GG Review: Laughing Calves
The Stand-Up Experience – Laughing Calves
10th January @ Retro Bar
I started doing stand-up comedy last summer but stopped abruptly after a rotten gig in a casino…
Everything felt wrong, the shirt I was wearing was too tight for starters, the venue was massive and dwarfed the audience which must have not totalled more than 20.
I begin my set with a line that usually gets some big laughs, nothing.
A man in the front row turns to his friend and pulls a face and it’s him who I focus on for the rest of the time instead of seeing other people who were laughing, but in comedy, like in life, it’s always easier to see the negatives.
I feel as though I am ‘dying’ on stage and hurtle towards the end of my set so I can run away, which makes things even worse. I twist my ankle on the journey home, it was a bad day.
I once heard Sarah Millican, on a podcast, and she said that you should set a deadline for how long you congratulate yourself for a good gig or beat yourself up for a bad one for 10am the next day, as doing either for any longer is just counter productive.
I punished myself for my bad gig for the next 6 months and didn’t step foot on stage again for the duration.
I’d had Laughing Calves booked in my calendar since before my comedic death and wanted to keep my booking as it’s a night I’ve wanted to take part in for years.
Laughing Cows is a night that aims to show case and champion women in comedy.
Acts that have performed at Laughing Cows include Sarah Millican, Shazia Mirza, Gina Yashere, Susan Calman and Zoe Lyons.
It has always been a great night out; booze, laughs and of course lesbians, but please don’t get the impression that that is the only pull of this night.
Audience interaction is high and many regulars are known by name to the vivacious house MC, Maureen Younger.
A warm congeniality ebbs out of the night and I think it is testament to this that I wanted to get up and do it myself.
The women I’d seen perform and the warm audience inspired me to think that it could be possible.
Laughing calves is an offshoot of Laughing Cows which gives new comics a chance to hawk their wares to the lovely Laughing Cows audiences who are known for their hearty laughs and open-minds, a good place to start when you’ve only got a handful of gigs under your belt and are shaking in your veritable newbie boots at the thought of going up on stage.
I made sure I arrived early so as to secure a ‘good’ spot. I opted for second on in the second half.
This ensures the audience is properly warm and well…lubricated with alcohol.
We all pitied the fool who picked the second spot in the first half as no one turned up to take the first spot and so she ended up going on first, the most dreaded of all spots to have when the audience is cold and out for blood.
We were well prepped by the MC Maureen Younger in what the audience were or actually were not expecting.
Being predominantly women and with a high percentage being gay; misogyny, cock and ejaculation-on-tits jokes were recommended to be avoided at all costs, homophobia and rape jokes (apparently to some people this is not obvious according to Maureen) would go down “like a lead balloon” here.
A couple of the other comics looked a bit worried at this point, as one said:
“Can we still talk about minges?”
…yes, yes you can.
I went to get a quick breath of fresh air before the show started and saw a group of my friends standing by the entrance. I was so pleased to see them but also terrified that now I would not only potentially embarrass myself in front of a room full of strangers which I could, just walk away from at the end of the night, but that I could potentially make myself look like a complete idiot in front of the people I care about the most.
‘It’s okay’, I thought to myself, worst case scenario I could still sneak out without them seeing me and take the Piccadilly line straight from Covent Garden to Heathrow after the gig and get a one way ticket to Mexico, good.
The show started and the audience sounded quiet, not a great sign, as we sat in a small staircase to the side of the stage. A few of the girls made small talk and jokes with each other.
I just stood stony faced in a corner on my own trying not to be sick.
I gripped my notebook, reading my ‘jokes‘ again and again,
Why did I even think these were funny?
They don’t even make sense anymore…
… I thought to myself.
It brought back reminders of being at uni standing outside the exam hall trying to learn half a module in five minutes with your fellow students looking you and knowing what they’re thinking:
“It’s too late…”
and they were right.
Soon enough it was my time to go on, my friends whooped and cheered as I came on which made me think, ‘you’re building this up!’ but also that I loved them all the more for being there for me even if it did turn out to be shit.
I launched into my set, editing on the hop, skipping and adding bits as the audience laughed and looked on in stony silence in a way I couldn’t have predicted.
Some bits were light: a misjudged bungee jump in Faliraki.
Some bits weird: Fred West got a mention.
Some bits difficult; a family member’s drug addiction.
And some bits happy: my joy at performing at a night I have admired from afar for so long.
I ran off stage elated and even forgot to give the mic back to the MC which inadvertently got a few laughs and best of all, I didn’t die.
I saw my friends at the end who were there with big congratulatory hugs and smiles.
I was well and truly back on the comedy horse with more gigs booked for the forthcoming weeks and most importantly am booked onto the next Laughing Calves in August which I am already looking forward to.
For details of the next Laughing Cows show in your area, check out their website for full show listings.