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Blog: Compere The Difference

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I was booked to COMPERE a COMEDY gig last night, and i was BRICKING myself beforehand. I have had BAD TIMES compereing gigs in the past - mostly at ROCK gigs where nobody WANTS a compere (which is why you don't usually have them) but also many many years ago when I compered the Fringe Club and got BOTTLED OFF. For EIGHT HOURS.

I was hoping this time would be a bit better, not least because it was for a Good Cause. It was run by Mrs M Hewitt (wife of Mr (S) Hewitt) in aid of the UK Friends Of Bradley Manning. If you don't know anything about Bradley Manning I would advise GOOGLING his case - I did yesterday afternoon, just to check the FACTS, and MY GOODNESS but I was APPALLED. Go on, have a look, this'll still be here when you get back!

I was also GOOGLING my fellow performers as, to be honest, I didn't really know much at all about most of them. When I do Totally Acoustic it's EASY to say something between the acts because they are usually my PALS so I can go "Ooh ARTIST X is ACE! I remember the time we did a gig in LOCATION Y and AMUSING INCIDENT Q occurred!" but I wouldn't be able to do that this time, so thought I'd better do some RESEARCH. I didn't get very far with it tho and, not wanting to let anyone down, was AFEARED.

By the time we were about to start I had decided that, actually, what I needed to do was make it clear i am NOT a comedian, NOT try and be one, and instead do a VERSION of what I do at the aforesaid Totally Acoustic: run on, witter slightly, shout the name of the act and then WAVE my arms about a bit. I'd been worried about doing a SET at the start = as comedy comperes always seem to want to, but HAPPILY Ellis James, the first act, asked if I wouldn't mind NOT doing a long bit, as he had to get off somewhere. I was MORE than happy to oblige, so did The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B), said "Here's someone who's seen Gorky's Zygotic Mynci more times than me!" and RAN OFF, arms a-waving.

This seemed to go quite well, INDEED i may have become over-confident as when it came time to introduce Lloyd Langford i did EXACTLY what I had spent most of the week before reminding myself NOT to do: I introduced him as LORD LONGFORD. He was very nice about it, and did a GRATE bit during his set where he started joking about the Bradley Manning case itself, which then led into a DEBATE between himself and various audience members who were part of the campaign. It was BRILLIANT - one of those MOMENTS that happen in the live environment where you find yourself part of a unique EVENT. It was very informative but also kept JOLLY, and he handled it brilliantly - Question Time Producers, TAKE NOTE for future host requirements!

Next up was Terry Saunders, who was dead good, and then I managed to close the first half of the show without further INCIDENT. PHEW. Come the second half I thought I should maybe do a few more songs, as AMAZINGLY it turned out a few people had come to see ME! Imagine! I thus kicked it off again with The Lesson Of The Smiths - I had to stand on the monitor riser at the front and SHOUT, as I couldn't work out how to get the DI boxes plugged in, and thus "HILARIOUSLY" pointed out that this was my ACOUSTIC STAGE. As I said at the time, I am not a comedian.

Naomi Colvin then stood up and gave a big SPEECH which was GRATE - also STIRRING! I thought it might be an idea to wheel out "Boom Shake The Room" in order to get us back towards JOLLITY, which seemed to work out OK and, by this time, I was actually quite enjoying the job. Maybe I shouldn't have then just started telling people what I was READING on the tube, as it wasn't STRICTLY relevant, but still: nobody seemed to mind too much. Then it was the excellent Helen Keen, before another chap from the campaign got up and STIRRED EVERYONE UP with another of those Stirring Speeches... so I thought I'd use that as an excuse to do ANOTHER song! AHA! I did The Gay Train and then introduced Andy Zaltzman, who was GRATE - he did some of that Actual Political Comedy which, rarely for much of it, was both Comedic AND Political. And then it was RObin Ince who, as usual, appeared to come out with no real plan and then RANTED with HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES for half an hour.

And that was that! MUCH to my RELIEF it all seemed to work out OK in the end, and even involved chatting to various TYPES, like Mr D Kitson, who I'd not seen for AGES and also FINALLY getting to say hello to Mr Ince himself who, oddly, it seems, I've never actually met before. It was an all round GRATE night out and all for a Good Thing too - if you've not done that Googling yet, go do it now, honest, you will be as STIRRED UP as the rest of us when you have!

posted 14/6/2011 by MJ Hibbett

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