On Saturday I got on stage for my twentieth anniversary gig. It's been a long time coming - twenty years to be precise. Over the last two decades I've played all over the world, performed at music festivals, comedy clubs, corporate gigs, private parties, birthdays, weddings, raves (One very bizarre lunchtime) and even the World Nettle Eating Competition. I've done pubs, nightclubs, working mens clubs, village halls, theatres, arts centres, even a couple of peoples houses (And in fact my own). I've found myself in Marquees, boats, the back of a truck, TV studios, radio stations, universities, colleges and one or two public schools. I've worked with pretty much every comic over the last decade who has become famous in the UK with varying degrees of success, from Harry Hill to Peter Kay to Ross Noble. I've supported Jack Dee, Lee Evans, Graham Norton, Jack Whitehall and been on the same bill as Jimmy Carr, Johnny Vegas, Jo Brand, Chris Addison and a whole host of other great comics who may or may not have graced your living rooms on a Saturday night. So how on Earth could I commemorate this achievement? Simple - I completely forgot about it and went on in the middle at The Frog & Bucket comedy club in Manchester with very little fuss at all.
it wasn't really even very good if truth be known. The audience were largely made up of birthdays, stag parties and hen parties. The compere spent most of the night asking them to be quiet and not to talk while the acts were on. The first act had a bit of trouble with a heckler but dealt with him very well. After the break I went on and banged out my latest set, unveiling a song especially written for the gig in Manchester a few months back (that I only learnt about fifteen minutes before going on stage). I was very well received and had a group of girls come up to me afterwards telling me I was "hilarious", "lovely" and "amazing". Do you know what I remember though? The drunk bloke on the balcony who three minutes before I finished my set decided, for absolutely no reason at all, to shout "F*%k off - you're a t%*t". No-one in the lower area of the room (the majority) heard him. A few people on the balcony laughed. Most looked round at him like he was weird. I just ignored him. I heard him though and if I could have wrapped my guitar round his neck there and then, I would have done. I'd told the audience about half way through that it was my twentieth anniversary on stage and they applauded - not because I was incredible, or brilliant or astounding - but because I opened my heart to them and carried on regardless. They won't remember me but they might remember having a good time with me. That's all I've ever wanted really - for every audience I ever get on stage in front of to have a laugh with me. One bloke didn't though and sadly - it's always that one bloke that you remember.
The money wasn't even very good.
The night before I had played the same venue and done OK before heading back to my mate Rick's as he had very kindly said I could stay over. Sat in his lounge after a long drive and a long night, I settled back to chat with him and his lovely girlfriend, Francesca. They'd been at the show, as had fellow buddy BJ (who I gave a lift home to). It's funny, but knowing they were there this weekend really meant something.
Anyway, that's enough of that - I want to talk about the drinking. I'd stayed sober until we got to Rick's (I was driving) but he did a very good job of helping me make up for lost time. First out came the white wine. That was followed by shot after shot of what I can only describe as "random booze of the world". The best was a green translucent liqueur that he brought out with the words "See if you know what flavour this is - every single person who has ever tasted it has got it wrong: They recognise it but can't picture it". I took a sip and said "Bananas".
It was. He called me a show off. There's no pleasing some people.
Oh and go and vote for me here - I'm fighting the housewives!
(I beat the housewives!)