Monday, 26 October 2015

Show Etiquette

Working on Ladies' Nights I am very aware that my job is, as well as being entertaining, to keep control of the crowd. To this end I am expected to fill in when a stripper is late arriving or has a 'slight mishap' when getting ready for the show. I am also expected to make sure that the boys have enough room to actually perform. In many venues there is not a stage as such and we have to perform on the floor, sometimes an actual dance floor but often just a clearing in the jungle of tables and chairs.
Recently I was working in a club that actually had a stage and lights. Raised up above the audience sat at tables this made sure everyone in the room could see. Now while this is the ideal setup the boys are so used to working on a floor that they automatically get down off the stage and make the performance more intimate.
This makes my job a little more difficult if we have a boisterous audience and they are trying to get up close and personal with the performers as they go through their routines.
So, there I am at this venue, all is going well and the stripper is bouncing around on the floor in front of the stage with a room full of howling women egging him on when I spotted one, camera in hand, climbing up onto the stage behind the performer filming the action. I immediately switchedon my microphone and ordered her off the stage. She hesitated so I strode down the room towards her and said, off mike, to get off the stage.
'But,' she protests, 'I am the Manager'
'I don't care who you are. Get off the stage'
'But I'm the Manager. I work here' So I had to explain to her that if I let her climb up on the stage then the rest of the audience will think it is OK to do the same and chaos would ensue. She didn't get it and just kept repeating that she was the manager.
She obviously credited her audience with far more intelligence than I did. When a baying crowd of horny women see an opportunity to get closer to a naked man they will take it.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Every now and again, just occasionally, customers/clients/audiences surprise me

I got a call recently from an agent with a very urgent, last minute request to step into the breech and cover a job someone had let them down on.
I was available and, despite it being over 2 hours away, I quickly packed a suitcase, loaded up the PA system and headed out the door once I had confirmed with the client what they wanted.This is often essential with last minute bookings as they often need to compromise on their expectations. In this case although they had been looking for a live act they were happy to settle for my comedy mime routines and live patter.
I rushed down the motorway and got to the venue only a little late. The organiser was waiting outside, grateful that I had actually turned up. A small army of bar staff were co-opted into unloading the car while I found a legal parking spot.
Once inside I set up my sound system and retired to the lovely room they had allocated to me as a dressing room. The organiser came to see me, paid me (a strict requirement for this agent's jobs) and we agreed a schedule for the evening.
As I was running a little late I hurried to get ready for 9.45pm, the agreed start time. At 9.45 the organiser came in and said they were running 5 mins late. I was happy with that and she returned a few minutes later to say they were ready for me.
I made my entrance and went through my first two numbers to enthusiastic applause. Then it went wrong and I am blowed if I can make out why!
The most important rule when working a hen night with an actual bride-to-be present is to remember it is their night and they need to be centre of attention. Some gentle ribbing is obligatory. I ploughed straight in with some cheeky remarks about how flat her chest was and next thing I am beckoned to one side by the organiser and told to stop, leave the room and go home as the bride was upset!
Now the only thing I can think of is that the hen was sensitive about her breast size or had some sort of medical condition. In either case the organiser should have warned me that it was a delicate subject. I am not a mind reader!

Monday, 23 February 2015


When I am working, during the break, I use the time productively to chat to my punters. I can pick up all sorts of things both about the audience and about women in general.
While the closest I have ever got to being inside a woman was a trip up the Stature of Liberty on a visit to New York, I have garnered an awful lot of inside knowledge from many chats in various beer gardens and smoking shelters at Ladies' Nights. Maybe a few straight guys should try listening to woman. They will definitely learn a few things to their advantage.
At a gig last night a woman asked me how I knew so much about girls and their feelings? Did I study them? Was I secretly straight?
Nope. I just listen.
I get told so many secrets. Some of them I wouldn't dream of repeating but most I regurgitate on stage night after night LOL
I had the gory details of botched boob jobs, half assed hysterectomies and butchered birth canals related to me in all their horror while I share a small sherry and a Lambert & Butler with an overweight Sharon in a very tight size 14 Primark special. My job is so glamorous!

