Tuesday night I get a phone call.
"Hey, it's your brother. Dad's down on Thursday and I can get us all free tickets for a big comedy gala in Croydon. Are you for it?"
"Sorry, I'm booked in for Hilarity In Shoes that night."
"No problem, we'll come to that instead."
And so it was that on Thursday night approximately 18 new/ish comedians performed to each other, my brother, my dad and a random Statistician at The Lion in Stoke Newington.
What I've always loved about HiS in the atmosphere. More like a social club than a gig, the atmosphere is good natured and people have free reign to try something new. After a quick pep talk from MC Matt Duwell we were off at speed. And I really do mean that.
Usually, you see, a new act / new material night is characterised by people ploughing through new material, often with notepad in hand, until the MC starts waving their mobile phone at them or something similar to let them know their time is up. Seven acts in, however, and no-one had done their full time. When Dangerous T decides he'd rather do his new bit then hop off you know the night may not be quite as long as you'd first predicted.
This all changed when I stepped up as the final act in the first half and after a bit of chat and an experimental use of a chair and table (sat on the stage for no apparent reason) as a virtual checkout to kick off Tales of the Unexpected I forgot the first line of the verse. Twenty seconds later I was still stood on stage with the backing track hammering, my dad and brother watching expectantly and my mind in a complete fug. It turns out that if you forget the first line it's almost impossible to pick up this track until you hit the chorus. And in the this song the chorus is a long way off.
So I did something I've not done before. I made a half-joke about how my attempt at spontaneity with the table and chair had completely thrown me off and reset the track. This was not going to be a short set.
The track started again. This time I didn't use the table and chair and talked about why as the lead-in music played. I hit the verse this time and we were off. Well, until the second verse when I forgot half of that too. This was less of an issue though as by this point it was beginning to look like I was playing some kind of convoluted in-joke so I just rolled with it.
The audience were laughing. Possibly at the song. Possibly at me ballsing up the song. Possibly a mixture of the two. Tales... ended and there was a far too generous round of applause. I moved into Shuffle and Stop.
I don't know Shuffle and Stop half as well as my other tracks on account of it being the newest. However, whatever gremlin had invaded my brain for track one had gone by this point and I delivered the whole thing as intended. The 99% comedian room were self conscious to the point of nervous laughter at the, admittedly, huge amount of audience participation I demand in the track but where the wheels could have fallen off I could always here my brother shouting, clapping and doing whatever else was required. For this I will always be grateful. The track stopped. I got off and finally relaxed to enjoy the second half of the show.
The Statistician told me I was his second favourite act of the night as I was leaving. Given my brother and dad had left at the interval I guess that represents 100% of the real audience. Thumbs up, the mission continues.