I spent most of my day listening to myself performing "We're All Going To Die!" Like most performers I do not enjoy watching or listening to myself because all I can see and hear are the mistakes and my stupid annoying voice. But it feels like ages since I've performed this show and luckily I did remember to record it last time I did it (though accidentally deleted the entire first half of the show, but had a recording from Edinburgh that covered most of that). So I listened to myself in the morning and then again when I was doing my run and then again in the car on the way to the Warwick Arts Centre and then again in the dressing room. Some of the show seemed very unfamiliar and I was genuinely worried about grinding to a halt on stage, but although I messed up the first line of the show and forgot a tiny bit of the stuff I say to Hamlet, I think it mainly came back to me.
I think I probably looked a bit crazy running through Hammersmith, mouthing the script to myself and often providing accompanying hand signs (though luckily I am not doing the schoolyard gay hand gestures in this show), though with my headphones in, I realised, people might think that I was just on the phone to someone. Though it would have seemed like an odd and one sided conversation. But the advent of mobile phones does mean that it's now much harder to spot the crazy self-talkers, which has added benefits for the sane (and crazy) comedians and actors learning their lines.
For the last couple of years I have played the bigger room at the Warwick Arts, but this year I was relegated back to the studio. Hopefully that's not indicative of any greater trend in the decline of my already limited appeal. It seemed an odd choice to me. I didn't sell out last time, but sold substantially more tickets than the studio holds (over 300 according to my blog). And this 130 seater room sold out almost immediately months ago (though confusingly the venue added more seats this week). I like this venue and the staff were excellent and helpful and enough people turned up to make things worthwhile, but it was a shame that one of my usually bigger gigs had become one of the smallest. And then fears set in that all this meant that my time has passed (again). But that would be to ignore the general upswing in ticket sales (especially with the Leicester Square Theatre based stuff). And even if the bottom has fallen out of my audience, as long as 100 people come to all my shows then I can at least carry on doing them.
Then again it was probably a good thing to dip my toe back in the water with a low-key gig and it was a good one. I am not so annoyed by my own performance as it is happening, though it's interesting being in the position where you're not quite sure what's coming next. It sometimes feels a little bit like drowning. Even the less familiar routines at the start of the second half more or less came back to me. It's another 19 days to the next gig though, so I'll have to go through all of this again.
The good thing about doing the occasional isolated gig rather than twenty in twenty-one days is that it's not too tiring and the process is enjoyable. Aside from having to listen to my stupid voice (and the bits of the script that I was getting wrong as I got more weary at the end of the Fringe) I loved the drive up the M40. The road was clear, the sun was shining through the winter brittle and I felt free. All this variety of work can be a bit dazzling, but it also keeps life interesting. Having something different and difficult to do every day makes it harder to sit back and procrastinate. Even with the smaller crowd tonight was a real pleasure, making this a top weekend of fun work. This show is complex (even I find it hard to keep up) but I am very pleased with it. Please come and see it to spare me the shame of moving down a room and give me the joy of moving up!
As it was Sunday the roads were pretty clear, though I fear that at one point I may have noticed a speed trap a little bit too late. Not that I was speeding, of course. But sometimes those machines can think you are. So now I have the fun of waiting to see if I get a ticket in the post. It's nice to have a bit of jeopardy in your life when you're my age. Ah, the added frisson. I'm betting I braked just in time. But who's to say what the judges decision will be.
The first part of the interview I did with John Fleming about making my own content and Meaning of Life is now up on his website. More to come apparently. We are at least a couple of weeks away from getting the first episode on line. Hope it's worth the wait.