Sixty Seven.

The Gig: New Stuff, The Comedy Store, Manchester
The Date: July 11th 2010
The Line Up: Toby Hadoke MCing for Caimh McDonnell, myself, Kooky Babooshka, Graham Goring and Carl Hutchinson.

It’s over. At long last it’s over. The final whistle had blown on the world cup of football and it would be another four years until we had to ride it out again. Four years without every retail outlet inexplicably selling tat with the George cross on it. Four years without the tabloids plastering their back and front pages with casual xenophobia bereft of irony. Four years without every other form of entertainment in the nation taking a kicking because hordes of people that couldn’t give a poorly lubed fuck about football any other time jump on the national bandwagon. Hopefully there will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be another event that justifies plastic instruments whose collective noise is akin to a mob of helium filled scousers being grated on a rusty chicken wire fence.

Hopefully four years is enough time for me to save up the funds to survive Fifa’s attempt to slash my bookings for a month and a half. I say it’s over, there was one match left and I suppose it could be described as a rather important fixture. The final between Spain and Holland. As a rib I was tempted to get as many promoters as possible to ring Wouter Meijs and offer him work on the Sunday night just to see how much it would cost to get him to miss. Those wacky Dutch folk…

Naturally I was gigging on the night of the World Cup final. I texted Toby to ask if New Stuff would still be going ahead in opposition of this rather popular sporting event. He replied in the positive to which I suggested that this was the perfect night to break out all of our anti-Dutch and anti-Spanish material. His reply… “Yeah, the dope-smoking bull murderers.” Bit of casual racism for the kids there.

I will confess to having been a mite preoccupied in the week leading up to New Stuff. As a result I didn’t really have an awful lot of new stuff to do. That said I did have a few bits and pieces that could do with being run out again in a low pressure environment and one or two lines that were still barely half formed in my head. You never quite know how they’re going to work until you say them.

The numbers at The Comedy Store were somewhat diminished due to the irresistable lure of the Chorizo Guzzlers and the Dyke Pokers having a kick around. As a result of this the show had been moved from the main auditorium of The Store downstairs to The Helter Skelter Bar. Shows that take place in the downstairs room at The Store have a definate charm to them. The auditorium can be fantastic if it’s bust but sometimes, with it’s rows of fixed seats, it can feel a little bit sterile. When we’re downstairs, packed tightly into a room that will hold a hundred people at the very most, it feels like a throwback to the underground days of The Comedy Store. The fact that you have to go down a spiral staircase to get to it only adds to this feel. Rows of chairs, punters crammed in and a vague feeling that the gig is only happening because someone thought it would be a good idea ten minutes ago. It’s a lot of fun.

I arrived with Laura, bumped into Caimh outside the dressing room and went to introduce them. Then something happened. For some reason a tiny part of my memory decided to fog over. I lost a single word. I suspect it happens to most people occasionally. You forget a simple word for a few seconds. Cat. Toaster. VAT. Comb. You feel a bit silly, you ask where the “two slot thing that turns bread into toast” is and then you remember the word, have a chuckle and get on with your day. Unfortunately in this case the single word I managed to lose in my synaptic fog was the word “Laura”. Specifically when I tried to take it on the end of “Hi Caimh, this is…”.

No, this isn’t me being such a playa that I can’t possibly be expected to remember the name of any one particular girl. Laura’s name was just out of play for a moment. My memory had made an error noise, suggested that the page I was looking for was unavailable and suggested I refreshed it or checked the URL. Yes, I’d forgotten Laura’s name at the precise moment I was trying to introduce her to someone, a peer I have a huge amount of respect for too. If life was a video game, this is the equivalent of putting a cheat code in for Laura marked “infinite ammunition”. Fortunately Laura saw the look of abject horror that crossed my face as I desperately clutched at the missing word, only for it to slip out of my hand like a bar of soap the harder I tried to grab it. “LAURA!” I finally said, possibly a little too loud. She thought this was hilarious, I am very lucky.

Having survived my brush with disaster, we made our way into the green room with the other acts. Fortunately, having had a chance to rehearse, I managed to introduce Laura to everyone else without incident. The line up for new stuff was definately about quality over quantity tonight as it would appear that comedians are also drawn to that shiny world cup thing. Generally you’ll have between six and eight acts on a new stuff night. On this night they were five.

It was nice to catch up with Kerry and Jordy, both part of the sketch comedy powerhouse Kooky Babooshka, having not crossed paths with them in ages. It was also nice they were there because that might prove to Laura that I don’t just hug other boys. Not that Toby, Graham, Caimh and Carl didn’t get their share of Brooker loving at some point. I also made a point of giving Carl the Wolfpac/Cliq hand touch because I’m a pathetic wrestling geek. High time I started writing a wrestling show just so I can write all my wrestling costs off as business expenses.

They look after you at New Stuff. The fridge is full of beer and the pizza is given gladly. Despite having both eaten well that night Laura and I still found room for a slice or two of pizza. That’s how pizza works, somehow there’s always space for it. Maybe humans have a bovinesque second stomach just for pizza.

Toby headed out to MC the opening part of the show and had a ball of it. They were a small but perfectly formed crowd, united by their contempt for football and their need to do something other than sit indoors of a Sunday evening. Possibly the world’s most middle-class man, Mr Hadoke had all kinds of fun bantering with a girl about her pierced tongue. His deliberately fumbling attempts to ask whether it assisted during intimacy provided genuine hilarity for all present. Subsequent chat with a group from a strange world he couldn’t comprehend by the name of “Blackpool” followed on with equal mirth.

Caimh opened the night up with a good, solid ten minutes of material that I had never heard before. Lots of interesting stuff, most of which hit the mark solidly. It wasn’t easy to guage what was really working and what wasn’t due to the somewhat gentle nature of the crowd. Early in the night and probably taken aback at being crowded into the Helter Skelter Bar when they expected the main auditorium. They were lovely and friendly but a little quiet. I mentioned to Toby that I’d do some banking stuff “for the good of the night”. Yeah, right. THAT’s the reason.

In my defence, in between the ginger stuff and Flux Capacitor (As requested by Laura who hadn’t seen it…) I did genuinely manage to get some new ideas out. Specifically the theory of taking responsibility for things you take for granted when you’re young. The cutlery buying story has potential to grown into something much bigger. I also debuted Laura’s Unsalted Buttery line to a response that suggested it had potential.

Rather rudely I went back to the green room and chatted with Laura and Carl rather than staying out to watch Kooky Babooshka. I have a terrible combination of autopilot and blinkered vision after a gig and often find myself seeking the sanctity of backstage to help me come down post gig. It wasn’t until they came back in that I realised I’d missed out.

I was also shattered that night, having had a long week and a fairly epic trip to Scotland the night before. I excused myself during the interval and we headed for home. A fun night at new stuff that actually featured a bit of new stuff. Good times.

Gig Score: 6/10
Lesson Learnt: From acorns grow oaks. The throw away line about buying cutlery has given me some ideas and might even help me make use of some old lines I thought were out of time.

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