Another Fringe Monday
All I heard on the street today were statements about pickings being thin, not enough people about or I may have to pull the show, etc, etc.
A lot of performers don’t just do the middle Monday of the Fringe. Many of them don’t do any Mondays at all!
And so it was today!
The streets were clearly a lot quieter after the weekend and this makes it more difficult to pull in any sort of decent sized audience but, being a deluded optimistic type, I set about luring in as many unsuspecting passers-by as possible.
I managed to get the room half-filled and this makes it playable, however the added bonus is that a smaller audience means there’s a lot less pressure and, I thought, I might as well just have some fun!
Comedy is not work! In the sense that it’s not a forced, physical endeavour.
To try too hard on a comedy stage is to put yourself under undue stress and pressure and when that happens, you run the risk of blowing the gig.
Comedy like any artistic performance should be done in a relaxed and enjoyable way, your voice should be clear and not strained and your body should be supple.
If you’re stressed and tense it puts a barrier between you and your audience and they pick up on it!
Tonight’s show was great!
And that’s because I didn’t bother too much about the effect I was trying to supplant onto the audience and I didn’t try to seek their validation either.
I just let go and did my thing!
If only they could all be like that!
A Need to Perform
Believe it or not, I do stand-up comedy to overcome my shyness!
I have always been shy and have always needed validation, I suppose it comes from my childhood.
As long as I can remember I have always wanted to perform, whether dreaming of being in a band singing or playing guitar or acting, I have always had an overpowering need to garner surrogate love from any source possible.
I have also been skint all of my life as well, so the motivation comes from many places.
What a poor, sad, sack!
I have played the guitar badly since the age of eighteen and whilst at University me and my pal, John “Stringsnapper” McGhee, did a bit of gigging and busking.
John got that nickname because he had the curious habit of always breaking strings on his guitar, every single time we played together.
One day, owing to a serious shortage of drink vouchers, John and I decided we would go out busking and forever the entrepreneur, looking for an angle, I decided we would go out dressed as The Blues Brothers.
The year was 1990!
I was a fat guy, John was a thin guy, I used the suit I had recently been married in and John stole his old man’s dinner suit. We borrowed hats and sunglasses from a neighbour of mine, the white shirts were our own and John’s brother was a copper, ergo a thieving bastard, so he nicked us a couple of black ties belonging to Strathclyde’s finest.
And here we are! We looked fuckin great and so, out we went.
And, It was a master stroke!
We went into town, with our guitars, and made about forty quid in the space of ninety minutes, then, having a natural aversion to hard graft (John’s a teacher, it’s sort of like a comedian but with more holidays and a good pension) we headed home to drink our earnings.
As we walked back up the Gallowgate however, a guy who ran one of the pubs, spotted us and invited us over for a drink.
We gratefully accepted his kind invitation and we got a free drink.
We also played a couple on numbers (we only knew two songs and one was an instrumental), put the hat round, made another ten quid then, made our excuses and left.
It was whilst we were in the pub drinking, however, that fate played a hand.
I was chatting to the owner and started bullshitting him big time. I told him that “Me and John were experienced musicians and were looking to work this street, Man!”
The owner, who was a fearsome East End gangster, said “Nae Bother, come doon and play here next Saturday and I’ll pay you Eighty Quid!”
Now the rational me, should have politely declined, but rationality was not to enter my being for at least another 20 years, and Eighty Quid to two pisshead students, was a fortune in those bygone days.
To put this into perspective a pint of Becks in the Student Union was only 50p at the time.
The only thing standing between us and that eighty quid was no suitable equipment at all and a distinct lack of musical talent. But eighty quid is a powerful motivator, it was our first real gig, fuck me by this time next year we will be playing stadiums Johnny Boy!
John was dubious, but we sold some old camera equipment and John extended his overdraft and we practiced like fuck all week!
The day came, we were scheduled to do two sets of 2 hours 30 mins each for the money. The first set was from 2.30pm till 5pm and then again from 8.30pm till 11pm.
We were standing there dressed as Jake and Elwood and just went for it with all guns blazing!
The first song was Jumping Jack Flash and it was too loud. Far too loud and shite as well, and they all jumped to their feet and fucked off in a flash! We cleared the pub with our first number!
We composed ourselves, turned the volume down and all the punters came back in but, we were terrible. John snapped some strings, it must have been a nervous thing, and that was the longest two and a half hours of our lives. The punters were shouting and heckling and abusing us. Telling us we were shite and the worst fuckin band they ever saw and we were too inexperienced to simply stop and fuck off! We just stood there and took a barrage of of unbelievable abuse!
At 5pm we stopped playing.
The final song we sang was Sailing by Rod Stewart and I remember being so nervous that instead of singing: “I am Flying” at the start of the second verse, I sang “I am frying”. Talk about a Freudian slip!
We had completely and spectacularly died on our arses. It was painful! It was humiliating! It was excruciating!
I remember saying; “Ladies and Gentlemen thankyou and good afternoon we will be back at 8.30″ at that, everybody in the boozer fell about and pissed themselves laughing!
The Owner was livid, he stood behind the bar with a look that said “How am I going to dispose of these two cunts’ bodies?”
We made eye contact and he beckoned me over saying: “Big Man! C’mere”
I walked over to the bar with a feeling of impending doom!
As I got there he, leaned across the bar, handed me some money and said: “There’s forty quid! See, if I ever see you in here again you won’t be fuckin seen again! Do you understand me? Now get yer pal, get yer gear the-gither and get tae fuck oot ma pub!”
It was chilling! I nearly shat myself!
But, Fuck it! Forty quid is forty quid! Me and John went and got pished, Up in the safety of the student union, I still get flashbacks in the Gallowgate to this day.
The following Monday I passed the pub on the bus, on my way into town, and there was a big blackboard outside with writing on it, that said: “WANTED – GOOD BANDS!”