Friday July 3rd 2009 is a date I remember for two reasons. Firstly Andy Murray’s hopes and expectations of reaching his first Wimbledon final were rather ungallantly extinguished by an inspired Andy Roddick. Secondly I performed a solo show to 250 people at the upside down inflatable cow , the Udderbelly , on the South Bank.
There was a perfect storm of circumstances that led to my biggest audience figures. A gloriously sunny day , a prime central location , and a perfect time on a busy summer Friday night all helped. As well as the audience being boosted by many of my friends. That evening I felt like one of those proper comics , the ones with the omnipotent agents and white teeth and fancy hair and the ability to pay for writers on Mock the Week. It was a fleeting sensation.
Since then , my agent Sally Carter and I have worked our collective butts off trying to sell tickets , trying to replicate that experience of playing to a sizeable audience. No matter how warm the critical response was , overall there was public apathy. 250 tickets seemed like a pipe dream. But now , thanks to my ability to answer general knowledge questions at pace whilst tolerating being squeezed into an ill fitting white suit , it has happened. Two nights in a row.
On Friday night , the tour moved onto Ormskirk. Previously the only thing I knew about the town was that it had a high rate of 15-1 series champions. On Friday it was the unlikely host to my biggest ever audience. The front five rows had an average age of about 65. I have learnt now that given that I’m 43 myself , I may well have more in common with this age group than 18-19 year olds. The latter age group have never even heard of Jim Davidson. I mentioned in my last post the emotional pressure of being confronted by an audience this size , who have only come out for the evening because of you. I’m not used to it at all , and seeing 300 people sat there could have terrified me. But at these points I always remind myself – “Paul – this was YOUR dream. Nobody forced you to make these career choices. When you decided to become a standup comic , this is exactly what you had in mind. Stop worrying about whether they might be homophobic.You have worked bloody hard to get to this point. Now enjoy it”
And I did enjoy it. In true showbiz style , I added a Question and Answer feature at the end of the show , and I enjoyed going off script a lot. The audience were charm personified. And I left Ormskirk on a high , and thoroughly looking forward to Saturday night in Stockton.
The audience at the Arc Theatre in Stockton were a more diverse crowd age wise , numbering close to 300. The confidence gained from a job well done the previous evening really helped , and once more the show was a success. Q and A certainly produced some interesting questions , and I have listed them all at the end of the blog. Then I moved onto a pub with friends. Then a nightclub. My friend Peter who had promoted the gig said “Don’t worry , I know them , we can go straight to the front of the queue”
Straight to the front of the queue. On a Saturday night in Teeside. This sounded like a recipe for fighty disaster. And when we went to front of the queue , a bunch of drunk lairy lads when absolutely beserk. One of them shouted
“Oh my god. Its the fucking Sinnerman”
Rather than throw punches , they posed for photos. Wisely I kept quiet on just how much I fancy drunk, lairy straight lads. All I was thinking about was the words of the great Gary Barlow in Take That’s underrated classic “Never Forget”.
“Some day , this will all be someone else’s dream.”
And of course it will. One day the white suit will be a distant memory.But for now , it is important that I try and enjoy and appreciate my good fortune. It has been a long struggle , and of course there will be future solo shows that will not go nearly as well as this weekend’s. But for now I am grateful to everyone involved that for two consecutive nights I felt like one of those proper comics. I will not forget that in a hurry….
Oh. And those questions……………..
1. Who is going to win the Ashes ?
2. Who is the cleverest Chaser ?
3. What’s you most embarrassing moment as a Chaser ?
4. Jim Davidson called you an “Indian Poof”. Is there a four letter word you could apply to him ?
5. What would like for Christmas ?
6. Why do you support Liverpool FC ?
1. Where’s the white suit ?
2. Do you ever get questions deliberately wrong on the show ?
3. Are you really gay ?
4. Where are the 39 Steps ?
5. What’s the capital of Outer Mongolia ?
6. When you were in Dubai , did you meet my son in law ?