I've just come off stage from my first ever solo hour of comedy. I don't know how I feel: somewhere between humiliated and elated, I think. Parts of my body are dying to get back on the stage and do it again and a lot of me wants to cry. What a strange feeling.
When I woke up this morning I had no idea I'd do this today: I was booked here at Portsmouth FC to do 30 minutes as part of Joe Wells' World Record attempt at the longest ever comedy gig. This gig has been going since Saturday; longer than most of my relationships. At about midday today I got asked if I could stretch my 30 minutes to an hour as they needed more people to do time and I thought... if I just text back and agree to this now then I have to do it and then I have to do it. So I did and I had to do it. Now I have done it.
It went OK... considering it was to 12 people at 5:30pm and those 12 people had been watching comedy all day it went OK. It lacked structure, confidence and a few jokes in places but it was an hour of stand up comedy. How funny to just realise a bit of a dream on a Tuesday afternoon.
I'd guess most of the people who will read this won't ever bother doing an hour of comedy but if you're interested this is how it went for me... It went by extremely quickly but at the same time every time I looked from the clock to my list of remaining material it seemed like I had no way in hell of making it to the end of the hour. It made me feel vulnerable: out of my comfort zone of my secure 30 minute set. I kept apologising to them because it wasn't perfect but at the same time hoping they'd know from my eyes (?!) that actually I was quite confident in myself and material.
As soon as I came off I wanted to do it again and I had ideas for how to; what to rewrite, what a better themed thread through it could be. I am so relieved I can do it. That might seem weird; but holding people's attention for an hour is so different to a normal comedy set that there was a certain amount of nervousness in my mind that I just wouldn't know how to do an hour and it would be AWFUL. It was a solid 5/10.
I've got a few shows booked at the Camden Fringe this year to perform my hour (with 5 months of polishing and writing) and August now can't come quick enough.
It's been quite a week of firsts for me: at the weekend I MCd a "weekend club" for the first time. That was another big thing that was looming on my mind horizon as a hurdle I needed to jump that I was intimidated by. Again, with that, I got a call the day before to see if I could do it and I thought I ought to agree very quickly before I could talk myself out of it.
I went up to Camden and I was nervous. Now, I don't get nervous normally for gigs any more but in that moment before the offstage announcer called my name and I had to walk up on to the stage, I KNEW I couldn't do it. I just knew the audience would hate me; they'd think I was flimsy and shrill, my throat wouldn't work, my face would flush and my legs and hands would shake. But I had to walk up on the stage and so I did, and it went well... it was hard but I did it and the audience liked me. I'm not going to pretend I broke any moulds but I made a man in the front row stop doing his finances during the gig (genuinely), and I dealt with a table of men who wouldn't even face the stage at the start of the gig (I didn't say anything clever, I just threatened to kill one of them in his sleep - but I won).
The promoter from Camden rang me today and booked me for another gig in a few weeks. A woman from the audience today has just asked if I'll come back and play the Theatre Royal if she gets in touch.
Comedy is difficult and alien and it's so consistent in its judgement; whether it's the audience at the time, the audience talking within earshot afterwards, the promoter and either their feedback or abyss of silence which says it all. Sometimes you have to just jump and hope and think about it later and deal with the fallout once you've signed yourself up. What's the worst that can happen?