I have never done a comedy competition before as I've assumed the typical five minute slot will never be enough for me to pull the crowd into my raps enough to get them fully engaged. Recently though a monthly competition caught my eye. Ten minutes was promised with the winner gaining a paid headline spot at a future night. Just down the road from me, it seemed worth a punt.
The bar had a few groups sitting around tables when I entered but not exactly what you'd call an audience. Still, I figured things would improve and settled in with a pint. Five minutes before showtime there were a few more people in and I was sitting with some other acts checking the running order. The MC introduced himself and told us we were all doing fives. So much for breaking people in and the capitalising with a second song. Tonight it was to be full pelt from the off.
Lew Fitz was first on after the compere and was confident, off-hand and thoroughly entertaining. Trash talking various aspects of the venue resonated with the crowd and running with more improv than planned elements in his set he connected well. I dialled back my expectations on perhaps winning this little popularity contest.
Lew was followed by acts who missed more than hit and were more akin to what I thought I might find at an event promoted as a "new act night" (a phrase that in most circles simply means you aren't employed full time in comedy but here genuinely meant some of the acts had less than twenty gigs to their name).
The first half ended and a huge influx of people arrived, completely skewing the voting away from anyone who'd performed so far. I picked up a lime soda (so pro) and waited for my slot in the middle of the second.
The guy before me didn't completely die but the audience were far from warm when I took to the stage. When "do we all know what a first world problem is?" was met by mumbles and people checking their phones I prepared myself for a rough ride...
...which didn't happen. Once the music kicked in attention focussed on me and by the first chorus large chunks of the audience were doing their required claps. By the second a table of diners were dancing in their chairs. I rounded off to a decent applause and hopped off stage.
For the second time in a month the MC came on pretty much speechless and managed to do little more than introduce the next act. Which is where I watched my potential win come crashing down.
The guy after me wasn't terrible. A character act pretending to be a clueless Polish immigrant who confuses similar sounding words has milage but I'm a long standing fan of Gatis Kandis and this paled in comparison. The audience, however, loved it.
So come the end of the night Lew Fitz came third, I came second and the character act won. Credit is due to Lew - making the top three on the votes of less than half the potential audience is some achievement. As for me, well second is better than nothing but unless I write something more crude I don't think I'll ever win this competition.