This gig had been several months in the making and to cut the back story as short as possible, whilst John was posting one of our regular comedy nights on facebook a friend of his (a landlord of a pub in Clun) spotted the post and asked him how he went about running such a night as he’d always wanted to try one out and thus put him in contact with me. I went out to meet Jack and see his pub in late November last year and agreed a start date and budget (far more than I had ever been given to run a gig before). It was a one roomed venue but oddly shaped so it broke off into different parts. So with this mind I blindly went ahead and lined up a complete night of comedians that were all to my own personal taste. No I didn’t do that because that would be stupid! thought about all the possible ways the gig could go, thought about what sort of audience it would be and decided to go for the best mix possible. It was to be Dave Dinsdale compering, Jon Wagstaffe as opening 20, Jane Huxley and myself as the middle 10’s and as it was mid-week and he was able to carpool with Dave I was able to book Andy White to headline (his Teknicolour Smoof debut!)
On the day before the gig John decided to have a night off and come along with me as a punter and watch the gig. Sadly just before we are planning to set off Wagstaffe had his car die on him so couldn’t make it, but Jon Pearson was able to fill in for him at the possible moment (what a life saver). Upon our arrival at the venue it was rammed, rammed with people out having an evening meal that is, no-one seemed to be there to see comedy. Jack wanted to set us up right in the main bar area (where a group of people were having a meal at the time) but John managed to convince him to put us down the long far end of the pub where the pool table usually is. Moved the pool table to one side made a make shift ”stage” out of two pieces of wood and brought in all the tables and chairs we could from the rest of the pub to make it into a makeshift ‘comedy club’. I had been told a PA would be provided for us but this hadn’t happened! fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my smoof box of bits with me so had a microphone and I also now keep a small guitar amp in the car at all times now just in case and this is what we had to use tonight. It was far from perfect but did the job well enough for this small room.
We waited, then we waited and waited and waited and waited and no audience showed up by 8:50pm still no audience, when Dinsdale started his usual ‘pre-comere’ compering material thing and suddenly a gang on 5 blokes came in and sat down (all-be-it as far away as they could get from the ‘stage’) with yet more onlookers stulking around at the bar watching from a far we started the night. Dave Dinsdale is a professional standard compere who would be professional if we wanted to be, but happy doing it as a hobby. Really I don’t have to explain what it is he does I’m sure we all know and he handled it as professionally as he could given the situation. Naturally the ”audience” we had at this point only gave us half of their attention trying to pull people away from their smart phone screens in any comedy club is an ever ongoing battle. Jon Pearson opened and given he’d recently played to about 300 people at the Leicester comedy festival performing to 5 punters (not counting the acts, john and jack the landlord) must have been a major comedown for him, but soon as he tried to material and reach to punch lines battered by a drunk heckler (the village drug dealer it seemed) this was where he was at his finest, ad-libbing away meant he didn’t need to do much material to fill his first 10 minutes but handled it like a true comedy professional, and was a fine opening 20.
After the first break we hadn’t gained any extra punters in the seating area BUT yet more ‘stulkers’ gathering at the back and dinsdale doing what dinsdale does best tried to inject life into the room with his higher/lower game which had some effect but really it was John and the other comedians leading the way with it. Jane Huxley was the first middle 10 here and she showed a lot of skill in dealing yet again with our local village drug dealer friend by taking him down pretty well for someone still very new to the comedy scene, when she went into her material she did ok, nothing wrong with her act or the material itself in any way but this lot weren’t rowdy per say but still had short attention spans so any more story teller based act would have had something of a struggle in this environment, but she did very well against what was facing her. Roger Swift was next who you will have heard of, the loud mad guy who throws dildos and toys around the stage? let’s just say it was exactly the right sort of act for the environment at the time as it blasted them and forced them into submission. I’d rank it a 7/10 from my point of view. Some misses (7 or 8) but when your doing 50 of them in 10 minutes, that’s still a good hit rate. I pulled more people in from the bar too, who wanted to see what this chaos was about.
Final section of the show and NOT MY WORDS A MERE QUOTE I HAVE NOW CUT & PASTED IN ‘Andy White was concerned about having to “Follow Roger Swift after he had stormed it.” ‘ Dinsdale shouted to the room at large that a professional comedian was about to perform for them and it worked in getting the sat down gang of blokes to move forward (finally) and yet more people to come and stulk in the standing area at the back as the headline act took to the stage. Andy White headlined and put simply (sorry for a hack reviewer type line now) tore the roof off for a solid 30 minutes and 20+ minutes of that was actual material too as we only spend about 7-8 minutes of it dealing the drug dealer who started heckling random points that had no relevance to the material andy was doing at the time. I don’t like to spoil or write out bits of acts actual material in these reviews ever but on a personal note his bit on the racist joke he once received from a mancunian which he then transitions into a piece on Nelson Mandela breaking out of prison is the highlight of his set. Also him explaining who Jimmy Saville was to the young-uns was magic. Put simply a professional comedian and rightly so and worth every penny what he got paid (and more) if you run pro night gigs he is a must book act and in terms of the standard, leaps and bounds above any of us mortals.
In summary it was a slow burner but we got there and it was a surprise overall success, Landlord loved it and gave me a verbal contract to run it monthly at least until June, so have a paid act gig for at least a few months with this one. It’s still going to take a while to build up and iron out all the bugs with it but think I’ve hopefully got another hit on my hands with this. I can already foresee though exactly the kind of acts that’ll work at this one and the ones that sadly won’t at this early stages so will have to be selective over who I book over the coming 3-4 months…..
Clun it’s a village that out in the middle of nowhere (literally) so …. well it’s a work in progress like anything else. Clun comedy club, last Wednesday of the month starts here though.