Sunday, May 16, 2010

Foot in mouth disease

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Or in my case, doing the same thing over and over again, and being surprised by different results.

I've been getting slack with comedy over the past few weeks; relying on the same material every week, and leaning a bit too much on audience reaction rather than my own material.  Which is an odd thing, because I came from a position originally of not wanting to interact with the audience; there's a reason why one person at a time is on the stage, rather than the audience trooping up to the mike one after another to make a contribution.

Plus I've been spending less time rehearsing than really I should; as a consequence of using the same bits over and over again.  Which left me rustier than before.  And it's something that you can get away with for a while, with a prevailing wind and a forgiving audience, but then you come up against people who most certainly don't want interaction; they want to be entertained.

So it was to my great chagrin that I found myself on Saturday drawn into an argument with an obstreperous punter who wanted me to stop asking questions and tell some jokes, when really I should have been paying more attention to the audience reaction and not got into a situation where I was the hacky guy on stage who spends all evening going "so ... anyone got any kids? ... so ... anyone ever been in a relationship? ... so ... anyone like audience participation?"

It didn't go well.  She left and demanded her money back, and I had to flounder through the rest of the show.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been hosting, but because of that it was a matter of dragging myself back to the stage again and again, wracked with guilt at my screw-up and floundering without much confidence in my material.

And maybe somebody who gets angry and storms out isn't going to enjoy the night anyway, but they've still paid money and they need some form of entertainment.  At least I'm responsible for some sort of first for the club.

I was in a funk for the rest of the night: going to a shady bar somewhere in Midlevels and playing very sloppy bass helped a bit (although I've now got a couple of heinous blisters on my fingers from the strings), and then I struggled home for a night of stressful sleep, but hopefully there's a few lessons learnt:
Closed questioning is good, but you're much safer if you have some material to go straight into if there's no answer forthcoming
Practise, practise, practise
Grin at hecklers and don't get mad at them; if you look angry, then you're going to be a bully with some amplification equipment, and that's no good
... and stay calm.  Worst that can happen is somebody charges the stage and tries to kill you, and in that case you've got a microphone stand to defend yourself with.  I suppose if the earlier factors were ticked off, that makes staying calm much easier, but it's all something to bear in mind.

A week and a half to get good before I open for Paul Ogata - so that's some incentive to clean my act up and get back to something that works reliably again...


Anonymous said...

Don't beat yourself up, making everybody laugh all the time is no easy task; there'll always be someone who finds you disappointing or thinks you're a bit of a twat. Oooo that sounded a bit harsh, sorry. But you know what I mean!

Mr Cushtie said...

I get your meaning, Ms Viatoris :-)

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