Sunday evening new act nights don't look like this in London.
Having rocked up at 2pm this afternoon for drinks with my Mersey-based cousins I'd then walked around the city and then continued work on my new track back at my budget-friendly hotel-come-student hall room. Shared bathroom and broken desk lamp aside, very much worth the £29.
Come 7.30 I walked down to the Holiday Inn and found the 50 capacity room filling. By 8pm kick-off every seat was taken and the affable MC was doing some kindly crowd work before launching into the £3-a-head night featuring 7 new acts doing 10 minutes each.
I closed the first half after two acts putting in fair sets. The crowd were a nice enough bunch but were more tepid than warm. Tales of the Unexpected went down well once the music/vocal balance had been worked out part-way through the track but I could see that I was probably convincingly winning over about two thirds of the room. My voice was breaking from time to time thanks to the far from perfect state of my throat at the moment, which didn't help.
Given the crowd size I opted to go with One Shot for the second song (where I split the room for different parts) and though I couldn't give it the welly I wanted to the crowd fell in with me by the second chorus and by the end pretty much everyone had shouted their part. The MC came back on with "Fucking hell, wow, it's time to go to the bar and keeping singing those songs". As reactions go, I'll take that. During the interval one of the acts that preceded me commented that he was glad he hadn't had to follow me as I'd "built the room's energy up so high." Again, something I'll take as a positive.
From a critical point of view though I'd have to say my performance was a 7-8/10 at best. My croaky vocals and only tacit connection with the audience, at least initially, ensured I didn't proverbially "smash the room" and left pretty certain no Friday or Saturday night slot will be forthcoming for the time being.
Still, as learning experiences it was invaluable - not just as a performer but also to see how a small club can grow to running three shows a week and be in the process of building their own dedicated theatre space in the space of six years. There's a lot to learn from Hot Water Comedy when it comes to putting on a low cost night that doesn't feel like one and has a consistent crowd free of gremlin gimmicks like bringer policies or huge bills of 5 minute slots.
One of the promoters is performing at Clash of the Tight-Tens next month. It'll be interesting to see what he makes of it.