King Gong, Part Three

Listen to the badly read, unedited audio version of this blog, with additional swearing and mistakes, here

Last Sunday night I did one of my first standup comedy performances. It was my first appearance at the King Gong comedy competition at Manchester’s Comedy Store. In fact, it was my first experience of such an event.

It’s an open mic comedy night, giving new and up and coming comedians as well as members of the general public who believe they might be funny the opportunity to perform for up to five minutes. They may not actually reach five minutes though, as the audience has the power to dismiss the performer if they are not to their liking. Three people in the audience are given a red card each. When the three cards are held up, a gong sounds and the performer leaves the stage.

In yesterday’s blog post I talked you through some of the other performers that took part. Now it’s time to find out how I fared.

My first concern was getting on the stage without incident. The Comedy Store staff had kindly offered to show me the layout of the stage before the doors opened to let the audience in. While I thought I knew the route onto the stage, I was a little worried that I may be involved in creating some inadvertent physical comedy, as I floundered and stumbled around, or fell down a set of steps. It would be highly embarrassing to gain more of a laugh from n accidental bit of slapstick than from my actual material.

Fortunately, I made it onto the stage without incident. I was not as nervous as I thought I’d be, but I still managed to stumble over my first line, indicating that I was still a bit nervous. It was the slightest of stumbles though, and it didn’t seem to impede the delivery of the first joke. The opening material got laughs. It wasn’t hysterical laughter, but it was laughter nonetheless, and it bolstered my confidence a little.

I’m not going to include the recording of my spot in this blog post, as I plan on honing and developing it further.

Having listened to the recording back a few times, I’ve realised how long it took me to set up an idea and get to the funny bit. After the opening couple of jokes I went for nearly an entire minute without saying anything funny. This may be fine in a folk gig, where the audience aren’t as impatient to reach a punchline, as they’re not expecting a night of non-stop comedy. But a comedy audience – certainly a more mainstream comedy audience – demand jokes and punchlines at a much faster pace. In fairness to the card holders, they did not penalise my minute of mirthlessness, or at least not immediately.

The second bout of jokes – when it eventually came – got a bigger response. The audience seemed to be enjoying my material, and I started to feel like I was getting into my stride.

Unfortunately, this feeling was short-lived, as this coincided with me hearing someone in the audience shout “wanker!” It took me a couple of seconds to evaluate the situation and realise what had actually just happened.

Someone in the audience had raised the first card. I’d only heard one person being gonged off up until this point, as I was third on, and the first performer had survived the full five minutes. The cards had gone up for the second performer so quickly that there wasn’t really much of an announcement about the cards being raised; there was just the sound of the gong. The shout of “wanker” from an audience member was actually the MC behind me informing me and the audience that the first card had been lifted. So the MC shouted “one Card,” and I got all confused and heard a shout of “wanker.” This confusion caused me to lose my train of thought a bit. It was only a momentary laps though, and I quickly remembered where I was and what I was meant to be saying. Perhaps it wasn’t quick enough for the second card holder, because, no sooner had I recomposed myself, they raised a card.

“Two cards,” came the voice. This caused me to fluster a little more. Again, it was only a tiny fluster, and I was just getting refocused when I was startled by the clatter that came from behind me. It was the sound of the gong. I put the microphone back in its holder and walked off the stage. There were a few people in the audience who voiced their sadness that I was leaving. I’d like to think that this was because they were enjoying my act, rather than because I was blind and they felt sorry for me. There’s always that worry that people are being kinder and more forgiving because of my blindness, which I hope is not the case. I want to earn people’s laughter and positive reaction based on my material and not because I’m blind. But perhaps I am overthinking this and people were genuinely appreciating my performance.

I managed to continue the comedy off the stage, making a couple of little jocular comments as I exited, which actually got a very good laugh.

I lasted for three minutes eight seconds, which was the longest amount of time out of all the other performers that hadn’t made the five minutes, so I suppose this meant that I came fifth out of the twenty performers.

At the start of the second half, the compere asked the audience if they had agreed with the card holders’ decisions. There were many dissenting voices, suggesting that they weren’t keen on some of the choices they’d made. Perhaps I was one of the causes of their displeasure. Maybe they were disappointed that my performance was cut short, although, similarly, it might have been the complete opposite reason and perhaps they were annoyed with the card holders for having let me get away with boring them for as long as I did.