Monday, 9 February 2015

The aftermath

Well, it is all over and done with.
How did it all go?
The theatre was half full, so that wasn't so bad
The technology all worked. We had a slight issue about cuing up the various elements on the computer but nothing that was detrimental to the show
The one thing that didn't go to plan, well two things actually, were the two new mime routines. Basically I ballsed them up! This was, I think, because I had spent all my rehearsal time perfecting my singing routines and had neglected the new mime numbers.
The stand-up went well despite, or maybe because of, a rowdy beer-filled audience and the improv, which is always a feature of my cabaret act, was a success.
So, on balance, the entire experience has been enriching (I learned to sing and made a whole load of new costumes) while teaching me a lesson (don't focus too exclusively on one aspect of new material).
What I will be taking forward is a determination to learn enough songs to be able to perform a completely live cabaret routine, a full hour, without mime numbers and without costume changes by the summer.
Big thanks to Upstairs at The Western and Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival for spurring me.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Two days to go!

Well, this is it. The final furlong (God that dates me!). The last of the costumes are finished, my last full day of rehearsals (I have lots on tomorrow, including a final singing lesson and a theatre visit in the evening) and all I have to do is sort out everything ready to be packed up on Saturday morning.
At 2pm Saturday I have a final full technical run through of the show just to make sure all my back-up team know what they are doing and ensuring that I can do all the costume changes in time. It also gives us an opportunity to ship all the costumes and props into the theatre while there are no customers around. It is no easy task transporting a trunk full of costumes, several pairs of shoes, a myriad of wigs and a box of props surreptitiously! LOL
Then it's back home for a rest and a final run through of my songs before getting back to the theatre for 9.30pm, two hours before curtain up.
Mine is not the only show on that night and the previous stand-up performance isn't due to end before 10.30 so I will be able to hear them from the dressing room (aka the kitchen). Time will tell whether this will soothe my nerves or make them worse.
Everybody at Upstairs at The Western have been incredibly supportive ever since the idea of me performing as part of Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival was first mooted back in last summer. So if it all goes tits up, it's their fault! LOL

Monday, 2 February 2015

Five days and counting

Five days to go and the pressure is building
Today I had a very productive meeting with Gary, the artistic director at Upstairs @ The Western. His input was invaluable as we ran through the technical requirements for my show. Initially the meeting was simply to check that the computer I was using would play OK through the in-house system and that the graphics would look good for the audience.
One thing we changed, and it was only because we had the time to discuss various options, was that we did away with the free-standing screen onstage and used the drop down one on the back wall. It gives a very much cleaner image and, with some backstage juggling, does away with the need for an extended changing area beside the stage.
We also came up with a workable method of videoing the show for 'posterity'. Something I was keen on doing for both my own benefit and for those friends who can't make it on the night.
So, it's back to my sewing machine to finish off the last costume, more rehearsals and a final voice lesson with my wonderfully inspiring voice coach, Carol

Sunday, 1 February 2015

One week and counting ...

With just one week to go I have got most of the things done I need to get done.
The routines are written, the songs are learnt, more or less, and the graphics are all done.
I am just finishing off the very last new costume and it can all be packed away ready for transporting to the theatre.
On Monday I go into the venue to do an audio visual technical check; the projector has to be refocused, the screen has to be positioned and the computer has to be checked to make sure we have the leads and right software.
Then I have a week of intense rehearsals before a final singing lesson on Wednesday.
Saturday, the day of the show, we are having a full technical dress rehearsal at the venue along with my dresser, my computer operator and lighting engineer to ensure we all know where the cues are and to give me a chance for any last minute changes to the running times.
It is all a long way from my normal shows where I just turn up at a venue, stick the mini disk on and mime and patter my way to a crowd of horny women waiting for a couple of strippers to come on.
This is a proper theatrical experience which I am hoping will lead on to similar ventures.
Tickets still available on