, Adam Hills played along and I retold my whole sick and twisted story again to laughs and gagging and vomiting. I spoke to Adam after the show and we went our separate ways.

Here the story should end but, you see, because for all his love, all his skill, and all his genius, it seems deep down somewhere in his soul Adam Hills is a right C**T.

Fast forward again a few months. Adam is in Glasgow playing a venue called the Garage. Me and my other half go along to see the show. A quick reminder:

looking like me + front row + comedian = lets pick on the hippie

Once again I get dragged out of the audience and I tell my tale (as best as I could remember it - at this point, Adam knew it better than me as he had performed it all over the world). On conclusion of my story, to more laughs and more ga-vomiting (gagging and vomiting simultaneously), he said "And of course this is all true, isn’t it?" The jig was up. "No. I made it all up," I said, like a child caught lying to his teacher. He sends me back to my seat and slaps me with this line as I leave the stage: "We’ll be getting Adam back up on stage at the end of the show for SOMETHING SPECIAL". We’re way past the word BUM! now. We are in the region of HOLY RUSTED HOBBIT ROCKETS!!

I’m pretty sure his show was great. I can’t remember because I was having a f***ing embolism with the fear!

The time came...the lights heart stopped...

I climbed back up onto the stage to accept my punishment. Adam started talking...Adam (me again) began to cry (on the inside - I’m not special). The music came on (Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You" from the Bodyguard). This is it. I’m about to be publicly humiliated. Adam gathers me up into his arms (this has all got a bit homoerotic, hasn’t it?) and carries me off stage and up a flight of stairs, re-enacting the end of the aforementioned tedious film. Thankfully, no pictures exist of the events. There were camera phones everywhere and I saw what seemed like a hundred flashes go off, but there are NO pictures. Stop looking for them because there aren’t any. THERE ARE NO PICTURES, OK????

So thank you Adam. My love of comedy was brought to a head at that point and I just knew I had to try. I had to give it a go. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could laugh at me, which is kinda the point.

not even slightly homoerotic