I really enjoyed the experience though, and the night itself. I also loved hearing the other acts and I’ve really enjoyed listening back to the recording and analysing the performances. The staff at the comedy Store were very friendly and accommodating. There was a really good atmosphere and the audience were a good audience. The compere was very funny and quick thinking, able to banter with the audience and keep the show moving. I’m looking forward to going back soon. Unfortunately, I’m gigging on the October night, and I’m meant to be in Hartlepool early in the morning on the day after the November date, although I am going to try and make it if I can.

I’m also going to look for other opportunities to perform in Manchester and the local area. Hopefully next time I’ll be more confident, and not flustered by the holding up of one of the red cards.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my review of my first King Gong experience. I plan on blogging about my experience the next time I attend one of these nights.

The winners of this month’s King Gong was Hawkeye and Windy.

Still no update regarding my computer problem. I know this must be torture for some of you,. Some of you have money riding on this, and the rest of you are impatiently waiting for the release of a Young’uns Podcast and Pick and Mix. I’ll hopefully get around to looking at it early next week.

Thanks for reading.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

King Gong, Part Two

Listen to the audio version of this blog post (with additional content) here.

Last Sunday night I did one of my first standup comedy performances. It was my first appearance at the King Gong comedy competition at Manchester’s Comedy Store. In fact, it was my first experience of such an event. It is likely that you are new to the concept of the King Gong show, as less than a week ago I too was completely unfamiliar with it.

The concept is that anyone can have a go at performing comedy. It’s an open mic comedy night, giving new and up and coming comedians as well as members of the general public who believe they might be funny the opportunity to perform for up to five minutes. They may not actually reach five minutes though, as the audience has the power to dismiss the performer if they are not to their liking. Three people in the audience are given a red card each. When the three cards are held up, a gong sounds and the performer leaves the stage. If there is more than one act who has lasted the full five minutes then they are all invited to perform an extra minute. The audience then applauds the act they like the best, and the act that gets the biggest ovation is crowned the winner – King Gong.

I’ll split this blog post into two parts because I think it’ll be far too long for an average reader. In tomorrow’s blog post I’ll talk about my performance, but today I want to talk you through some of the other acts. It was quite a night, with some very interesting performers.

My performance was third in the first half. A part of me was hoping that the first two acts would be so awful that I would be hailed a comedy God regardless of what I said. Unfortunately, the first performer, despite getting off to a shaky start – when his second joke failed to illicit much of a laugh and he exclaimed “fuck” and nervously laughed – began to get into his stride and the audience warmed to him the more he went on. Three minutes into his performance someone held up a red card, but the other two remained down and he lasted the full five minutes.

The compere said at the start of the show that most people don’t make it anywhere close to five minutes before being gonged off. If the next act lasted the full five minutes then I’d really have my work cut out.

While the first act was good, I wonder whether one reason he might have survived the full five minutes was because he was first on, and the audience were still sussing out the format and the night, and they didn’t have anything to compare him to. The compere at the start of the night asked the audience how many people were coming to the King Gong show for the first time, and the majority of the audience cheered.

The second performer seemed much more nervous. His pace was much slower and he used a lot of redundant words and phrases, presumably out of nerves or perhaps to fill time. I tend to do the opposite of this, throwing too many words into the mix at rapid speed, which can be just as bad. In most instances, I won’t include performer’s actual material here, though I’ll make an exception in certain cases, because I assume that these people won’t be using that material ever again, given the reaction it got and the fact that it either was devoid of any humour or just didn’t make sense.

The second performer’s opening joke was that his sister was expecting a baby this coming Friday. “They don’t know the sex of it yet, so I don’t know if I’m going to be an aunty or an uncle.”

This did generate a laugh, but the laugh lasted too long for it to be genuine amusement at the joke, and seemed to be more that the audience were laughing at the nonsensical comment. After this “punchline”, he paused for about seven seconds before continuing. By the way, I have a recording of the night which I am listening back to as I write this; I haven’t remembered the entire night in exact detail. I’m not sure whether the pause was due to nerves or due to the realisation that people were laughing at him rather than with him, or perhaps he genuinely thought the laugh was a positive reflection of his joke and so he decided to bask in his glory for a few seconds. Just as he began to talk again, someone held up one of the red cards. There were no more jokes, just a few time killing phrases, such as, “er … yes … I’m excited to be here.” But the audience didn’t share this sentiment, and the other two cards were held up one after the other, bringing his act to a close after thirty-eight seconds.

