Last night I stood on a stage. Last night I stood on a stage that has had the great and the good of comedy on it. John Bishop, Sarah Millican, Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay. Last night I stood on a stage and tried to Beat The Frog.
Beat The Frog is an Open Mic Comedy night at the famous Frog and Bucket Comedy Club in Manchester. New comics get an opportunity to step into the arena Gladiator style and try and deliver 5 minutes of standup to an audience armed with cards without getting honked off. Last night the Frog and Bucket was my nemesis. Having failed to negotiate the steep staircase to the stage I launched into my act. I had managed to memorise five minutes worth of cutting edge observational comedy but two minutes into my set the horn was sounded and I was off. I never got to share my Angela Eagle joke or my tirade about getting older. My spot had been cut down on its prime. Was I disheartened? Hell no? Was I scared into not coming back hell no.
As I climbed off the stage all I felt was the belief that I would do better next time and this was just the beginning. I was the only woman on last night and the only thing it showed me was the process was arbitrary. I was proud I did it and it made me even more determined. Despite being voted off I stayed in the audience. I cheered as a fellow Social Worker took to the stage. He looked straight at me and pointed and asked the age old question “What’s the difference between a Social Worker and a Rottweiler?” Quick as a flash and without drawing a breath I shouted “you get your kids back off a Rottweiler” to howls of laughter from the audience and an incredulous look from the comedian. It was a super heckle but I genuinely thought I was helping out!!!! Moral of the story……..in a room full of comedians………write your own bloody jokes!!!!
Would I do it again? Hell yes. When? 26th September. Will I Beat The Frog? I have no idea. Am I giving up? Hell no. Things can only get better……….Nia Lloyd Williams is here to stay. Last night was only the beginning………………watch this space…….
It’s a month since Brexit and my how things have changed. We now have a new Prime Minister that has, so far, managed to make Margaret Thatcher seem positively cuddly. Theresa May elbowed her way into power and she is now strutting around as if she owns everyone and everything. I can’t say I have been overly aware of her in the past but the woman is pure evil. Her playground attacks on Jeremy Corbyn mark her out as the arrogant schoolyard bully she is. Getting into power b default she is arrogant and self assured.
I myself have been counting the cost since the brexit vote. To avoid being confused as Boris Johnsons love child I had to have an emergency haircut. When Michael Gove and Owen Smith came out of the woodwork I had to buy new glasses. The emergence of that moanng Minnie Angela Eagle made me ashamed to be gay and threatened to push me to Narnia and now Theresa May is Prime Minister I’m now considering a sex change.
Michael Gove disappeared and so did Angela Eagle, I’m told because Eddie Izzard wanted his dresses back! Now we are left with Jeremy Corbyn and a Welshman no ones ever heard of so I guess I face a move from Wales to Scotland (that’s a thought that Nicola Sturgeon is one of my not so secret crushes)
On a lighter note Monday sees me venturing to the teeming metropolis that is Manchester for the Beat The Frog Open Mic Comedy Competition. A Comedy Club with a real pedigree stars such as John Bishop, Johnny Vegas and Sarah Millican have all appeared here. I am trying desperately to memorise my set leaving enough space for any last minute topical stuff that might just turn up.
I have spent the last month or so in a state of frustration and near constant state of anxiety so my comedy spot is likely to be an explosive ranty type performance about life post Brexit. Speaking to my CPN the other day I realised that Standup and Performance Poetry is my only way of releasing my anger safely. So watch out Manchester you have been warned!!!!
So I will watch the developments with interest in this messed up world of ours, examine and have a rant, after all if you don’t laugh you cry, it’s a funny old world.
Love and light
This past week has been a myriad of activity for me and Sarah, my partner in crime. Being students of all things comedy we had a couple of opportunities to indulge in our new found passion.
On Friday last week we travelled to the beautiful town of Llangollen and our monthly fix of comedy at the Llangollen Comedy Club. This monthly fixture is usually compered by Leeds based comic Silky.
This month I was particularly excited to be in Llangollen as it was the first tour date for Canadian Comic Tanyalee Davies. I had previously seen this diminutive mirth meister on Live At The Apollo and had laughed till I cried so to be a ble to see her live was a joy.
Also on the bill that evening was Johnny Pellham and he entertained us with tales about his third (or was it his fourth?) nipple and the strange affliction of walking on tiptoes all the time.
The star of the show was Tanyalee Davies. She came on to the stage full of life and proceeded to deliver 20minutes of observational comedy that made me chuckle and she also challenged people’s preconceived ideas about ‘little people’ the list of no no’s included don’t pat us on the head and don’t pick us up!!! My favourite line was her announcing she was mixed race…….a white woman with a black woman’s booty…complete with actions!!!!!
Tanyalee Davies challenges you and dares you. She challenges you to look again at your prejudice and she dares you not to laugh.
i had the good fortune to meet up with Tanyalee after the show and found her to be a positive and thoughtful person who was quite willing to chat with a fledgling standup like myself. If you get a chance go see her………..she’s a Big Deal and the real deal.
Last night it was my privelige to go to a fundraiser for refugee support arranged by a friend in the lovely rural community of Cwm Penmachno in North Wales. There was good food and good company. Nestled in the hills and dramatic landscape of a former quarrying village musicians poets and stand up comedians gathered together to have a good time and raise money to help others.
We decided to attend this event on a whim. Our plans to attend a comedy night in nearby Ruthin had changed and we were interested to go exploring in a place we hadn’t really been before.
We set off in Bridget our little car with a full tank of petrol and pointed her in the general direction of the hills. We drove across wild country in dramatic weather heading higher and higher up on to the desolate Denbigh moors with only sheep and Radio2 for company. The road was deserted, the landscape desolate as we pushed forward towards our evenings entertainment. We dropped down from the dramatic landscape of the Denbigh moors and joined the A5 at Penterfoels. This was announced by a brown heritage sign to be a historic route. I couldn’t help but imagine the myriad stage coaches of old that travelled this road in the past.
We pushed on along the road towards Betws Y Coed. We turned off the A5 and ventured again up into the hills. The road was narrow and we suddenly came across a small village seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The road became peppered with buildings in dark imposing stone. A village that had obviously been very busy in the past now almost asleep. This was Penmachno. We had not, however, reached our destination as our goal lay three miles to the west in Cwm Penmachno.
As I was driving I was reminded of a former visit to this area in another time. I remembered the geography, half remembered my former visit. After what seemed like an age we found our goal. A converted chapel which had now become a community centre.
Parking was at a premium and we nestled our little car next to a hedge. We walked over to the community centre and sat outside surveying the scene in front of us. Facing the chapel was a great big hill dotted with sheep and lambs. The wind spoke to us as it poured over the mountains and we watched as the lambs held wacky races on the hillside. It was beautiful. Desolate beautiful and like stepping back in time. This was what the North Wales heartlands looked and sounded like.
We then went in. We were met with the smells of barbecue and hot dogs with onions as above us we could hear the faint sounds of the night entertainment. There was a brass band, a ukulele choir a story teller and a dulcimer player. The audience was kind and generous. Children played in the centre and adults enjoyed the food and the alcoholic beverages the had brought with them to enhance the night.
It felt like being at an exclusive house party with small gaggles of people chatting and enjoying the evening. Right here in this small rural ex quarrying community they came together to raise money for the Syrian Refugees a small community reaching out to another community a world away. It was an honour to be there and reminded me so much of village life when I was growing up when the community would come together in the Village Hall to entertain each other. Heck we even had our own sound engineer when I was growing up a farmer whe as a sideline provided pa equipment and microphones for all the village events.
i am proud to say over £700 was raised in Cwm Penmachno last night from this event. Real people doing their bit for other people. It was a perfect antidote to the insular nature of current society blaming refugees for our problems. The people of North Wales did their bit and I was so proud to be a part of it. In the words of Wolfie Smith POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!! because it’s the people who know best…….those in charge are so corrupt the can never be trusted
I have just returned from a couple of days away in London. Whilst there I had the opportunity to attend a Comedy for Depression gig at Union Chapel in Islington. As a student of all things comedy I placed myself in the line of fire in the front row.
There were many comedians on the bill but the one I was most interested to see was Stuart Lee. Now Stuart Lee has an impressive reputation as a ‘good’ comedian and his fans love him. I feel he is a bit like Marmite you either love him or hate him. My overwhelming feeling on the night was that he didn’t make me laugh but he was interesting and clever. Many of the individuals in the audience were roaring with laughter at his anti comedy set but I merely sat there rather bemused and impressed by his sheer audacity and technique in deconstructing comedy in front of our eyes. Is this what would happen if a rogue magician broke the magic circle code an showed us how tricks worked? As an aspiring Standup myself can’t help but think that Stuart is ruining it for the rest of us by showing how the mechanics of comedy work but he’s been doing it for years and he boldly stands there daring you not to laugh. If you don’t laugh he will summise that you are far too stupid to understand the joke. As no one wants to knowingly seem stupid they laugh. Stuart is a master of this game and uses his audience to good effect ranging from conspiratory sharing to utter contempt of the little people. He doesn’t need to be liked like most comedians he simply plays with the audience and fully explains what he’s doing. I would like to see him live again if it is just to see what he will get away with next!
Another comedian that appeared that night was John Robertson a Peter Stringfellow lookalike from Australia complete with New Rock Shoes. He exploded on to the stage in a ball of rage like a 19th century fire and brimstone preacher (very apt as the gig was in a large chapel) He dispensed with the microphone and proceeded to tell us what he hated about the Brits. He was like a one man tsunami. As I was sitting in the front row I tried not to meet his gaze as this mans unhinged madness seemed to reach to the very back of the auditorium. I was left breathless by his energy and laughed out loud at his observations.
So what did I learn from all this? Standup Comedy is a very individual thing. To perform it you need to develop a stage presence that is unique to you whether it be friendly banter, disinterested delivery or out and out crazy. The important thing is connection with the audience. For the most part the audience does not want to have to think about things, they need to be spoon fed eg attitude set up and delivery. Only when these are secure can they be manipulated a la Stuart Lee.
For me standup is therapy. My 10minutes to get my own back on the world to share my thoughts to an audience. I have found that I get most laughs when I am ranting which bypasses my generally laid back persona.
Comedy is a serious business and is hard work…………..but it’s a great laugh