Open Mic Gigs

My 3rd Ever Gig! — The Cavendish Arms (Stockwell, London)

This is my 3rd ever performance. Though tonight is my first open mic gig outside the protective blanket of the Comedy Course. I was now on my own. Would this have an effect on me or my performance? Only time will tell.

Cavendish Arms in Stockwell - Comedy Virgins

Cavendish Arms in Stockwell — Comedy Virgins

The open mic gig is at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell, down south again. Hosted by Jack Samuel Warner and they state it’s:

The friendliest and busiest night on the London Open Mic Circuit”

I had never been to the Cavendish Arm nor met Jack Samuel Warner, but that was about to change as I entered the pub

I felt like I had just stumbled into someone’s front room. There were leather armchairs everywhere with an open fire roaring away. Everyone in the pub seemed to know eachother as they were draping themselves over these rather plush chairs to chat to one another. Was this the right place? Had I got the night wrong and was now standing in the middle of a rather relaxed, though heavily cultured, party?

In preparation for tonight I’d decided I needed to do new material, the stuff about my Nan was about to hit the fan. I didn’t really think about my set until I was standing in the Cavendish arms waiting for the night to start. At that point I realised that I hadn’t actually practiced this set and this could be a bit of a problem.

I tried to focus on the fact that this is just for me to practice my stuff, it’s not about being the best performer in the room, getting whoops and cheers and then thrown up in the air like a hero. Though that would be nice. It was a great opportunity to try stuff and see how it goes. As the night started, the fear was starting to creep in. To relax everyone’s nerves the host, Jack, announced that the order of performances would be random! So I could be up at any moment! Brilliant.

I wrote a few words on my hand and sat back to see who would be going up first. There was a huge variety of styles and ideas put forward on the stage. Some were very funny and others were trying out material, and were more than happy to say: “Well that didn’t exactly go to plan did it?”

Cavendish Arms stage - ~Its were the magic happens

The Cavendish Arms stage – It’s where the magic happens

While I was watching the previous acts all I wanted to do was quietly leave. “Would that door get me out if here?” I thought looking at the only door in the room. I was not feeling comfortable. Was it because it was a new venue? New people? No comfort blanket of my course chums around me telling me it’s all going to be great?

Maybe it was because I was surrounded by the bigger boys and it was getting serious, there were 20 comedy acts. “Christ I’m not feeling this, relax Dan It’ll be fine once your up there you’ll jump I to action” I said to myself… it didn’t!

As I was standing by the side of the stage about to go on, listening to the crowd clapping and cheering, mainly due to Jack the host demanding it in his energy pumped way, all I was thinking was, “What am I doing here? I am not ready for this, Christ!”.

I then walked on stage, thinking “Fuck, I really don’t want to be here!”.

I couldn’t see anyone or anything, as the stage lights were so bright. I couldn’t really hear much laughing either. God, it felt like I was just back in my flat trying stuff out. Whereas in my flat I could pretend the audience was loving it, here they clearly were not!

I left the stage, feeling a little deflated. Crap, that hadn’t gone according to plan. My heart just wasn’t in it, I don’t know why, I just wasn’t feeling the excitement or adrenaline at all. In fact, before I went on stage my heart rate hadn’t even increased!

On a positive there were some really funny things tonight and I feel there is plenty to learn from watching lots more open mic comics doing their stuff.


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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