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Tuesday, April 20

Warm and Fuzzy

Well, it's the day after the night before. Conversely, it's the day before the night after, and the afternoon preceding the evening before the night after the night before the morning of the afternoon that's being discussed. I know it's a cliché to put it that way, but clichés often represent the most efficient way of saying something, so the afternoon preceding the evening before the night after the night before the morning of the afternoon that's being discussed is how I'll describe when now happens to be. I'm on the outside of 3 cups of two-shot coffee and I have some fizzy water to drink in a minute.

If I'd taken time away from my busy schedule to muse on the subject of chronology, then I think it would be pretty pointless, even for me. I'm in a funny old mood, though, so please bear with me. I'm even wondering why I even bought the album I'm presently listening to Lemar's "Time To Grow". I rather like one track on this album. Hold on... I'll just listen to that... there we are. I can listen to something else afterwards.

I should really write that song I meant to write about there being only one good track on most CDs...

Anyway, this blog isn't about material I haven't written. I went to my great white office earlier and penned this:

So come on, safe surf
Don't be a dick
Put on a condom on your mouse
And wash you hands between each click

Come on, safe surf
It has to be done
You have to get your vaccinations
Before you visit Amazon

Take precautionary procedure
Before you visit Wikipedia
And question your mental health
If you are Googling yourself

It's the tail end to a song I start on this blog here. Now all I have to do is assemble them into a single document, learn it, record it, and be happy.


Even that's just a distraction from the real big even in my life. The sodding show. If I am obsessive enough about this show (which show? Why the Seven Deadly Sings of course) then it will be the success I really want it to be. In short, there's no substitute for the combination of hard work, inspiration and listening that makes good comic writing/performing. If I am too obssessive about it, I will alienate everyone close to me and become too miserable to enjoy the process. As they sing in Avenue Q - "It's a fine fine line". Interestingly, that's also the motto of the local microscopic pen shop... or... well, there's a host of other punchlines you could write there.

I'm deliberately trying to have a day off the show today, except I can't because I woke up with one of my songs running round my head, and I keep thinking back to last night and what needs to be done to the show to convert it from an uppy and downy preview into a solid and tight machine of humour.

There's an interesting effect when you work on an hour-long show like this. At first, it feels foreign and blethery... because it is... then, as you go along, it starts to get smaller and smaller and the pace gets right and you always feel close to yet another highlight and... well, it becomes like a tool you can use to make laughter. At least, that's how I felt with The Seven Deadly Jokes and The Musical! The big difference here is that I'm doing this one on my own, which is a new experience.

Given that I'm ostensibly quite a control freak, it's odd that I should feel so odd being in total control of every work. Perhaps I benefit from a more collaborating writing process... or perhaps it's a confidence issue. The good thing is that I turn out to be not too worried about listening to the audience. There will always be some jokes that I defend on the basis of "it makes me feel gleefult to say this", but in general, I often don't see the point in beligerently continuing with something which has proven not to come out funny with audiences. I fear that the inexperienced me who wrote my early sets and took ages to get to a hardcore of comic material in the early years may still have a voice when I write new stuff. But if I use the audience as my collaborator/editor, then it will actually be different. Which is good.

It really is a trip into the unknown when you put a new show together in the way I've been doing it. Instinct plays a part... and the ability to sell something on stage is another key player. What I hope to achieve is something that's interesting and funny. That's a hell of a goal and many people have tried and failed. I plan not to fail. So, I am going to have to be prepared to re-draft and even hit the delete key, like an angry cyberman might.

Luckily, I had the chance, last night, to do a live rehearsal of my "show". The audience were interesting as they were both ideal and sub-ideal. They were ideal because they contained some big-laughers who were trying to find it funny. They were sub-ideal because they were relatively small in number (which also reduced my fear of failure) and because they were sitting in a bar late at night (10.30) being presented with something they aren't used to being presented with - a one hour long show which rattled along regardless of how much they might need a wee, drink or cigarette.

The people of Stafford gave me exactly the feedback I needed as I went along. They were patient with me and didn't mind too much as I sweated my way through the hour of blether in my black folder. I was sweating through being hot, rather than nervous. I felt quite good about it, though there's a lot of work still to do to get to "polished".

On top of the audience response, there was also the feedback from the three acts present, whom I'd asked for notes. They took this to mean "offer me some new punchlines". I shall take this as a good sign, as their suggestions were relatively non invasive. There wasn't much in the way of "jeez - why did you even think that was remotely funny", which is good. We did a quick zip through the material and in some cases, I felt good about the idea of cutting some of the lesser stuff. The show ran to 62 minutes last night, which is still about 5 minutes longer than I'm comfortable with, but I can make some good cuts and then it will be there.

So, I left Stafford at a late hour and got home somewhat later. I've discovered what a royal pain the arse my set up is going to be, since I have a piano, guitar, 4 FX pedals and a whole bunch of props to get in the right configuration before we start. I'm also uncertain about using my mobile phone as a portable sound FX player, but I think it's probably the simplest way of getting everything to work.

Last night was a major effort for me, but I'm glad of having done it. I haven't been that nervous about a show in a long time. It turns out that the opening song really worked for the audience and so I shall now assume that the show has a strong opening, regardless of future audience response (as sometimes self-belief can make it possible) and this will help a lot. It was nice to hear that song with the laughter track. They got it more than I thought they would.

Hell, even the last song worked and that's actually quite a weird one.

So, thanks for being my comedic collaborator, people of Stafford. Now it's back to the editing room for me.

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