The third act was me, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

I’ve just listened back to the fourth act’s performance. At the time he didn’t really do anything for me, but this was no reflection on him, but rather to do with the fact that I was mulling over my performance just seconds earlier. But was I brooding or celebrating? Find out tomorrow. Having listened back to his performance, I think he is really good. His style is calm and understated, not forced. His observations and jokes were intelligent. Perhaps his act could be described as geeky, which is by no means an insult. I think he was suitably different enough from the mainstream comedians out there. He didn’t seem to be trying too hard to replicate an idea or a person he’d seen on TV. We got a sense of who he is as a person, and that person was very likeable, erudite and funny.

His name is Benji Waterstones. You can check him out on Twitter here.

He lasted the full five minutes with just one red card in the air.

The fifth act lasted for one minute forty seconds. He was OK I suppose. His opening routine got a few laughs but for the wrong reasons.

“I was talking to this black girl the other day,” he began, before spotting a black girl in the audience and asking, “it wasn’t you was it.” It wasn’t a necessary part of the act, and it didn’t add anything to the rest of his joke, and so it seemed a bit odd to isolate this particular person just because she happened to be a girl who is black, which is hardly uncommon in Manchester. I think some people were taken aback by this, and there were a few awkward laughs from members of the audience along with some murmurs of disapproval. Obviously it’s not a big thing, and the joke wasn’t an attack on black girls, but it was an unnecessary aside that lost the audience, both for its slightly confrontational nature and because the comment meant that the punchline took longer to reach.

The sixth act was seventeen, and his “comedy” was certainly very adolescent. Again, I don’t think I need worry about quoting his material in this blog post, as I doubt he’ll be using it on stage again. At least I strongly hope not, for his sake and for the sake of the rest of us. I don’t want to be spiteful about other acts, but this seventeen year old boy had seemingly assumed that the kind of comments he makes to his mates in the playground would translate well to a more mainstream comedy audience. This is his routine, verbatim
“the other day, I’m not going to lie, I was horny as shit. I was so horny. It was like … you know when you’re a heroin addict and you get the shakes.” He then proceeded to make a growling noise and violently shake his body. Some people in the audience were already getting a bit fed up by the routine. If you’re reading this blog then you might want to have a listen to the audio version of this post, as I have included the actual audio of this performance, so that you can appreciate the extent of the cringe worthiness. Many people in the audience had already cottoned onto the fact that he was essentially a horny teenager telling us through a variety of misplaced and pointless similes how horny he was. People were either laughing at him or making noises of disgruntlement, urging the card holders to exercise their power. But the card holders did not take heed. Perhaps they were enjoying the novelty of this performance. This is one of the positives of a night like the King Gong night. You can see some really good up and coming acts, some promising fledgling attempts, with the occasional bout of humiliating and agonising awkward bile. You get to see once-in-a-lifetime performances, or at least performances that really should be once-in-a-life time, if the performer has an ounce of sense.

His way of relating to the audience was somewhat odd too: “You know when you’re a heroin addict?” No, funnily enough I don’t, having never been a heroine addict, and I can’t speak for the rest of the audience, but I imagine that the majority of them would have not had the experience of being a heroin addict either. Perhaps I’m wrong here, and this description was resonating with the vast majority of the audience, although it might destroy the humour somewhat, as the audience remember their tragic past when they were hooked on drugs.

“And the only thing you need is that sweet sweet pussy, you know what I’m talking about?“ The audience responded to this question not with an emphatic “yes,” nor a murmur of understanding, but rather another bout of bemused awkward laughter and the holding up of the first red card.

I think he thought the laughter was a positive reflection on his performance. He didn’t seem too taken aback by the laughter, which in fairness was probably one of the loudest responses of the night. Even the acts that went down particularly well were getting less of a laugh than this horny teenager calling us all heroine addicts. If you were a member of the audience who didn’t speak any English then you might assume that this lad was going down very well and was the best and funniest act on the bill so far. And in some ways he was. Does it matter that what he was saying wasn’t clever or thought provoking? People were laughing, and that’s essentially why they’d come. There was no way he could make a living out of this routine, but for tonight, he was making people laugh just as much (if not more) than the other acts, even if it was for different reasons, and unintentional on his part.

