Saturday night review

March 3, 2007

Last night went really well. Tried my new big joke – went off. Unfortunately, my other new big joke which worked at Raw barely raised a snicker last night. I’ll try it again next Saturday and see how it goes. Last line: Gold.

I was excessively nervous last night. There are different types of nervous. I’m always nervous, but sometimes there is a particularly intense nervous. I think I probably felt that way last night, because I knew I was making the act move to a new level. And because I’d done a bit of work on it I needed it to go well. It wasn’t killer, but it was solid. I feel like I’ve got a routine now, a character is developing. The audience have something on-going and substantial to listen to. It’s going well.

In other news, there was a new guy there last night who is also in the Raw semi-finals. He was brilliant. Listening to the Raw gossip, it was a good reminder to me that if I’m going to keep enjoying it as I have done until now, I need kust keep taking it as it comes.  It’s a competition, people lose, and sooner or later one of those people will be me.

That car race is on today.


Saturday routine

March 3, 2007

Tonight will be only my second night back at the club this year. Plus I’ve done my Raw heat. It’s not much practice. I have a beating heart and sweaty palms and have had for about six hours now. I feel like I should eat, but I don’t know what will help. And listening to the raw podcasts hasn’t helped. My heart is beating even faster now than it was.

I wasn’t sure about entering Raw. Mostly because it is supported by the youth network and I am hardly what you’d call a youth. But it was a beautifully supportive atmosphere. And even without winning the heat, I had an excellent night. I felt good being on stage, I got a good vibe. I really, really enjoyed it which was something I was forgetting how to do.

So I’ve made a bit of a resolution to do some good strong work on my script and get myself a good routine going and try some other clubs and audiences. Take my comedy serious.

It’s hard though. Comedy writing is so different to the other writing I’ve done. I’m so used to sitting in front of the computer and going over and over my sentences and paragraphs word by word. In silence. To write comedy, you need to leave the computer behind, you need to talk out loud. Even with only myself as an audience I feel self-conscious. I don’t want to speak unless I know it’s going to work, and it’s not going to work unless I say it out loud. Still, I’ve learnt to do it with my other writing – just start banging away – so I’ll guess I’ll learn it with this too.

Then there’s the ever-difficult problem of finding the time. This year, I’ve only had two days when both the boys have been in school/preschool/child care, and because writing comedy is harder to do with other people around – I feel quite self-conscious as I said – I can only really do it when I’ve got the house to myself. I might have to get over that somehow.

And finally, I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about making sure my stuff doesn’t sound like anyone else’s. Reading a how-to book which is liberally dotted with (credited) examples of jokes and gags and concepts, I discovered that one of my best jokes – in fact, one of my lynchpin jokes – has already been written and has been widely-used by an extremely famous comedian for quite some time. Fark.

Now, I did write that joke myself. One day when my partner came home, and he said how was your day out came the joke and that was before I had done any stand-up. He even remembers it. But I don’t reckon that’s gonna cut the mustard as a defence. Nor is pointing out that I’m as eldest-child-play-by-the-rules as they come. So I’ve cut the joke and written something new into that part of my routine. It does the job, but it is nowhere near as good as the original joke (which I guess wasn’t that original after all). I don’t suppose I’m not the only one it has happened to and I won’t be the last. As everyone says there are no new ideas. And my partner says I should be happy because it shows I know how to write good jokes. And I guess better that I found out that way than that someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘erm, you do realise there’s One Golden Rule, don’t you? Don’t nick jokes’.

Meanwhile, Raw has started to swirl around in the back of my mind. But there’s tonight to get through first. Right everyone, out of the house.

So I’m left with a routine of around 2 minutes (or maybe 3)

December 22, 2006

So, pity I haven’t been keeping this journal as well as I was supposed to be…things got a bit flat there for a while. I didn’t seem to be making any improvement, and it felt a bit frustrating and was starting to get me down. And last night, everyone was having a good night except me. They have been Christmas work shows for the last eight or so weeks (of course) which makes the audience even more unpredictable. For someone like me who is still pretty hit and miss at best. There have been a few good nights (for me, I stress again, most of the others are having pretty much good nights all the time), but last night wasn’t one of them. You can tell you haven’t had a good night when none of the others look at you when you come off. I was feeling bad about it all day. Just felt like it wasn’t going to work. I think by now that I am so aware of my flat spots and somehow – even though there’s more good bits than flat bits – they have grown to take over how I feel. I even bore myself when I’m up there. Obviously, it showed. Even a couple of my never-fails, failed.

I slunk home, and thought about giving it all away.

And then, when I was getting ready for tonight, I thought: nah, just get rid of that front section. Lose the introduction. Like it’s clever and all that, but it really isn’t funny. I have been trying to tell myself just get through this part of the year, then close that off, then come back to it all next year. But I thought (bravely) just get rid of it now.

But then, when I was rehearsing on the way in, I realised that I’ve got a tiny callback to the intro (also not working) and goodness me I couldn’t possibly make two changes in one night. So I should just go ahead and stick to my script even though I know it’s not going to work.

But then, sitting around beforehand, coach man said ‘we just need to try and work out why they’re not reacting to you the way they should’ and I said ‘I thought about losing the first bit’ and he says ‘try it’ and I said ‘oh, but I haven’t rehearsed’ and he said ‘try it, they can’t hurt you can they, like not physically’.

And so I did. And it was much smoother. And I felt better about being on stage. And I wasn’t boring and a bit of the spark was back. And I could feel them listening to me again.

So, lesson from tonight: if you think you have an idea about how to fix something, just go right ahead and do it. Because if what you’re already doing isn’t working anyway, what does it matter if what you try to do to fix it doesn’t work either?

Am tempted to go and watch quizmania, but there’s still the food for Christmas to be bought tomorrow, so I really should go to sleep.

Things are starting to make sense

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.

back again

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?

Cars and horses

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.

If all else fails go to officeworks

October 30, 2006

Today, I spent too much money at officeworks, buying stationery and other tools to help me write comedy. Writing jokes that you are going to say aloud in front of a whole bunch of people is so different to writing stories which people are going to sit quietly by themselves and read.

So I have one large whiteboard, two small magnetic whiteboards, and the whiteboard starter pack (four textas, a ‘duster’ and the spray you need to use after you’ve used the textas for a long time). I also bought yet another pack of index cards. Because I seem to need to buy a new pack of index cards once every five years or so.

I also had to buy a packet of red dot stickers in exchange for the four year old’s silence.