November 26, 2006
I am starting to get in the swing of how to listen to myself now.
Last night, the crowd reaction was significantly softer than the night before, and I knew it would be right from the start. Right from my ‘Hi’. The rhythms of the laughs were the same – strongest and weakest laughs all in the same place – but the overall intensity of their reactions was softer. I listened carefully to how the other performers went because I need to know how I fit into the general pattern of the night. I did notice that there were the same general trends through the night – not the intensity of the night before. But of course, it is much more noticeable when it is someone like me who only really has three guaranteed laughs in her routine.
Different nights do have different chemistries, and now I need to learn what to do about that. People with experience have stronger total performances and so their flat patches do not have such an impact on their overall performance as mine do. They do not lose the audience in the way that I might.
Lesson that is starting to sink in: it’s not all about the jokes.
So now I have two recordings of two reasonably similar performances done in close proximity to each other. The thing I need to learn from them is how to ride the audience reaction. To be ready for whateve response I get and to mould my show to them.
Didn’t drink anything after the show, but stayed too late listening to the chat. This is something I enjoy very much, because it is just so different to any other chats I ever have. Then watched quizmania when I came home. For an hour. For goodness’ sake.
November 25, 2006
So last night went really well. The break has done me good.
I spent last Sunday at the workshop with Rachel, and it gave me a few new ideas about preparing for the performance. I was pretty nervous about going on. An uncertain kind of nervous. And because of feeling so strange at the moment (only a few hours before I’d been at the doctor trying to work out why i’ve been feeling so dizzy for the last few weeks) I think I felt even worse. I used a few of the arm twirling things which seemed to work.
Funny thing though, the crowd really liked it, when I didn’t feel like I was giving my best performance. I felt like I was a bit too relaxed. But maybe that’s because I feel better with it. And certainly I did feel like I found the rhythm of the introduction. Chopped off the end, so I ended on a high. Which makes it even shorter than it was, but short and funny is better than long and not so.
So now, I’ve got to spend this afternoon working, and pretending that I can concentrate rather than having all my attention consumed by tonight’s performance.
PS One strange thing, at around 12 o’clock in the serious human rights workshop I was at a few Saturdays ago, my heart started to thump, my breath went short and my stomach lurched. And over lunch, I said to James ‘you know, I think I’ve got so in the rhythm of my Saturday nights that I’ve gone into performance mode without even meaning to’. And he said ‘I’m glad you said that, because I looked over at you and thought ‘she’s gone to a different place I wonder what’s happened”. So that’s weird, isn’t it?
November 5, 2006
What an awful night last night was. For me. Everyone else went so well, but I did not. It was the first of the Christmas nights, and the place was packed. And while I didn’t die, and I didn’t fall off the stage, I just didn’t work that well.
It’s time to move myself along a bit, time to write more stuff, find myself a routine, not just a couple of minutes of jokes. So, I’ve been spending time letting go of what I’ve got, thinking of new things to put in. Like when I was moving the novel from the first to the second draft. You almost have to start again. But not quite.
And the difference between writing a novel and writing a stand up script (or at least the most important difference for me at the moment), is that you don’t have to show the beginnings of the new draft to anyone.
For three months, I’ve been working to the same script line after careful, careful line. So adding pieces in threw me a bit. All day, I was filled with this idea that it wasn’t going to work. And so it didn’t. There is so much to learn. Learning to write, to perform, to go back on. Even when you think it was so, so awful and you never want to do it again.
I recorded my set last night. That’s the first time I’ve recorded it. The recording quality isn’t that good, but I listened to it in the car on the way home. And it wasn’t the car crash I thought it was. There are some good laughs coming through. But I have never fumbled a line before, and now I have to listen to it over and over again.
I won’t be on stage for a few weeks now. It will be good to give myself a break. On the other hand, having fallen off the horse, it is always good if you can get straight back on.