“So, I looked online. for an escort. I had a choice. Do I just call a girl? Do I just call a girl and say … like … “hey, do you wanna fuck?” Or do I get an escort? The only thing is, some girls are fucking effort, you know what I’m saying man? Some girls make you work. The amount of diplomacy involved is staggering. You could get … like … peace in the Middle East with the amount of effort it takes. So I looked at … like … one profile, and I saw this fine piece, I mean a solid ten out of ten, you know? So, I arranged to meet this girl. And, no joke …” Well at least he’s made one accurate observation. “no joke” is pretty spot on.

“I was working at the Premier Inn. You know the one near the cathedral? Some hotels specialise in … like … business management, some hotels specialise in … like … spar facilities, the Premier Inn near the cathedral specialises in discrete prostitute pickups, you know? I mean, you think, why the fuck don’t they just knock it down? I’ll tell you why they don’t knock it down. Because half of the Manchester councillors are being blown by some disease ridden prostitute as we speak. You know what I mean? So I’m waiting there, and at this point my dick is so hard, when this girl tries to fuck me I could knock this girl out. When she tries to fuck me I’m going to knock the fuck …”

At this point there is a mix of confused and bemused laughter, but he is unable to continue and be heard, as the majority of the audience have begun to appeal to the two remaining card holders, shouting “off, off, off.” Some people are shouting “get him off,” but this seems a bit of an ironic and unfortunate heckle, given that being got off is precisely what his entire routine is about. An audience shouting “get him off” while pointing at him might be all this overly-horny teenager could stand, causing his penis to explode. And given the apparent hardness of his dick and its ability to knock people out, this could be quite dangerous for the front roe.

The remaining two card holders finally heeded the cries of the audience and held up their cards, and our horny teenage friend was forced to leave the stage, dragging his unnaturally hard tail between his legs.

He lasted for two minutes fifteen seconds, which is probably about the amount of time he’d have lasted with that escort, unless proceedings were curtailed before that by her being knocked out by his super hard dick.

Oddly, it turned out that this seventeen-year-old had his dad and granddad in the audience, and they were laughing along. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about sex in front of my dad or grandad, and here was this teenager shouting about his hard dick and horniness on stage to them and a hundred strangers.

The seventh act spent over a minute setting up his first joke, but it seemed to be going nowhere, and the card holders along with the rest of the audience didn’t expect that their patients and tolerance was about to be rewarded with a punchline worthy of the wait, and he was gonged off after one minute fifteen seconds.

The eighth act was evidently nervous. He made a joke about this at the start of his set, which went down OK, but as soon as the first card was held up it seemed to throw him. He stammered a bit, and before he could regain composure the second card was lifted into the air. He never got going again, messing up the punchline to a joke, the setup of which no one heard over the compere’s announcement of the raising of the second card. The third card cut short his second attempt at the same punchline, and the gong sounded, heralding his departure after one minute twenty-two seconds.

How to describe the next act. He was a man, grotesquely dressed as a woman. He didn’t really make any jokes as such, but just spoke in a camp voice about his boobs and his/her boyfriend. For a few seconds, he got some bemused laughter, but after forty-six seconds the three red cards were lifted and the gong sounded.

The final act of the first half was, in my opinion, the most cringeworthy. I felt genuinely uncomfortable and was begging the card holders to terminate the performance.

He came on in a wheel chair. His opening joke was, “I was going to do some standup tonight, but obviously I can’t stand up.” It’s a tired and worn out line. It got a tiny laugh. It was to be the best laugh he was going to get. All his other jokes were along the same lines.

“So I’l do all the jokes sat down, is that all right?” There was the tiniest of chuckles. He raised his voice. “I said, is that all right, Manchester.” Some people shouted yes, but the majority of the audience were bemused and quiet.

