Its bad enough that I had a casting yesterday that was the opposite of fun – having to try out opposite a man who it appeared had never heard of the concept of acting, let along reading or learning lines or in fact operating on any kind of normal human level. Like a large bearded bulk of a man he shouted his lines at me which he repeatedly got wrong, despite there only being two of them, stealing my lines and consequently making me get mine wrong. At one point he slapped his own head like a demented ogre repeating ‘let’s start again, let’s start again, that’s all wrong’ even though it was the only time he got it right. I exhasperatedly churned out my lines where I could constantly wondering what the point of all this is as they are clearly not going to cast someone who’s lines become stomped over by Sloth from The Goonies. I’m not sure how castings work. Sometimes I’m seen alongside well trained actors or other comics who know what they are doing, and other times I seem to be stuck with someone that for all intents and purposes are being used to wind participants up for a hidden camera show. But yes, it was bad enough that that happened in one day, but the evenings events were a proper indicator of why the job of dancing comedy monkey for the public is less fun than most think.
I’m typing this from my lonely hotel room in Cardiff, which couldn’t be painted in more bleak colours if it was being used for a French mood film. I have decided to firmly wallow in its loneliness by sticking the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, sticking myself to the tiny wobbly desk in the room and choosing to spend today writing while listening to angry 90’s hip hop. It feels right as I’m doing the same show again tonight and it feels like I need to build up some sort of aggression and need to interact through social depravity in order to survive. Last night’s show included a 50th birthday party of mental dancing women, a table of army lads, two stag dos and a 30th birthday party. Starting off ok, it transpired the army men were actually lovely and were there because 4 of their troop had been made redundant through cuts and they just wanted a good night. The 50th birthday party seemed ok, and if it wasn’t for a grumpy man who worked at the railway, I’d have walked off that stage feeling all happy with things, despite the glaring shiny lights and the knowledge that if I tried any jokes that had long words in, it’d confuse them.
The first half passed by without issue, and all the acts hit the backstage area for the 20 minute break. I’m not sure what happened during this time, but I blame it on the excess drink and the blaring party music that caused all the army men to dance like goons and the 50th birthday women to shake so hard I thought some were having seizures. On my return to the stage it was a bit like seeing the fallout after a war. Shouting, aggression, somebody who wouldn’t stop saying ‘Timmy!’ – a general idiot explosion. I hit the stage and tried my best to curb this but to no real avail. They didn’t care who I spoke to or what jokes I said, they were talking over me, so it didn’t matter. Just as I gained some control I noticed some twat finishing the punchlines to my diabetic bit. I presumed maybe he was diabetic too and that’s how he knew, so I asked him. Turns out ‘I was in Northampton last week when you gigged there and you were shit then as well.’ I responded by telling him that I was flattered that he wants to come see me so often but if he turns up to another gig I’ll call the police and he quietened down. Inside though, I was really fucked off.
There were many reasons for my agitation. 1) The gig in Northampton was brilliant. Its a big old room, and myself, Tom Binns as Ivan Brackenbury and Phil Nichol has amazing gigs. So amazing that audience members wanted to buy us drinks after the show and a very pretty girl asked me out while I was onstage. Total win all round. Let’s hand out the high fives in the bucketload and all do the Austrian goat dance of joy. Yes? So how this man didn’t enjoy it, I’m not sure, but he was in the minority. I didn’t remember his face so can’t imagine I picked on him, I think he was just an angry arsehole. Reason 2) does he have no idea how finishing my punchlines ruins it for everyone else in the room? Does he have no idea how horrible it is gigging to a bunch of completely wasted people who’ve been hyped up by party music in the interim? Its not stand-up comedy, it becomes nothing more than crowd control. Its the equivalent of someone coming to your workplace and deleting your excel spreadsheet just as you add the final formula and calculation for your pie chart. It doesn’t help adding to this mayhem, it never will help and all it ever does is keep me dreaming of the day I can stop doing these well paid but overly depressing shows in order to make a living.
It wasn’t a bad show, it just did nothing for me. I know I’m the entertainer, but I relish in that adrenalin kick you get after a gig that keeps me awake till the early hours. It doesn’t have to be an incredible gig for that to happen, just one that’s fun enough. They say its not work if you enjoy it, but last night was work and I stomped home with some BK fries and a feeling that I just wanted to get into my French mood bed. Another round of the same thing tonight and if it starts again I’m considering standing onstage slapping my own forehead shouting ‘let’s start again, let’s start again, it’s all wrong’ until the crowd resets until normal human rather than bestial levels or at least just leaves.