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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stand-up

Yesterday for the first time I tried my hand at stand-up comedy. The Classic Comedy Club (CCC) on Queen Street has an open mike night on Mondays, after a lot of thinking I decided to have a go.

When I say a lot of thinking, I mean a lot. I first thought about trying to do a stand-up routine when I lived in Wellington, and I moved back to Auckland in late 1998. This means it was at least 10 years back, and I'm sure it was a year or two before that. In those days there were no Comedy Clubs in Wellington, and I suspect none in New Zealand.

I was inspired to actually put my hand up for the open mike night when work was looking for suitable venues for our Christmas function. The CCC was short-listed, and this got me motivated to actually do something about this long term interest. I had a thought about what I could do on the bus into work one morning & brain dumped it over lunch. I didn't have the requisite 7 minutes of material, but I had enough to tell me I could do 7 minutes. Tessa went down to CCC that night and checked it out. The place seemed friendly and supportive, and the other raw talent we saw were (mostly) competent, but not so good that I'd fear for the quality of my likely effort.

A couple of days later I phoned them up and booked myself in for yesterday. Tessa listened to several early drafts of my material, and we went down the following Monday to have another look. Last night, I was up. Tessa, Angela, and I went off to dinner together and then wandered up to the club early as I had to check in at least 1/2 an hour before the start. Two other workmates came along to wish me well, Dazz arrived while we were waiting and Robert arrived with Ruth, his wife, a little later.

I was the first up in the second half of the evening. I chose to sit with my friends for the first half of the show before going up to the green room during the intermission. In retrospect I think from a technical viewpoint I would have been better off being in the green room & talking to the other performers, but from an emotional viewpoint I needed to be with my support network in the audience because as the moment I would have to stand up infront of the audience got closer and closer I was getting more and more stressed.

A professional comedian from Kaitaia named Figjam was the MC for the evening and when he introduced me I walked onto the stage and began my act. To my surprise I got a good laugh from my opening ... surprise because, althought I knew I had some good material, I regarded the opening as fairly weak ... but it got a better laugh than some of what I thought was my better material later in the show.

Everything went pretty well until about 3/4 of the way through the sketch, when I lost the plot a bit. I knew I was losing it and quickly went to the end. I left to a good laugh and went outside to calm down before rejoining my party in the audience.

With it being my first time I had no expectation of it going perfectly. On the whole I think I managed to present my material better than I expected. One part of the sketch was a fairly complex sequence of witicisms that I kept re-ordering during practice. I'd re-ordered it so many times that I was hopelessly confused how to present it, so I wrote the order on my hand. On the video Tessa did, I was obviously having trouble reading it off my hand ... despite the way that I liked it, the sequence got no laughs so I might as well not have bothered. There were a couple of other bits that I really liked, but which I completely forgot to use on the stage.

The other thing that was obvious to me on stage was that I was having problems with the microphone. Right at the start I wandered away from the mike, completely forgetting that I needed to take it with me. In a couple of places I needed both hands free, so I put the mike back on the stand.

I'm going to go back in a few weeks and have another go with the same material. Before that I'm going to review the video, eliminate the bits that didn't work and reinstate the bits I forgot to use. I'm also going to freeze my script a few days out so I can just practice the final version. Maybe I'll still ad-lib on stage a little, but I need to have a rock solid sequence I can return to to avoid getting lost again.

I'm also going so see if I can source a cheap radio mike. It would make it so much easier to be able to both walk around and have both hands free. For the future, I already have an idea for two other completely different sequences and so if I do decide to keep at it I'm sure I can keep up a supply of fresh material for quite a while.