I am sorry once again that I haven’t posted a blog for a few months but thankfully I have been busy since my last blog at the end of my Australian and South Pacific tour. I am also pleased to say that I haven’t just been doing cruises. I have managed to get in five wonderful nights for Warner Hotels and also a few comedy clubs.
It’s always been nice to shake it all up a bit as it keeps a comic like me on his toes as the ships and land work both require a completely different approach. When I got back from my trip down under I didn’t have a break and I went straight back in to cruising for a few weeks. If I am honest I had such a great time on stage on the Australian cruises playing to mainly Australian and American guests as well as quite a few Brits. This always makes up for a great show as I work off the crowd and spend a lot of time playing them against each other and it’s been really working well. I prepared myself for a bit of a come down to earth as I knew I was going straight back in to playing to mainly British audiences and once again I knew this would mean I would have to start working hard for my laughs again for a few shows until I adjusted to this way of working again. Well, I walked on to a ship prepared to work hard and it was like I was still in Australia, the audiences were really up for it and it was big laughs all round. Then I went on holiday for a week to Spain and I can honestly say I totally switched off. The diet went out the window, my walking was kept to a minimum and I became a gold card member of The Rioja Vino society once again.
Usually when I go away I keep up with the news and even make notes if I feel there is anything I can write about for the act. This week away, I did nothing! The following week after the holiday I had a few more days off at home and then after two weeks away from my act I went back to work feeling fully refreshed if not a little chubbier than a few weeks before. I was thinking I don’t need to think about the act as it will all come back and anyway I was working well before the break. I met up with a colleague in the terminal, a comedian who I have known for many years. he said ‘ Jeff, you are going to love this lot, they are totally up for it and love their comedy.’ I thought to my self’ let me at them, I can’t wait.’ All I can tell you is that from the moment I walked on and went in to my opening bit, this voice in my head said ‘ they don’t like you’……I thought ‘ no, I will keep at them and I will get them.’ No matter what I did I just could not turn this round in to a great show for me. Now you may have heard the phrase ‘gig fit’, well that’s exactly what I wasn’t. That two weeks off was exactly what I needed but it wasn’t good for my act. If I was in the middle of a run of gigs I would have probably been able to pull it out the bag but I didn’t. The show probably wasn’t as bad as I thought but to me it was a near death, it was nowhere near the level I like to keep up to. For two days after this show I couldn’t make eye contact with the guests, I had the odd guest come up and say ‘ well I thought it was funny.’ This just makes a comic feel worse and it doesn’t help. The legendary warm up comic Felix Boweness once did a show the night before and we were chatting at the BBC TV Centre. I said ‘ Felix, how did the dinner show go last night?’ Felix said ‘ I didn’t die but I was very ill.’ Anyway, a few days later I did another show and the theatre on the ship was almost empty, some people had come back because they had maybe enjoyed my first show and some people came because they couldn’t believe my first show and just wanted to see if it would be as bad again. It was worse! The bad news is that one of the heads of entertainment from head office was on the ship and he had seen me in Australia having a few great gigs and then he saw me on this ship struggling. He just said to me they were a tough crowd and not to worry about it. That’s easier said than done, comedians are sensitive and you are only as good as your last show so now I feel like I’d lost it. The next cruise just a few days later I get on for the same company and I wont lie, I was nervous. I felt like a footballer who could be relegated to the bench or worse if I have another dodgy game. I went on that night on the next ship and it was as if the audience were taking the Micky. They laughed loud at everything, the confident voice in my head appeared said ‘ Welcome back Mr S’ . When I came off after two show’s who was there ? The man from head office and over a drink he said he now understands why so many comics are up and down. He couldn’t get over how the same material a few days ago got met with such a quiet reaction yet tonight had them rolling in the aisles. I know this is a slightly serious blog for me but I just thought that any one out there not in the business might find this interesting where as anyone in the business, especially pedlars of mirth will totally get where I am coming from. I suppose the best attitude would be don’t get cocky about the great shows and don’t get down about the bad shows. Once again I apologise for my grammar and lack of it. Leaving school at a young age and going straight in to this game has come at a cost. That’s why I am pleased to say we are looking at University’s next week for our son who usually proof reads my writing but as I am at sea 45 miles west of Northern Spain that’s not going too happen. I’m slightly worried as I have just had a great run of shows and as I said ‘Just when you think you’ve cracked it.’