Sunday 24th September – Some gigs you can keep

On Friday night I was set to run a gig in Kirkcaldy for a Rotary Club. This was the fourth year in a row I had organised the comedians for the event, and I had confirmed all the acts were still coming a few days beforehand, so there wasn’t much to concern myself about it. However I received a cancellation from one of the acts a couple of hours before the gig. As the act was only down to do a ten spot the easiest thing was simply to stand in as a replacement.

I hadn’t planned the set much, but decided to play around with the order of jokes and do whichever ones came to mind while on stage. I have to say, the reception I got was fantastic, and was glad that the opportunity had presented itself.

The following morning I had a message asking me if I could provide support for a gig in Appleby–in-Westmorland. It was going to be 15 times the distance for less than half the money of the previous night’s gig, but decided it was good experience and worth it when considering the weekend as a whole.

It was almost completely dark when I got there. The venue was a castle and the parking was in the grounds some distance away down a track. The room itself was large and cold but with a low ceiling and pew style benches on three sides of the performance area, which was neither raised nor spot lit. There was a large portrait of a serious looking countess behind the performers, an even larger tapestry at the far end of the room, and a bar off the back down some large stone steps.

The biggest challenge was that the opener had been asked to also act as compere, so there were quite a number of factors not working in our favour. Unsurprisingly, the audience were not easy to warm up. I was the second section (the headliner being the third) and although I received a warm enough reaction, there were quite a few groans and a lot of people seemed to take a long time to get the punchlines.

Getting back to the car in the pitch black was a challenge. I got away from the gig at a reasonably early hour but found the route home 18 miles longer thanks to the slip road on the M6 being closed at the junction with the A66. Just the slip road, nothing else. So the diversion took me 9 miles further south just to get back onto the M6.

Sometimes it makes a whole lot more sense to only take a local gig, which can be more fun, more lucrative and far less time consuming, but then again, it’s not often I get to perform in a castle.