“People often get fed up with me, and they say, ‘when are you going to get off your fucking fat arse?’ Well, I’ll try, but …”

There was some awkward laughter. The first card was lifted. He then told a story about his journey here from York. It wasn’t a joke, but he said it like it sort of was. He basically told us, amidst a plentiful supply of swear words, that his train was a bus replacement, and that he couldn’t get on the bus, so the train company got him a free taxi. There wasn’t a punchline, unless you class him triumphantly shouting, “result!”

He tried to start another joke about being in a wheelchair and not being able to stand, but the remaining two cards shot up, the card holders taking their stand against this cringeworthy nonsense.

The second half was a mixed bag, with a combination of really good and competent acts, and more people making tits out of themselves.

There were two more acts that lasted the full five minutes, and deservedly so. There was Monty Burns, a brash, confident, high-octane Scottish man, who’s comedy was perhaps a little similar to that of Frankie Boyle. It was mainstream comedy, but I don’t mean that as an insult; I just mean that his comedy would play well with a mainstream audience, and I could imagine him on TV. He’d obviously done standup many times before. He had the demeanour of a standup comedian, and he’d obviously honed his act, possessing a good meter and style. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The second act was a female duo called Hawkeye and Windy, who sang songs with piano accompaniment. The humour was quite dark, but there songs were very funny and they had the audience in the palm of their hands.

So, currently you know there were at least four finalists, but you don’t know whether there was a fifth contender. Tomorrow I shall talk you through my performance and see whether I made it to the final five. Until then, thanks for reading friends.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

King Gong, Part One

Listen to the audio version of this blog post here.

The absence of a new Young’uns Podcast and Pick and Mix is mainly down to an issue with the computer I use for audio work. I mentioned this in my last blog post, and I’m sure many of you have been on tenterhooks (what ever the hell they are), waiting in anticipation to hear my details about what exactly this problem is. I’ve heard that a number of you have been taking bets on the nature of the problem. Well, I’m afraid I can’t definitively tell you what’s wrong, but it seems likely that it’s a problem with the computer’s Firewire chip. But don’t get too excited if that’s what you bet on, as it may not be that, so don’t splash the cash yet just on the basis of this current conjecture. I will keep you updated.

Hopefully a new Young’uns Podcast and the third Pick and Mix (Pop Goes the Eagle) will be released soon, although, the computer is not the only reason I’ve not got round to it. I’ve been writing some standup material, and I’ll actually be performing some of it this Sunday evening at the Comedy Store in Manchester. Well hopefully I’ll be performing some of it. The event is called King Gong, the reason for which is due to the fact that if the audience aren’t enjoying your performance then they have the power to gong you off. So if the audience decide that they just don’t like the look of me then they could technically gong me off before I even get a chance to speak.

It’s an open mic comedy night where anyone can come along and have a go. Audience members are issued red cards, and when a certain number of cards is held up, the compare bangs a gong to indicate your dismissal.

I’m both excited and nervous about the idea of doing standup. Obviously the Young’uns gigs have an element of standup about them, but it’s very different to being on stage all by myself with the sole purpose of talking and being funny. There isn’t the safety net of two other people to spark off, nor do I have music to fall back on. But I’m keen to explore standup. It seems like the next logical step for me, and many people have said that they think I should do it, including some high-profile comedy people. So I’m giving it a go. We’ll see where it goes.

I’ve been deliberating about how much I should blog about my incipient standup efforts. If after a raft of gigs not a single person laughs then I may have to come to the conclusion that I’m completely unfunny. If I start blogging about my early standup experiences then I’ll have to broadcast that depressing and embarrassing conclusion to you all,, whereas it would be much safer to wait until I knew I was at least capable of doing a gig before I started publicising my standup. But there are benefits to blogging about my early standup attempts. Hopefully it might help keep me focused, ensuring that I do gigs in spite of my nervousness, as I’ll feel unable to back out of things if I’ve written about them in a blog. I could back out of this gig on Sunday, but now I’ve mentioned it in a blog post I’ve ensured that I won’t. So this blog can act as an empowerment tool for me, as I’d find it too embarrassing to have to admit that I lost my bottle and bailed out of doing a gig. I’m very concerned about what my handful of anonymous readers think of me.

I’m not sure what you’re more excited about: my impending standup gig, or the great reveal about my computer problem. Will it be the firewire chip? Or something else? This blog is really hotting up.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS