Friday, August 25, 2006

A Hopeful Gig In Cradley Heath

A few weeks ago I was driving home from my holiday in Cornwall. On the way, my mobile phone rang. Because I was driving I couldn't take the call. Later, when I was able to get to it there was a voice message from a chap called David Francis. He said that he runs a pub in Cradley Heath, Birmingham, and was planning to put on weekly open mic comedy shows. Scotty had given him my name as somebody who might be interested in taking part.

I was instantly dismissive. Another chap with a five minute interest in putting on live comedy. He'd probably never get as far as the second show. Let's leave it.

BUT... the next day he phoned again, and I spoke to him this time. Top marks for persistence if nothing else! AND... he started to convince me he meant business. He was going to put on an open mic show in his pub every Thursday night. I wasn't free to go along for a few weeks but I promised to help by spreading the word.

A couple of weeks later he was in touch again, asking for help in getting enough acts for his latest gig. I pointed him towards the Chortle forums, and apparently that has helped him keep the shows going, if not as successfully as he'd like. I was able to say that I'd be there to do a spot on August 24th.

I let it be known around town that I was going to be there that night, and invited my friends and fellow 'fringe' comedians to book spots on the same night. Dave Dinsdale did more than that. I soon found out that he'd been along and arranged to take control of the show for that night. He was organising who would be on, and he'd take on compering duties.

So last night I was there, doing a show with old comedy mates Dave, Ian McDiarmid, Johnny Sorrow, and Dean Garbett. I was a bit apprehensive about the mainly local audience, but it turned out to be the most fun gig I've done for years. Dave was MC as he wanted, and did a great job going through reams of his best stuff between the acts. Johnny had the job of first act, and did his usual high energy business. In the second part of the show, first me then Ian did about ten minutes each. I got a better response from my established jokes than I sometimes do. I think the audience could tell how much I was enjoying it. To complete the night, Dean did another great job as headliner.

Dave the pub manager was pleased, and thanked us all. I hope he can keep this comedy night going for his sake and for the sake of Midlands comedians needing stage time. But especially I hope that I'll be back there soon and I'll be doing some new stuff.


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