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Saturday 31st March 2007

Ah, the end of an era. The last Andrew Collings show. I was slightly thoughtful and subdued throughout and out of respect for the careers of my colleagues and myself I did not say the word "Cunt" as I had promised. I did write it on a piece of paper and try to hold it up to the webcam, but I don't think it would have registered, even if that had been the moment the photo got taken.
But that's it from the Herring/Collings alliance, at least until the next series of Banter. We did wonder about just meeting up in a cafe at the weekend and going through the papers together, just for ourselves. And then maybe our crazy listeners could sit at other tables, trying to overhear what we're talking about- even though I detest eavesdroppers, what kind of a person would listen in on another's private conversation?
But in case you can't make it to the cafe, you can listen back to some of the old chats, on some illegal podcasts, here.
We both have plenty of other exciting things coming up and as one door closes, another one opens.
And as if to heighten the feeling that things are changing for the better, the show at the 330 seater Arts Theatre was almost sold out tonight. I like to stand in the wings before a show to get a sense of the atmosphere and focus myself, and unprofessionally peeked through a chink in the curtain to watch the theatre fill up. It was very exciting and unexpected and inexplicable, but after all these years of half full theatres (and worse) it is a terrific feeling to have people coming to see me.
The minutes of anticipation, waiting backstage are always quite exhilirating anyway. Once you're on stage, the time flies by, but before it all starts there is a stillness and calmness, even though your heart is starting to race a little. You wonder what the audience will be like, whether they will be laughing from the start or if you'll have to work hard to get them on side. You hope that this might be one of those great shows where everything flies. Or one of those ones where a silly drunk woman will get a bit over-excited and crash your punchlines and make it hard work. Until you're out there you can never be sure, yet still you try to gauge things from the noises you're hearing.
Tonight the show was delayed as the previous act over-ran and then it took ages to get all my audience in and on a Saturday night especially you worry that people will get impatient or will be drunk or that the delay will mean people will be tired by the end, or busting for the loo. But you have to put these fears aside and concentrate.
Occasionally a slight bout of nerves will hit me, though usually I am quite calm. I start to wonder what will happen if I can't remember my first joke, or if I say it wrong. The show is fairly etched in my brain now, but sometimes I get on such automatic pilot that I am not even really concentrating on what I'm saying. There is still the fear that I might make a fool of myself and fall on my face in front of all these people.
I still can't quite get over the fact that this is my job. I think that is why I like the backstage of theatres so much. Waiting there reminds me that I am partially making my living by treading the boards, which would have made the 13 year old me's head explode with excitement.
It's cool, these minutes backstage. Then the intro tape plays in, I walk on to stage and am greeted by the cheers of the crowd. Not a bad way to start work. Especially when there is so many in there.
I didn't forget my first joke. The audience took a little while to warm up. There was one rather over-excited drunk woman, but I handled her OK. I did a solid performance. It went pretty well.
One door closes, another one opens.

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