Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I've got the memory of an elephant...

"I've got the memory of an elephant... I remember one time I went to the zoo and saw an elephant" said the much re-tweeted joke from Gary Delaney on Twitter. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect to see him live. Though this is one of his more acceptable jokes. Others are much much darker.

Gary had offered a lot of guest list spots for his Hen & Chickens preview show to be sure to have a good crowd as he was using this gig to test out new material. I was hoping to make it a double bill as Sarah Millican was due to perform first but she was vocanically stuck in Australia till the morning of the gig so her show had been rearranged.

I got to the bar and met fellow comedy stalwarts Sir Bob and @RobOxley before moving upstairs to the theatre. This is the second time I've been here in 2 weeks and I do like the venue. It's small enough to make a microphone unnecessary and Gary soon decided to move it to the side of the stage.

He is a one liner comedian which means he needs a LOT of jokes. And he had certainly come prepared. As well as the "bin of shame" for the jokes that don't work (and given his style, it's inevitable that there will be a few duffers) he also used an Ikea bag for the definites, and an improvised Tesco bag for the maybes.

He warmed up with a few killer gags that have been working for some time before he reached for his cards containing his new jokes that he would judge and sentence based on the audience reaction. These were in 3 piles - "Silly", "La-di-dah" (for people who had read books) and "Horrific". Needless to say it was the horrific gags that got the biggest reaction, and it's such fun to see a liberal, largely Twitter-based audience being pushed to the limits which he did with his final gag. I won't repeat it here as to see it written down would make it look rather harsh and illiberal, but the fact that Gary knew it was probably too far, admitted it beforehand and almost apologised for it somehow made it alright.

I'm not sure if it would be right for the full show, as the danger would be that someone would retell it - "'ere mate, 'ere's a good'un. Gary Delaney told it last night" before going on to ruin it without the explanation. It's all about the context!

Most of the audience were on the guest list via Twitter, and we found out that 5 people had paid to come to see the show. Gary rather sweetly said to them that if they saw him after the show that he would return their money as they had been "shafted" which provoked an "Awww" from the crowd, which is quite an unusual sound in a comedy club.

I don't know how many gags he got through last night. I'm roughly guessing 150. But as soon as I left, like often happens at comedy gigs, I could only remember three, though the one about the rape advice line went down well at work earlier.

I think the only thing that could have made the show more enjoyable would have been not sitting behind one of Richard Herring's least favourite audience members - the overlaugher. At first I thought she was a huge fan just having a good time and was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. Then she guffawed at another gag, howling and looking at her boyfriend to get confirmation that he liked it too before saying quietly to him "I didn't get that one." Well what are you laughing for???

As I left I passed Gary in the bar and thanked him for putting on this free show and telling him that I enjoyed it and would be seeing himself and Sarah Millican at Fat Tuesday in Islington on June the 8th (and if you have any sense you'd book your tickets early as they will sell out fast). His response was "Oh you're THAT guy?"

Not 100% sure what that meant, but I wish more people would say that.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Collins & Legge - Live!

So I went to the Hen & Chickens to see these two perform extracts from their new shows. Met up with @Neal55, @Misswiz, @Kateweb and "Sir Bob" (or Bob as I call him). It was only 10 minutes walk from my house which was very handy.

The Hen & Chickens is quite a well known comedy venue, and very intimate though this was my first visit here. I'm planning to see Gary Delaney (and hopefully Sarah Millican) there next Monday, as well as Stewart Lee & Bridget Christie in the nearish future. It was very busy when we arrived; unpleasantly so in fact, but as the evening went on some of the people thankfully headed off. Upstairs was a really nice, almost "proper" theatre rather than the usual room above a pub that I'm used to.

After sneaking downstairs quickly to get a pint of lovely Aspalls I got back up just in time as the lights went down and Michael Legge arrived on stage. He seemed a little nervous and pointed out he had a set list as well as his back up script. He got through most of his set before his time was up, though unfortunately there was no time for him to discuss "girl in a wheelchair", which I imagine was the story he told in his blog about the rather rude iPod playing (without headphones) lady on a train. The story about Halloween in Northern Ireland with his deaf best friend were hilariously told as well as his admiration and childhood love and obsession for Sir Walter Raleigh and good manners. Although this is an embryonic work, Legge's natural charm and charming natural swearing helped him through and I have no doubt that as the show progresses it will develop into a full performance that will be well worth seeing in Edinburgh (in 2011) or at the Camden Fringe later this year.

Andrew Collins came on next. I've seen his Secret Dancing twice before and it's a great piece of comedy. Andrew doesn't hide that fact that he is not a stand up comedian and this is part of the reason this works so well. He is a lot braver than most comedians as this part of his show is basically 4 minutes of mime / standing still, which for a non-comedian / actor is pretty brave stuff.

Andrew has 2 personas we know about: Richard Herring's "woolly liberal" foil on the Collings & Herrin podcast, as well as the music-loving ex-NME journalist & 6 Music DJ (who reverses roles with Herring on the Saturday morning shows). Collins on stage has a slight swagger but this strangely adds to his likability.

He has been doing this set for a while now and is honing it in time for Edinburgh Festival. I was disappointed he didn't tell the story about the time he walked next to a pigeon (those of you who haven't heard the story won't quite see why that is funny) but I'm sure that will come up on Monday's show. I don't think he will have any problem turning this into an hour long show for the festival; in fact Andrew could easily talk for as long as he likes on stage and people will happily listen.

Andrew asked for volunteers to Secret Dance with him and although earlier today I told myself that I was going to do it I chickened out and just one lovely man arrived on stage. He seemed to think there would be more, but no. Just him. But he was game and deserved the Collings & Herrin podcast CD that he was given. Which reminds me. I must order my copy soon. I have ordered Richard Herring's "How not to grow up" from Amazon and while I was at it bought 3 of Andrew's books too. Hopefully they should arrive tomorrow.

After the gig I had a chat with Michael and Andrew as well as Rob Heeney and James Hingley, and headed off on the long 10 minute walk home, secret dancing all the way. The evening was almost ruined however by finding out only my left earphone now work unless I hold my head at an unnatural angle. Anyway, if you are looking for a great night out that doesn't cost a vast amount of cash there are 2 more shows to go: one tonight and one on 31st May. You have to go !

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Post #1

OK, so I've finally started a blog.

Everyone seems to be doing it, some more successfully than others, so I think I should give it a go.

I must try not to blog when drunk. That is probably quite important, but I'm sure it may happen.

I used to keep diaries to help with my memory. I kind of gave that up and along the way with my many house moves, I have lost most of them. I don't have a very good memory at all, and not in a jokey way. I can barely remember my childhood and my teenage memories are a mere blur with a few chunks that may or may not be true ones. Hopefully this will be a good aid for that, if only I have the self-discipline and motivation to keep it up.

I think this whole memory issue is due to either drinking too much in general, or the excessive and hideous amount of cannabis I consumed in my early 20s. Who knows, but its quite a bitch when people talk to me about something that happened last month and I have virtually no memory of it at all (even though I did for a few days afterwards) It's almost like the memories are there but slowly slip away if I don't actively try to keep them there.

Anyway, moving on, I'm sure that most people that read this will be people that I have met on Twitter and people that I know on the comedy scene. This presents a dilemma. How honest should I be? On one hand as not many of my expected readers really KNOW me I could be 100% brutally honest and not give a monkeys what people think, but on the other hand if you all knew the unexpurgated truth you may cross the road if you see me coming.

I shall play it by ear and see what happens !