Last night I tried my hand at something I have loved to watch for years but had never really thought of doing it myself; Stand up comedy.
It's all the fault of my friend Paul who I know from Collective Encounters a group I am involved with in putting on stage plays to address social issues like mental health etc. Paul's something of a jack of all trades, acting, directing and performing as a comic and his plan was to establish a comedy night in St Helens that would occur on a monthly basis entitled Starfish Comedy Club at a local bar called The Rendezvous.
I agreed to help Paul out largely by being a sounding board and designing a poster and leaflets for the show. But I had my arm twisted to write some material as Paul believed I am a funny guy. Without wishing to sound immodest, I can be very funny but it's always been among friends and family in pubs and social occasions. I must admit whilst writing the material I did wonder what it would be like to be up on stage performing it, and tentatively agreed to maybe trying it out in a couple of months time, should the first night go so well we were able to secure a regular spot.
Come Monday night, Paul decided to tell me he had gone ahead and figured me into the first night, placing me second on the bill!
This gave me just a day to rehearse the five minutes of material I'd managed to write up and build up the courage to go out there and do it.
All day yesterday I felt funny and on edge. I've performed on stage before - most recently with Collective Encounters - but never like this and never on my own (unless you count a bit of karaoke) This really was in at the deep end!
The show started at 8pm and was opened by a lovely experienced stand up called Glen. Mid way through his act, the mic failed. As I was on next, this meant I had to perform my first ever set without a microphone. wishing I'd put on my brown trousers, I sat through the rest of Glen's hilarious set and waited my turn.
Paul, acting as the night's compere as well as overall organiser, introduced me and advised the audience that this was my first ever time performing stand up. I was a comedy 'virgin' and he expressed a hope that they would treat me gently.
And up I went. I must admit a lot of it was a blur...but it was a blur with laughs! Yes my hastily drawn up material concerning being 35, single and my past experiencing of the horrors of online dating got plenty of laughs. I also got a lot of lovely feedback from many of the paying punters afterwards at the interval at the bar, with a lot of them saying they could not believe that was my first time out. Even Glen remarked it was impressive for a first effort and that I should stick with it.
The night continued with some excellent acts including the lovely John Richards AKA The Woollyback Teletubby and, closing the show, Liverpool's surreal genius Liam Bolton. The audience managed to drink most of the pumps at the Rendezvous dry and a good night was most certainly had by all...especially me, I got a real buzz from doing it.
We'll be back in the new year, January some time. So, if you're in St Helens and want to watch some comedy, keep 'em peeled.
Who knows, I might have another go!