Comedy Virgins at Cavendish Arms, Stockwell

I think tonight was technically my first ever stand up show*? It didn’t feel like it, because I’ve been compering and doing character comedy at factually inaccurate, and of course sketch comedy and hosting before that. But the nerves were certainly real – exaggerated by initially being left off the scheduled line-up – and by an audience that broadly didn’t know me.

I must thank the kindness and support of my stand up course mates, two of whom also performed on the same bill. I lack internal motivation, so knowing they would be there really helped me take the thing seriously.

I’m aware that stand up is about honing down a really tight five minutes, so naturally I started mine by riffing on a previous comic’s act (calling a baby a cunt vs. saying cunt at a baby), announcing that I wasn’t going to do any jokes, then being mean about the concept of a “bringer” night (which comedy virgins is), and comparing it to a dodgy pyramid scheme in which every comedian has to bring four friends, who then brings four friends, and so forth forever.

I was on safer ground describing the Three English Noises – a lady at the front very sweetly went for “awwwww” rather than “ooooOOOOOhhhh”, which made me crease up momentarily, and was probably the highlight of my own personal evening.

I’m still too niche and I throw too many mines in front of me. I need to stop being bored by my own material, and end this strange urge to write something entirely new each time, or even when trying to memorise my own material. It’s a weird combination of arrogance and self-defeatism: oh I’m funny enough to write something completely new and still be the best. Oh if I don’t properly try then it’s fine if I fail.

Michael won the clap-off, as deserved: he’s a brilliant and charismatic comedian who has been carving his material down like some classical marble so that there’s a laugh every time you think, and you’re taken away without ever having to try. You have to try a lot with my stuff, and I should probably construct comedy a bit better before I start deconstructing it.

A special word for Drew too. He’s really been gigging hard and just improving his set week by week, so now it seems faintly effortless. But I know from the shows of his I have attended and the mutations and evolutions in his set that I have observed to know that this kind of effortlessness takes a lot of work.

Back to the drawing board methinks…


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