Bristol, Bristol, Bristol.
I spent a lot of last week bouncing to it or past it. My day job client is based there, and all conversations during the working week are about what happens in Bristol (which doesn’t stay in Bristol, apparently).
When at the client’s office, I can’t help but notice that a comedy club I used to frequent is only a few moments’ walk away. I also couldn’t help but remark on the frustration at not being able to manage to return to that club.
Until last Saturday.
Be careful what you wish for.
There I am. Performing in Bristol last Saturday night doing a try-out spot in a lovely room for comedy. What a shame that it felt as soul-destroying as it felt delightful.
Let’s unpack that for a moment.
On Thursday I dropped into the office. A long drive to Bristol, a long day in the client’s office. A long drive back.
On Friday I drove to Swansea, guess where I drove past. Yup, Bristol.
On Saturday I awoke to an invite to a try out spot at Bristol, which I’d asked for. I can’t complain. I really wanted to return. However, an unpaid try out spot comes with some frugal budgeting. I didn’t want to have to pay for the clean air charge, so I started to work out how I would get to Bristol bypassing it.
A fellow act, spotting me complaining about this on Facebook, gave me a call and some advice which I broadly followed. (If only I’d been more daring and parked lower down the street, I’d have saved £4.20 parking… my bad).
I arrived at a venue I’ve not been at in 3 years. To do so, I had to walk past the office I visited on Thursday. Predictable, but still felt weird.
Everything has changed in the venue. The familiar is now unfamiliar.
In addition, I’m there under a different deal. Gone is the status and trust of being a paid act. In its place is the 20 year experienced open spot. Like the 40 year old virgin, I suppose. It’s genuinely weird being at a comedy club as a try out when you’re as experienced as I am.
I’m not too big to be doing an audition spot. You’re always going to have to try out for something, no matter your level of experience… but similarly, when you’re in that situation in that role, there are unwritten rules. There are boundaries. There’s an extra expectation of humility, and a rather embarrassing neediness you have to both avoid AND indulge. You need it to go well, otherwise it’s just an expensive and depressing night out. You need it to be acknowledged and converted into future gigs (or try outs).
Where the previous night I was the closing act, I was now the young hopeful.
It went well. I just smashed through some stuff and the audience were genuinely lovely.
It was still a little bit of a kick to the ego.
And now we wait for the feedback to reach where it needs to reach that I can maybe ask for more work in the future.