Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Night Out

Last week, I found myself billeted in close proximity to the Edwardian elegance of the Southsea King's Theatre.
I noticed there was a show by the Cornish comedian "Jethro" on Wednesday night.
I couldn't resist, and immediately snapped up a ticket at the box-office.
Support live comedy and all that kind of thing!
I was in the stalls quite near the front, and was enjoying feeling relatively youthful compared to the bulk of the audience.
The lights dimmed.
A bald man with a beard wearing jeans and a waistcoat walked on to the stage.
I assumed he was going to make sure the guitars on stage were in tune, before the arrival of Jethro.
I was wrong.
He immediately started singing the Bill Withers hit "Aint No Sunshine" to a pre-recorded backing track.
He had a pretty decent singing voice.
However, I was utterly hypnotised by the way he moved the mic away and back from his mouth during the song, depending
on whether he was at a quieter bit or a crescendo.
I've never seen microphone technique like it, and I've seen a lot of microphone technique in my time.
I used to get told to move the mic away a bit when I shouted into it, but decided to stop shouting, as I kept using the technique in reverse.
He got a polite smattering of applause, then said "Thank you, and this is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs ever written",
and then sang "Vincent" by Don McLean.
Just as he finished that song and started heading off stage, another man walked on.
I was surprised to hear him start telling jokes.
The reason I was surprised was that there was no recognition applause whatsoever in the fairly full theatre.
I was puzzled.
It all seemed very intros for anything...just a sequence of unannounced events.
Jethro's act was something of a mixed bag...
He has a number of undoubted belters, but also a large number of jokes which were likely shared by the crew of HMS Victory in the days leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar.
There were also a few uncomfortable moments in terms of
So anyway, a few weeks ago I was invited to appear in a Pro-Am Golf tournament at Prestonfield Golf Course in Edinburgh.
With a small crowd watching, the starter cheerfully announced
"next on the tee...Jim Park!"
ending with an upward inflection in the instantly recogniseable style of Ivor Robson, (who introduces all the players at the British Open).
I found this all very amusing, and it felt like the realisation of my dreams as a very keen, child golfer.
Unfortunately, I then hit possible the worst tee shot in the entire history of golf...the ball squirting off to the right and coming to a halt 50 yards from the tee.
My next shot was equally catastrophic.
I actually played quite well after that, but to the watching crowd on the clubhouse balcony, the damage had been done.
I was a rubbish golfer, unworthy of further attention.

I wondered at the time if this experience was a portent for my upcoming participation in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with Graeme Thomas in "Last Tango In Harris".
Well, not really....
I must admit that my main motivation for doing a Fringe show was to make money.
How's that for artistic integrity?
Of course, I'd hoped to improve as a comedian by doing a load of gigs in a short time period...but that was really just a bonus.
I wasn't really interested in reviews...(I've had many good reviews and many bad reviews, and find I neither get excited nor upset any more by the two extremes).
We hadn't put in a programme entry (possibly, in hindsight, a grave mistake), so we weren't likely to get much attention from reviewers anyway.
I thought 7.30pm would be a pretty good time, but early on in the run we had a lot of trouble finding an audience.
I had many theories on what the problem might be ;
Possibly people are more amenable to take in free shows during the day then maybe splash out on a higher profile "name" at night.
We also found that 7.30pm seemed to be the time when the restaurants in the are were at their peak of business.
Rick Molland thought that our flyer was a bit ambiguous, and that "Last Tango In Harris" could be construed as a "comedy play", which is a slightly harder sell than pure stand-up comedy.
The last few days were pretty busy though, and right through the run, the contribution per person was reassuringly high, even though the overall bucket donations were down on my original Fringe projections.
We only really had one bad show, and that was because the gig was wrecked by a bunch of arseholes who we had to stop the show and ask to leave.
Raymond Mearns did exceptionally well though, and he is the uber-flyerer of The Fringe.
My enjoyment and amazement at watching his unrivalled style, was slightly tempered by the fact that his show was on at the same time as ours!
But hey, I can still appreciate a master crafteman at work.