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.