Saturday, 25 August 2012

Where nobody knows your name...

One of the simultaneously great and terrible things about being a non-famous comedian is that, by definition, audiences don't know who you are.

The up-sides are that you won't be judged on anything you've ever done previously getting to start each set with a blank slate, and that if things don't go as planned - they won't remember you anyway.

The downsides? You have to start from scratch at every gig, and if you do really, really well - they won't remember you anyway.

Until the level just below telly, it doesn't matter how respected you are on the circuit, how many times you've stormed it or how many positive comments you've got on your Chortle thread - audiences probably won't be able to remember what your name is even while you are standing on stage in front of them.

The excellent character act Loretta Maine has a bit where she points to a guy in the front row and asks 'what's my name?' - the laugh comes from the fact that he doesn't know, and the audience don't know and they're just relieved they didn't get asked.  Interestingly the second time she asks (towards the end of her act) the audience do know.

On countless occasions I've asked people who've been to The Glee the previous night 'who was on?' only to be met with a faraway look, a tongue protruding from the corner of the mouth and then the eventual 'er... there was a man in a suit, I think a Canadian or could have been Australian....' and those will be some of the best acts on the circuit.

So if you're a newbie worrying about your first gig at a new act night where you're on with a dozen other acts, bear in mind that you'll only be in the audiences consciousness for the time you are actually standing in front of them.  Unless of course you're at the extremes of awful or brilliant - but even then, they'll remember what you did rather than what your name is.


  1. Enjoying this blog, James, though I admit it took me several years before I remembered your name.