The Wrong Show is an independent and alternative comedy night in Leeds. This is our blog. Here you will find comedy reviews, features, and interviews. We were formally known as HOWL. First Wednesday of the Month, The Fenton, Leeds.
This post is a guest post from Ashley Butterfield, who discusses his experience of performing stand-up comedy.
Am I a stand-up comic? No, I’m not.
I’ve performed stand-up comedy, but to call myself a comedian would be the equivalent of referring to myself as a footballer after a playing a game of heads and volleys.
My comedy portfolio looks something like this:
* Travelling half way across the country to perform for a bloke and his two friends at his newly established comedy night.
* Worrying myself sick all day only to have Spiky Mike fade up his oh-so-hilariously apt song that signifies the audience’s disappointment after two minutes in my company.
* Some good gigs.
The good ones make it worthwhile; they feed my ego for a bit. It doesn’t last long though, I think my ego might be bulimic; I daren’t ask him about it though because he’s pretty fragile.
The awful ones I try and justify with phrases like “it’s all stage time”. It doesn’t really help because I know that my silver lining is nought but a sparkly grey.
Despite this pessimism I can’t stop doing it; the adrenaline rush is incredible. When I know that I am the next act on the bill my ears start pulsing with blood, the compeer’s voice becomes background noise and I become incredibly aware of the fact that my mouth is either too dry or too wet (I have yet to appear on stage with the correct amount of spit in my mouth). But, when my name is called, and there is literally nothing else to do except wipe my palms dry and perform, a calm sense of ‘fuck-it’ comes over me and I get on with it.
The first gig I ever did was two years ago at my student-union -thingy. I signed myself up, after years of convincing myself that I am possibly the funniest person ever born, and set about writing the comedy set that would light the scene on fire. What transpired was the hackiest, most self-deprecating and needlessly offensive script ever to grace a ‘my documents’ folder. I was ready to go. I posted a swift Facebook status saying where and when I would be performing and made my way to the venue.
Upon my arrival, I got a phone-call from a lad I know who said he was bringing some other lads that I know with him to watch me perform.
I followed two guys who suffered a slow death and, I think down to this reason alone, it didn’t go too badly; the audience were desperate to laugh by this point.
One of the lads filmed me that night and it is the only footage I have ever had of myself performing.
Afterwards I asked him why he stopped filming so abruptly and he said ‘I was hoping that nobody would laugh’.
For this reason I have kept my real life and my stand-up life separate ever since.
I got two gigs offered to me off the back of this performance, at both of which I died an appropriate death.
I stopped performing for a year after that, deciding there were much easier ways of achieving a high. I never stopped thinking about comedy though, obsessing over it – like a first love or an ulcer. I was still jotting down ideas and, eventually, I figured I had enough good ones to have another go at it; I built up the courage and applied for another slot.
I was then gonged off after five minutes.
But it was fun, I didn’t care, I was doing material I was comfortable with and I never had to see any of these people again. (I have seen every comic from that bill on at least one other occasion since, but past-me wasn’t to know this). I came to the realisation that above everything else the reason I was doing this was for the thrill of performing.
Oh, and the desperate craving of fame, money and out-of-my-league-girls.