“Tis the season for the folly, bla bla bla bla bla….”

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                 Three gigs, three visits to hell, and there’s still two weeks (and 7 gigs) to go. There could have been FOUR visions of hell, except that after the first disaster in Leicester, I was sent home the next day. They let me stay in Glasgow after this last Friday’s debacle, but even with a change in the running order, things went from bad to awful mere seconds after I got on. If it weren’t for the knowledge that most of the other clubs have had many of the same problems, unruly crowds with comics bailing after 10 minutes, I might have volunteered to send MYSELF home.

                   The Christmas shows at the leading comedy clubs have been a staple for a good 15 years now, where the clubs urge companies to have their Christmas do there, and the room is usually full of drunken revellers, sometimes as many as 100 from one office or firm, who have paid inflated prices for special dinner, drink, comedy show, and dancing. The profits from the higher cover are passed on to the comics, who are paid 1 1/2 times regular wage, and the number of shows are extended to as many as 6 a week. And at what price? Well, our egos have frequently taken a bit of a bruising, but the bulk of the shows would come and go without any major obstacles. I’m not sure what has happened this year, but I have yet to see anyone leave the stage feeling better than when they entered it.

                    I haven’t done a full slate of Christmas shows for a couple of years, but how did it go so wrong in that time? In the past, there would usually be one night for me where they just did not like what I had to offer, and I would either encounter apathy, hostility, or complete unawareness that anyone was on stage at all. I’ve encountered all that and more so far this year. Friday’s show in Glasgow was spoiled very simply by a front table of about 15 drunk idiots who created a gulf between me and the remaining 100 or so who seemed genuinely interested or entertained. This past Saturday had no concrete explanation for what went wrong, just that it did so in a big fat hurry.

                  After getting word that I was going to be moved from closing spot to second, which I was hoping for, I got to the gig with a bit of a renewed confidence and optimism. That spirit remained until about 12 minutes into the first act, when I sensed he was losing focus. By the time he was done, he had maybe half of the crowd of 200 still with him. Then, in a deed that bordered on sabotage, the emcee took the stage and did absolutely NO time before bringing me up, leaving me with a room where the majority were unsettled and not ready for another act. There was nowhere to go but down, as it seemed I couldn’t get ANYONE’s attention, and once I pulled out the guitar, the audience took that as a signal to talk LOUDER. As one bit after another bit the dust, for the first time in I don’t know how many years or thousands of gigs, I truly felt I had nothing to say. As if we were reading each other’s minds, the show manager waved the “wrap-up” light just as I was preparing to call it a night and cut my losses. I may have then set a personal record for “shortest time between leaving the stage and leaving the club.” 

                  What made me abandon all thought of jumping in front of a fast moving train was dropping by the other Glasgow venue before going back to the hotel, and discovering equally as undisciplined a crowd (albeit smaller) enduring an interval that surpassed 45 minutes by the time I left the place. That’s a LOT of extra drinking time.  

                      As for my own misfortunes, I’m not going to blame anybody or thing, not Mercury in retrograde, or the lunar eclipse, or the Taliban, or Barack Obama, or David Cameron. I can sit there and say “Well, if I’d done X & Y instead of Y & X,” but no, there are just times when what I do is not what they want, and I’ve had the misfortune to have a year’s worth of crap gigs in one week. I remind myself that sandwiched in the middle of this mess were two marvelous gigs in London and Belfast, with proper audiences who came to be entertained, not people who spent a lot of money to get pissed, and if they’re entertained it’s almost a fluke. 

                      Unless I’m told otherwise, I’ve got 7 more of these shows to do in the next two weeks, one in London, two in Leeds, and four in a yet-to-be-determined venue. Then again, the venues could just say, “Merry Christmas, Rick, now fuck off,” and the worst pain I’d feel would be financial. Christmas is a time for love and family and friends. I’m looking forward to THAT part of the holiday season, but since I’m working through the 23rd, it has to stay on hold for a bit. Bah, humbug!     


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