Two shows done, four to go.
Saturday night at 10pm: the first full performance of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, to an audience of 12. A few shaky moments where I didn’t have a clue what was coming next, a few where I knew it wasn’t going right but couldn’t change it, and a few ad-libbed moments that are now part of the script. Most importantly to me, I could hear the audience laughing, not necessarily in the places I thought they would, but I learned that lesson often enough in stand-up. And no-one booed my rather horrible American accent, but I think I get a pass on this after 8 years of putting up with dreadful ‘ello Guvnor, chim-chiminey’ type greetings.
Unfortunately, one of the press reviewers was sitting right up front and in my direct eyeline so I could see him rather clearly. It’s hard to see someone making notes about something you’ve done, but not know what they’re writing. Reminds me of taking my driving test and hoping the tester was scribbling so furiously because he was so incredibly impressed at my driving skills. I remain suitably pessimistic.
Sunday evening, 6pm: Fun show, a very biased, pro-Maggie audience of around 20. Just before the show, I finally found the shoebox with all my Freddie Mercury/Queen press clippings and photos and there was a certain power in reading Freddie’s HIV statement from the original Guardian newspaper report. Made a few other mistakes, including forgetting the name of the other bloke from Van Halen and dropping one of my favourite lines, which Erik reminded me of later.
Was a bit concerned over the lack of laughter, which apparently is my version of crack, but was sort of reassured by all the positive and generous comments from friends after. Audiences should be aware that unfortunately, your performer cannot hear you smile, even if it’s an all-out grin. Erik had at one point offered to run a laugh track from the sound booth, but only to be played when he felt I really deserved it. When I used to do stand-up at the Velveeta Room, the manager Dana, would ding a bell on the bar if a line was particularly funny, or spectactularly bad. The little dings were almost more rewarding than the pay, which was just as well. Comedy rarely pays. Unlike crime.
I’m just happy to get this show started and genuinely quite proud of how quickly this has all come together. Most artists like to brag about how long it’s taken and how hard they’ve worked to bring their vision to the stage. Robert Faires, Chronicle Arts bloke, has apparently been preparing his current one man play about Henry V, for 20 years. I started working on my script for Don’t Stop Me Now in mid April 2009. Robert Faires probably wasn’t still trying to funny-up his script or wondering if he had too many light cues, in the week before he opened .
Maybe in 20 years, when the hideous We Will Rock You musical finally comes to an end and I get to stage ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ without having to worry about infringing rights and depriving Roger and Brian of a few more quid, I’ll look back to this week with a mix of nostalgia and embarrassment. Yes of course people will still know who Queen are in 2029. If old Henry V can still be relevant when it’s hundreds of years since he died and he didn’t even bother writing any songs, then the creator of Bohemian Rhapsody and the best band ever, can’t possibly be forgotten.
Come and see the show before I completely rewrite it. Or go to Henry V, apparently it’s V. good.