I spent Sunday night in Belfast with Josie Long, Gemma Hutton, Mark Thomas and Bridget Christie. We were doing a gig for the Pro-Choice campaign, the sort of issue that in Northern Ireland is seemingly more reviled by politicians than the public. The politicians believe the public are more conservative than they really are, at least if they are offered facts rather than propaganda and dogma. Those who bellow in the streets and hurl toy babies and foetuses at young women visiting the Marie Stopes may be a tiny group, but they are loud and visible.
The gig was a delight, with each one of us overrunning a little more than the last. I was in first, so only overran by about 5 minutes, Josie by about 10, and off we went. The entire night was a little bit longer than the average RSC production of Hamlet. Everyone on stage , including me, was overtly enjoying themselves. Each person promised they would do less than the last act, but when faced with delight, their timekeeping was elusive. It was a green room of delight. Despite the reputation of knifed spines that the comedy circuit sometimes has, there was no glinting steal here. We even watched some beautiful, tragic scenes of Zero Mostel.
After having one wobbly night in Caterham, it was good to be back on stage, excited, excitable and foolish. Two questionable gigs in a row can drag you into a quagmire of self doubt. The hit of failure is far more forceable than the back pat of success. When you succeed, you think you got away with it, when you fail, you think you’ve been found out.
You may have 200 great gigs in a row, but two failures close together, and you know it is over.
A mojo turned to dust.
A horror show, not horrorshow, that is inescapable.
It is yet another preposterous way of thinking.
Oddly, after posting the blog I wrote on the train from Caterham, I’ve had lots of feedback stating that my doom laden version of events were a delusion. It looks as if I have played that trick of writing about a bad gig solely to solicit compliments and lure approval.
And yet I really did feel that the set was dire. Is this another example of how we never see an objective picture of the world, but that our mind fills in so many details based on expectation and experience?
I went on expecting a battle. Having been used to greater noise at certain moments, when it was less, some white noise inner monologue obliterated all evidence of laughter. My ears then tuned in to any muttering, and though the low murmurings were, in reality, indistinguishable words, my mind made them into acerbic sentences of hate and boredom.
In my reality tunnel, I saw silence (and I mean I saw silence, it formed like lead astronaut helmets around each head).
So all in all, more self flagellation when not required. My fear of failure will create it even if it is apparently not there.
I have just read this review by Bruce Dessau of another fundraiser, and so it seesm it has nothing to do with whether you are eccentric or alpha, the ghost of silence can haunt even an arena comedian – http://www.beyondthejoke.co.uk/content/review-gq-extravaganza-hammersmith-apollo
Sometimes I scrutinise myself too much, then I start scrutinising my scrutinising, then I get dizzy. My trouble is, even when I am lost in the moment, a little bit of me is still looking on and, with a hint of disgust resembling the curdled mouth of a Duke finding lead shot in his Quail, mumbling, “look at you, lost in the moment, how preposterous.”
Too late for change now, and hell, it provides material.
I am not going in a flotation tank.
Dirty Book Club returns to London next week HERE
Your Culture is Ailing arrives in Northampton soon HERE