Another gig awaits! I decided that my list of comedic engagements for 2006 should stay empty no longer, so on Monday I phoned the Comedy Cafe in London and I have a spot on Try-Out Night of Wednesday 16th August. It's a way off I know - in time and place - but I'm smiling when I look forward to it.
As it turned out, when I phoned for the gig I spoke to Julia Chamberlain, who seems to be working there now... but I think she might only be there on Mondays. Anyway... it was she who gave me a Saturday night gig at the Red Rose Club in 2004 after I did a good open spot in Brixton, plus booked me for two paid gigs at Hampstead.
To my great disappointment, those paid Hampstead gigs never actually happened. It's a boring story, partly down to bad luck on my part but partly unexplained on her part... with the result that she is not in my best books. I didn't mention it this time because I wasn't expecting her... but NEXT time she'll have some questions to answer!
Comedy Cafe Try-Out Night!! Free to get in. Comedians on the fringe of the circuit showing what they can - and can't - do. Familiar and famous comedians popping in for a drink and to see who and what is coming through before and after performing elsewhere in London.
This has been a regular weekly event for as long as I've been around the stand-up scene. And a measure of how the scene has changed in that time is that you used to go along to the Comedy Cafe on the night to try and get on, but now you phone and have to wait six months.
My first gig there - 12th December 1990 - was my second ever... and my notes of those early gigs are so good that I can even present for you the bit that I started with on that night."Good evening. I'd like to start tonight with a riddle... A riddle for feminists with a sense of humour... which I hope is all of them.When is a woman like a bicycle?... Answer... When she's too tired."
BOOM BOOM!!... Well.. In those days, I clearly thought that kind of tired (tyred?) wordplay was acceptable as stand-up material. Oh God! I do hope I've learned my lesson. I think I have... AT LAST! We'll see.
My stand-up records for recent years are not that complete, so I don't know how many times I've done that gig, but it must be in the top five of frequent appearances out of my 200 plus gigs to date.
I was last there in 2004. After a performance I didn't want to discuss, I went outside during the interval to avoid conversation, but a young lady - who'd CLEARLY been drinking - came to talk to me and tell me a joke... Which was nice.
Previous visits can't be identified so precisely, but there are more memories that stay with me. I remember when Noel Faulkner - the current owner - was MC one night, and I went on stage and accused him of "trying to bring boredom back into fashion". Not a route to instant popularity... In fact I instantly realized it was the reverse.
I also remember colleagues from British Gas coming along to watch me, before I knew that too was a mistake. I remember another night so warm that I stood outside and watched through the window. I remember Rainer Hersch complementing me on my material. I remember chatting with Simon Pegg. I remember on my first visit to watch the show that the competition was won by Rhona Cameron... or Rhona Campbell as I think she was then.
But NOW I'm looking FORWARD to when I'm there in August, and seeing who wins the competition fifteen years after that. I know who I'd like it to be.