And so it was that on a Tuesday evening I hopped on the DLR and made my way to Greenwich to join a pub full of rowdy locals for Funny That at the Morden Arms. Unlike pretty much any other comedy show I've performed at, this particular night didn't have its own room and had instead appropriated one corner of the small bar.
Initially, the locals didn't seem that impressed to have their drinking interrupted. However, Doug Gordon (pictured) was MCing and, for the most part, soaked up the abuse and random shouting on behalf of the performing acts. The crowd went easier on those that followed but by the time I was due on we were all very familiar with the names of the local characters/crazed alcoholics and their heckles. One particularly glorious gentlemen was, in essence, a strange hybrid of Father Jack and the guy who repeats himself endlessly on The Vicar of Dibley. However, he shook my hand afterwards and mumbled something positive sounding so I'll let him off.
Prior to me the acts had either gone with ignoring the background noise or abandoning their sets and taking the talkers head on. Given my set lives or dies on the interaction with the audience I had to pretty much combine the two. The start was unusual enough. I'm used to the usual "waaaaaay" when I reveal I'm a primary school teacher by day. However, here this fact resulted in a round of considered applause and someone shouting "well done". A positive, if unusual, start.
I launched with Tales of the Unexpected as I figured everyone, no matter how old or drunk, had been to the supermarket. Also, the pains of the self-checkout are usually most acute in those of a certain age. It actually worked and the crowd not only behaved but clapped in the right places too. Moving into West End they grew in enthusiasm. Granted, more than a few completely lost sense of all timing and just shouted the chorus randomly throughout the track. However, this at the very least ensured I got some practice in how to keep a song on the rails in the face of such fantastic ineptitude.
Afterwards one of my most out of time enthusiasts came up and told me I should have been on first to "lift the crowd". This was sweet but I'm glad I was last in the first half as I'd pity whoever would have followed me and been faced with a den of loons expecting to contribute regularly throughout their set too.
All the acts were pretty good tonight. Special mention to Jonny Gillam for a typically up front and combative closing set though. With a venue like this the last place you should remain is in your designated corner.
Thumbs up also to the students in the crowd who I had a beer with afterwards. Tonight I learned even 21 year olds can be avid followers of Peep Show when I assumed it would only be us past-it thirty somethings.