The thing is, it doesn't always go well. I did the comedy cafe last Thursday, or rather, the comedy cafe did me - good and proper. It's a famous old venue that I generally enjoy playing and I've spoken about it in glowing terms previously in this blog. Noel the proprietor is a good friend of mine, a genuine eccentric and one of the people I think the world needs. What I didn't need was what happened on Thursday. I have to start by saying that I am about to give a list (as long as your arm) of excuses as to why I didn't do well on stage on Thursday and ultimately the buck stops with me. A section of the audience didn't like what I did and let me know in no uncertain terms. Could I have done different material? Yes. Could I have acted differently? Yes. If given another opportunity to play the same crowd could I have got them onside? Probably. I didn't though.
The compere set a particularly aggressive tone to the evening as he launched into several different "targets" at the top of the show. The first act was of a similarly aggressive nature and had also interacted a lot with the crowd. End of part one and they had done well, to be fair and worked very hard. Start of part two - Paultime. Again, the compere did not hold back in berating sections of the crowd and again whipped them up into a not particularly nice state before bringing me on. I was tolerated for about ten minutes but it was always hard and I didn't want to further get involved in conversations with the crowd. I wanted to do my material. They, however, did not want me to do my material. Here's the big reveal: Sixty of them were from an insurance company. I don't know which one. I don't care. All I know is that one table of them decided to boo me. I know. It's 2011 and I was getting booed for doing nothing other than trying my best. It was hilarious, really. I tried reasoning with them to no avail and eventually vacated the stage to muted applause. I left shortly after with my tail between my legs.
This would have been easily get-over-able had it not happened again on Friday. This time round the subjects changed but the outcome was the same. The compere wound up the crowd, the first act demonstrated downright animosity towards them, I went on, tried to be friendly and a section of them hated me for it. I changed tack, did different material and really did give it my best shot. Another all-male table of drunks sat stage right in exactly the same spot as the insurance types had been the night before and started shouting things at me before I'd even begun. I had attempted to acknowledge them and got laughs for my responses to them but that wasn't enough for them. I had to stop the show and ask them to be quiet because everyone around them was getting pissed off. They took this very badly and just started talking very loudly to each other. Again, the whole right hand side of the room had stayed with me throughout and if you'd been at that end you could have thought I'd had a good gig. I hadn't. It had been another horror show. Again I left to muted applause.
Roll on Saturday, I thought to myself. Saturday is always the best night at the comedy cafe. The room is transformed from an audience full of drunk office workers and stags to couples and birthday crowds and no matter what's happened over the three days you normally end the weekend happy. I didn't get this chance because I was dropped entirely from the bill. An element of this was obviously the audience reaction of the previous two gigs. An added element was that they had messed up the booking and got three musical acts on the bill for the last night. The irony is that had I opened the show on Saturday the atmosphere would have been far nicer for the second act because there would only have been half as much audience bating at the start. It makes no difference. The decision was made, there were no hard feelings, I look forward to going back there in the New Year when I am booked myself to compere and the best bit of the whole thing was that it meant I effectively got paid to watch fireworks on a Saturday night!
...And what a display! Blueharts Hockey Club in Hitchin host an annual firework display on bonfire night. Other institutions will do their display on a weekend night to ensure a bigger crowd. The Blueharts display is always so brilliant that they couldn't get a bigger crowd. The place is always packed and it seems like half the town shows up for it. I certainly bumped into people I haven't seen in ages, lost the friends I went with within minutes of getting there and by the time I finally fought my way into the clubhouse afterwards the last two nights had evaporated in a puff of barbecue smoke. I had been getting stuck into real ale (at three quid a pint - well done Blueharts!) and continued on the tradition as the night bore increasing fruit and then something happened to put everything into perspective. I bumped into the sister of my childhood sweetheart and she told me the sad news that her mother had passed away suddenly several months ago. I had had no idea. It stopped me dead in my tracks really. There was me bawling to anyone who'd listen about how my life was so hard and their family had dealt with all that? I had a fantastic drink with her dad (who was outside and who I had not seen for over a decade) and we reminisced about what on reflection were considerably happier times. Then I went down The Victoria (my default drinking hole), got absolutely banjaxed and woke up at 5pm on Sunday afternoon not knowing where the bloody hell I was. That was explained to me in no uncertain terms by a friend of mine who promptly turfed me out. I had an hour to get home, freshen up and get over to mother's for Sunday Dinner. That was heartily devoured (I hadn't eaten for a day) and then I was off back to London to do a gig at The Kings Head. I always saw that show as being a potential antidote to The Comedy Cafe and it proved to be exactly that. A lovely audience reminded me that I was indeed funny and that was repeated on Monday night at a fantastic gig in Northampton. I've now got a couple of days off before my own monthly shows this weekend and I'm spending tonight going to see three bands with female lead singers who all know me. I'll try and blog about that later in the week. Sorry about the lack of photos in this one, but I've spent the last few days with either a car steering wheel, a guitar or (most likely) a drink in my hand and no-one I was with appeared to be in the mood for taking snaps either. This will be rectified tonight. Honest, guv.
Oh I'm going to be involved in this link every week as well - it's a group of bloggers who are spreading their readerships and there might well be something of interest there for you, should you have the time...