Random Thoughts

Gig 13: Dirty Dicks again (Liverpool St, London)

Tonight I’m Back at Dirty DicksComedy Night - We are Funny TuesdaysSince last week I’ve been tweaking the material about babies (I also spent the weekend at a family BBQ surrounded by 7 babies in hope of inspiration…)

I’m performing this material in a 10 min gig on Thursday at the Underground Comedy Club, though tonight I’ll be doing a 5 min set at Dirty Dicks, so at best I’ll be able to try out half the material! The rest I’ll have to just go for! (This is how not to do it…)

On my way to the gig I realised I’d forgotten my pen to add notes to my hand! Shit, this mini helper has been with me every time I’ve done a gig and now I’m going to try out new material without him!

Come on Dan, you can’t rely on Mr Pen to help you out every time, right?” Once I arrive I look at the order of acts on tonight, I’m number 7 on the list, which is a lot better than 17 like last time!

Within no time at all, my name gets called out, and I’m walking to the stage. Ok, gig 13 here we go. Oh hang on, isn’t Gig 13 supposed to be unlucky!?

I started with the same opening line as last week, though with more energy and… it died.

I then carried on with the routine and struggled. Christ these guys really don’t like babies! 

Then only 2 mins in, my mind went blank! Oh no, I seriously couldn’t think what was supposed to come next, nothing came to me, nothing at all! I looked at my hand where my notes should have been, and back at the audience! Then back at my hand… this was bad, really bad!

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I turned to the MC hoping his face would remind me of my material… it didn’t.

Dan: “How long have I been on?” 

MC: “Oh you have loads of time”

Dan: “Shit, this is awkward.…” (This got my first big laugh! Better keep that in the routine)

MC: “Talk to the audience” 

Oh my god it’s improvise time… double balls. I thought back to the times when we had to improvise in the comedy course, like the good guy does in films when he needs to regain focus to beat the bad guy, and then I remembered how much I hated improvising, and the course!

I left the stage after a rather unimpressive 2 mins 32 secs. I’ve survived ‘Gong Nights’ longer than that!

People say: “You should never use notes on my hand”. I say: “Use notes on your hand until you are so comfortable with the stories, that you can focus purely on the audience not what comes next!”

A few things comics said which were great advice tonight:

  • It takes time for the set to sink in’
  • There is an element of acting, which needs to come into play’
  • Practice in front of the mirror’

Part of me is concerned that I’m more interested in ticking all the boxes instead of getting stuck in. I think I need to get much more stage time, so I’m more relaxed and less distracted or easily thrown.

Reasons why it didn’t work:

  • My opening line is not as strong as I thought
  • I get too easily distracted by the audience
  • I was too relaxed
  • I was sleepy
  • I hadn’t really practiced the set as a whole
  • I was not 100% about the set
  • I had already had a bad gig last week
  • I get worried about trying to force it into 5 mins
  • I didn’t draw any cartoons in prep for the set

Final thought:

  • I need a stronger opener

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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