Back to old school

I am sitting here on The Azamara Journey in an empty bar at 9 am overlooking the beautiful port of Dubrovnik. I have just finished three days on this lovely ship and I am killing time before I leave to go to the airport to fly home for a couple of days before my next trip. The temperature here has suddenly dropped and there is rain coming in according to the forecast. This is a clear signal to me that the summer is coming to an end. A few years ago if I was in a summer show on the coast this week would have been the last week of the season unless you were in Blackpool where most of the shows would go on till the end of October due to the illuminations. I remember in 1986 performing in The Russ Abbott show and we finished the season at the end of October. It was freezing at the end of The North Pier yet our show (Well, Russ and Bella Emberg) still packed the theatre twice nightly. I loved doing my act every day even if it was only six minutes, yes this is true. I actually got a letter from the management asking me to watch my time on stage as it had been reported on three occasions that I had over run and performed for seven minutes. I did however appear in two sketches with Russ and the lovely Maggie Moone and it was a master class on how to feed a comic straight lines. I really think it’s a shame that the summer shows in The UK are now virtually non existent. My mate Phil Butler has been appearing in one at Cromer and I am a little envious as I know I would relish the opportunity to work on stage every night. I have been speaking to a lot of my fellow comics and entertainers who have just finished doing The Edinburgh Festival and they all say the best thing about doing Edinburgh is the fact that you get to perform on stage nightly for twenty six nights if you are doing the whole run. I am sure that this makes any performer a better performer in the short term, it’s a bit like getting in the gym five days a week, you become gig fit. The only down side is you can drift in to ‘walking the show’ or ‘phoning it in’ and getting a bit bored with doing the same act every night. This is why I try to put in at least two or three new lines every time I work some times more. The adrenaline rush that I get from trying a new line is like a drug. You never really know if it’s going to work and nine times out of ten the gag comes out completely different to how you worded it when writing it down countless times beforehand. I tend to work two nights if I am on a ship for a week. I know this sounds easy work but if I do two shows, it is two completely different forty five minute shows which for a comic who doesn’t sing or play a musical instrument it means you have to have or come up with a lot of material. I have got hours and hours of material in my file but not necessarily in my head. For my second show I always feel that I haven’t got enough material in my head to fill forty five minutes yet usually I find myself in danger of overrunning however I am yet to get a letter from the management.

In the last nine days I have performed on two different ships, Cunard’s Queen Victoria and The Azamara Journey. Both ships have been a delight to perform on as both audiences have been a mix of Australians, Americans and Brits and that suits my act these days. However, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy playing to an all British audience like I play to on most P&O ships because I do. Both audiences require a different approach and that keeps me on my toes.

I am lucky enough to have a busy diary for the run up to Christmas which includes four transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2. This will mean 32 days at sea over the next four months. The easiest thing to do would be just to sit back, watch movies, football and sample the legendary Cunard White Star service. But I am going to set my self a challenge to write a show that I could take to festivals like Edinburgh and maybe even to small theatres in the UK . From what I can gather , writing this sort of show is completely different to going out and performing in a club or on stage on a cruise. I want to make the hour consist of true stories, and memory’s from my long and mainly unsuccessful career!! I know I can do this, I just have to push my self and mentioning it on here is my way of making a statement of intent knowing that if I say I am going to do something I very rarely back out.
Have a great September.