We'd driven to Salford after last night's gig in Leeds and we're staying in the same hotel for three nights, which gives me a base and lots of time to get on with my work. I made slow but steady progress.
I headed to the hotel gym to burn up a few calories. The running machine had a sticker above its display reading "please do not move". That made using the equipment somewhat of a challenge. I stood on it for half an hour as still as a statue, but was disappointed to see that I had done 0 calories of exercise. Worst piece of gym equipment ever.
The lift in the hotel did not speak to me in French (just coldly told me which floor I was on). But there was another notice up in there. It had a cartoon of a clock and the warning, "Remember that the clocks change at 1am on Sunday". It was nice to be told, but it created that additional questions of how they change, in which direction will time go and what if they change into something other than clocks? How will we know what the time is if all clocks are now windows to the fifth dimension? I decided to help out the idiot who writes the signs in this hotel, got out my sharpie and wrote "But in which direction do they change?" I am guessing most guests here are not vandals like me, but I was carrying on a public service. I assumed that they would rewrite their signs after my telling satire of their idiocy. But after the gig and a couple of drinks I got back in the same lift to discover that my graffito had been removed, but the sign remained the same. Tell us which direction you idiots. If I go the wrong way my whole year could be ruined.
I had got over excited when I noticed that a new Nandos had appeared opposite the Lowry. As I sat in Costa I went on line to work out what I could have with my remaining 700 calories for the day and discovered that a quarter chicken with rice and sweetcorn was within my allotment. I headed to the restaurant looking forward to my treat to find that the builders were still working on it and that it wasn't open yet. So I returned to Costa to have a piri piri chicken panini, which I thought might be similar enough to compensate. But it wasn't. It at least left me 300 calories to drink in booze after the gig. Plus a sense of nagging disappointment with the world.
It was another gratifyingly packed auditorium tonight, with well over 400 people in. I will come bumping down to earth on Monday when I am gigging in Balamory (I think that's where I am) near Aberdeen. I discovered today that Simon Evans and Rich Hall are both playing Aberdeen on Monday. I think that's probably too much choice of comedy for a weekday night in a town where there aren't hundreds of comedy fans to go round. Even I would go to see Rich Hall given that choice, but then I've already seen me. Still it's great to be filling up these medium sized theatres. A few places have been a step backwards on this tour: I didn't fill Birmingham Glee as I did a couple of years back and I moved back to the smaller room at Warwick Arts Centre, but certainly in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow I could have been in much bigger rooms. The 13 years of solo touring to much smaller numbers than these do mean I appreciate what's going on now.
But it felt like quite a tough crowd for the first 15 minutes. Perhaps I had not mentally prepared for the gig having not had to travel here, but it felt like I hadn't got them to begin with. Which is quite a rare feeling these days. I've been hitting the ground running and it's been fun from start to finish. I made a few errors and stumbles and almost panicked about it, but resolved to keep my head up and the energy up and I won them round. I think it might have been a case of just feeling like a tough one from the stage. The room was high and the audience on three tiers and maybe the laughs were heading upwards rather than forwards. Certainly after the show the people I met seemed very happy with the show. I was glad that I didn't like slight weariness (and maybe hunger) dampen things. And I did manage to make three or four tweaks that improved some of the jokes, though I am not sure I will remember exactly what I did tomorrow.
It was a good one in the end and it felt good, if a little scary to have to fight for it.
The hotel is full of media types. Buying a drink after the gig I found myself standing next to Radio 2 legend Ken Bruce. He looked at me and said, "Richard Herring!" I was genuinely amazed and rather chuffed that he knew who I was. We would have talked more but the bar was no longer accepting cash payment and Ken had not swiped a credit card when he had checked in. So he had to go back to reception. A bit too late I shouted after him that I would happily pay for his drinks, but Ken had too much honour to allow me. It struck me as a good way to get free drinks if you are Ken Bruce though. Wait til there's someone you vaguely recognise at a hotel bar after the cash till is shut, shazam their face so you know their name and then flatter them into thinking that they've come up with the idea of buying your round for you, when that was your genius plan all along. You're missing a trick Ken.
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And there's a blast from the past in this week's Metro column. Delighted to see this decade old debacle still dividing opinion. Some people were furious that I'd wasted their time with something so trivial, others said it was their favourite column. It's nice to bring an idea that has so far been witnessed by maybe 25,000 people to the millions that read this paper. If that wasn't enough yoghurt for you then you can buy the show (with 40 minutes of yoghurt and lots more) here for just £5 download or £12 for a DVD with lots of extras. Still my best selling solo DVD on the website!
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