Open Mic Gigs

Charity event (Gunwharf, Portsmouth)

I’m on the train, it’s busy, really busy. Ive been standing up now for 90mins and it looks like I’ll be standing up all the way.

Tonight’s gig (#20) is a charity event for Hack Sims, a young boy who is in need of an operation in the US to start his first steps.

I’m MC for the evening and we have 3 – 4 other comics performing

Dan Tambling - Charity Poster

I’ve decided not to do any of my stand up material whilst doing MC as they are two completely different jobs.

The fact that I happily walked on stage as the MC at the Underground Comedy Club and got stuck into my set only to realise I hadn’t introduced the night showed that the MC job is not simply a stand-up routine in a different order; it’s a completely different job and needs a lot more thought.

Right, I’m here, which is nice. I told a few people I was doing a gig in Portsmouth and they asked me if I am taking a gun! Luckily the gig is in the harbour, an up and coming area, so I should be ok? I’ve brought a rather unthreatening baby blue iPhone with rounded corners, so up against a gun I should be ok… right?

I’m staying at the Holiday Inn Express tonight in the harbour…“going up in the world” I hear you say.

Dan Tambling - Holiday Inn - Portsmouth

Well not quite, this gig is for free…again. I’m getting a hotel as I cannot be bothered to get back on a train for another 2.5hrs only to have to come back all this way tomorrow for a family weekend.

Having a hotel room should help me stay calm and enjoy the night if I fancy staying for a pint after the show. The only problem is my comedy email is playing up on the mobile, so I can’t check which hotel I have booked a room with… oh dear, this might not be as relaxing as I originally hoped.

Ok, the train gets in at 6:15pm and I have to be at the venue at 7:14pm. So I have 60 mins to visit all 43 hotels in the harbour desperately trying to find the right one!

It’s like an Anika Rice challenge! And the time starts… now.

Luckily the hotel and gig are in the same area as the train station. Phew, but thinking about it, that’s probably why I got that train and booked that hotel. Holiday Inn Express, in case you really were wondering.

Tonight’s gig is in the VIP area of Bar 38. Sounds promising.…oh hang on ‘VIP area?’ Isn’t that part of a larger space in a night club, so the VIP’s can be seen as superior beings…

As I walked into a seriously full bar I saw the ‘VIP area’. It was worse than I was fearing!

Not only was it part of a larger area, the area was also a corridor to the toilets. The back drop was all glass displaying the activities of the drunk party people outside. There was a TV on the wall playing Eastenders and the stage was half-filled with band equipment and half-filled with a bar!

The perfect Stand up comedy environment.

The perfect Stand up comedy environment.

To top it all off, the dance music blasting out of all corners of Bar 38 was already at Nan volume. I hope those speakers are going to project my voice over these beats otherwise this could a rather sticky night. To add a bit more spice, the original 4 comics performing have dropped to 2, due to unforeseen circumstances once again!

This could be the shortest gig in the history of comedy gigs.

And it might be getting shorter as only 1 comic has turned up!.. It’s ok nor have 80% the people…

The night, which was supposed to start at 8pm, finally kicks off at 8:38! This must be some sort of record.

Armed with 2 comics and an overwhelmingly high number of drunk people all dressed in random blood-soaked clothing (Oh, didn’t I tell you, it’s Halloween!) we got the party started. And as an extra bonus it was fireworks night here at Portsmouth Harbour as well.

Kill me now!

I walk on stage, the audience can just about hear me if I shout at the top of my voice. It starts badly and happily gets worse.

The audience all know each other. It’s a family charity event so instead of listening to the hilarious comedy they would rather catch up. “Oh hello jane, I haven’t seen you for ages” has now become my best heckle.

The comics did their stuff, I did mine. It was actually good fun, chatting the the audience is a tough skill, so tonight was great for that. I resisted to use my material, well apart from a mini bit about ‘Selfies’, which went down well. And to top it all off I closed the night with a challenge to the audience.

The Challenge: I will match whatever money the audience put forward for the charity then and there.

Now I was actually hoping to challenge just one person and was expecting them to produce £20 maybe £40… What actually happened was a free for all.

People started producing £20s faster than I could say ‘Holy shit this is becoming the worlds most expensive joke’

This was actually the most exciting part of the night and all of a sudden the whole audience were engaged. Each time I matched a £20, another bloody £20 appeared from the crowd. Luckily I had £100 in the back pocket having planned this game to turn a random night into a positive one.

Expensive? Yes. Fun? Yes. Raised money for a good cause? Yes.

Great night, very funny, strangest venue yet, roll on the next gig.


Dan Tambling is a stand-up comedian, sketch comedy writer, actor and producer of ‘12 sketches in a London house’. This is his blog.


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