Crown The Knave at The Bedford (Tuesday)
My new day job is currently giving me long hours so after an extended day there I was pleased to be hopping on my horribly cheap thief-deterring "bar bike", parking up at Walthamstow Central and tubing it to Balham for Janet Bettesworth's Crown The Knave.
Hosted at The Bedford, the show took place in a slightly run-down side room at odds with the rest of the bar. The lights were bright and you had to go outside to go into the main room to get your drinks and chunky chips but the line-up looked strong and I was getting paid so I prepared myself for a really good night.
As nights go it was pretty good, with the vibe of an offbeat open-mic the evening was opened by a blues band who then gave way to a string of comedians performing to each other and a small but perfectly formed real audience. I saw Madge Hooks for the first time in ages and Daniel Offen showcased some new material.
The food theme of the night was largely ignored by those performing but I did my best by performing Foodie alongside Tales of the Unexpected. I remembered all the words this time and the way people in the audience mis-timed their "Hey!"s was comedy gold in itself. However, it's still not there compared to the other tracks and I'll need to do it a few more times before it really beds in.
Before the end of the night I'd failed to win anything in the raffle but had eaten a delicious flapjack made by Janet herself. All that was left to do was to hop on the tube with JB Carter and make my way back to bike theft central.
Unsurprisingly, no-one had stolen my crap bike.
Clash of the Tight-Tens (Friday)
For the first time ever, my Tight Tens line-up didn't feature a set by myself. Partly because I'd forgotten to reserve myself a spot, partly because I just wanted to relax, it was another great night with people far too talented to be doing pay-what-you-like on a Friday night. Yuriko Kotani, Nathan Cassidy, Daniel Offen and Rosie Holt all put in appearances alongside MC Andy Onions (pictured). The audience wasn't as big as I'd expected but was still a very much respectable size.
This show appears to be doing quite an important job for the bar as it was busy enough when I arrived, dead when I dropped down during the interval and then busy again around 10.30pm. Having a quiet bar doesn't hurt of course as anyone who does come in inevitably goes where the people are and come in for the show. This lead to a real comedy highlight just before Daniel took the stage where four very drunk women decided to up and leave and as they walked out the door another three less drunk people walked in and replaced them like some kind of audience tag-team.
All that was left to do after the show was pack and buy everyone a drink for their efforts.
People For Change Charity Fundraiser @ Dark Sugars, Brick Lane (Saturday)
10am Saturday morning and I'm in bed recovering from the drinks the night before. The phone goes off and it's a Facebook message from a musician I'd performed alongside at Once Upon A Mic earlier this year asking if I could step into a comedy spot at a charity fundraiser that night abandoned by an act, "who may have had a nervous breakdown." Not one to turn down such opportunities I agreed and got myself down to Brick Lane for 5pm.
Dark Sugars is a very cool authentic-looking chocolate shop halfway down Brick Lane with the tiniest of bars in the back. Behind the bowls of raw chocolate slabs and intricate fancies a PA had been set up and a projector was running through images of African children receiving education and healthcare. It turned out the whole thing was running late so I decamped for food before returning to see a small number of people largely ignoring a music act who'd been selected to kick things off.
Following the music the event organisers spoke about the project they were involved in and the room filled considerably. Four speakers later I was announced on stage as, "a comedy music kind of act," and jogged up to open with a carefully prepared line about how rapping about first world problems really highlights how trivial our problems are compared to those in the developing world. Potential offensive opening disaster averted.
Given how the first act had gone down I was prepared for the worst but having opened with my little speech the 30 or so people in the room were prepared to give me their undivided attention. Tales of the Unexpected, with it's sniping about supermarkets, hit home in an independent business venue. We were rolling. One Shot also went well, the shop also served coffee so taking a swipe at Starbucks was never going to hurt. I finished with Shuffle and Stop and the crowd had swelled by this point to numbers that ensured the call and response couldn't fail. I left to cries of "encore" but my voice was packing up so I retired to the back for a drink and a de-brief with my girlfriend.
So far it's just Bear Jokes on the cards but you never know what might happen...