Sunday, 30 October 2016

Thirty Minutes in Cambridge

Organised by Paul Richards (pictured), who I met at Edinburgh Festival, this packed to bursting point gig at The Red Bull in Cambridge was one I'd been looking forward to ever since it was booked. Not far from where my brother now lives I combined it with a family visit and come 7.30pm we arrived to find a nice pub with people already taking their seats in the upstairs room for the 8pm start.

The venue turned out to be the local for Rory McGrath and he was indeed in the audience when things kicked off. After some manic cajon based sing-a-longs with Paul, Izzy Rees did a ukulele powered ten minutes to a warm reception.

Adam Skuse was up next for fifteen with enough profanity to ensure his set was unlikely to ever be broadcast anywhere. His observations and musings kept the crowd laughing, particularly when he delved into the darker recesses of his mind. 

Mic handed back to Paul, I was then introduced and I launched into a five song set which is, to all intents and purposes, the work in progress for my Edinburgh 2017 show. Gone are the references to primary teaching but the formula otherwise remains pretty much the same. Presenting the set as my top 5 first world problems was effective and the crowd were more than willing to participate in the madness. Two verses in they were still rocking their arms back and forth to Selfie Stick - which is about a verse and a half more than any time before.

Thirty minutes later they and I had definitely had a pretty substantial work-out and it was down to the bar before heading home with my brother at the wheel - tired to the extent only possible of a parent with a one year old. At the bar I got plenty of congratulations and Rory called the set "superb". One for the comedy CV.

So what have I learned from gigs in Watford, Liverpool, London, Brighton and Cambridge this half term?

1. Watford books shops are actually really good places for a Friday night of comedy.
2. Liverpuddlians are huge comedy fans, even on a Sunday night, and love it rude and raucous.
3. Famous First Words is as thoroughly random and unpredictable as when I left it. 
4. Gigs in Brighton can be as light on "real" audience as in London despite a quality line-up.
5. Cambridge audiences are awesome.
6. Gigs outside of London are untainted by the grim realities of comedy in the capital - such as seemingly limitless amounts of acts on in a single night or the dreaded requirement for the acts to bring their own audience.
7. Train journeys are a great opportunity to write if you book a seat with a table and plug socket.
8. The difference in quality between two rooms in two cities costing approximately the same can be absolutely vast.
9. Soundcheck before you go on.
10. My sets work best with at least three songs.

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