November 23rd 2020
It is accounts day in Grizzly Offices today. I like numbers, I love basic maths so accounts don’t scare me, they bore me. This year they will frustrate me too as I add up what I made up until my April 2020 year end. But I will not dwell on that for long as I have a diary post to write and thinking about my nigh on thirty year career as a pro comedian I decide to think about my favourite ever gigs.
They all have something in common. They were random shows I performed after turning up at local comedy clubs in a new city thousands of miles from home. A lot of comedians, entertainers, claim they have worked ‘all over the world’ I am not sure that is accurate. If you are on a cruise ship traveling around the world full of Brits, are you performing all over the world? I am so proud of the laughs I have received from international guests while showing off on some of the worlds best cruise lines, but the laughs I have created in small clubs on six different continents remain my favourite achievement. Working to audiences in their own backyard is a far better way to gauge if you are actually an international type act.
Six different continents, now without the ships, this wouldn’t have been possible, it was often while I was in hotels waiting to join a ship that I performed many of those shows. My favourite was in Hobart, Australia. I was booked into a hotel for two nights and had a full three days to explore, unusually I found myself in the tourist information office searching for a tour to visit the Port Arthur Historic Site that was on the other side of the island. I spotted a poster advertising Jokers Comedy Club and there was a show scheduled that evening. A few hours later I arrived at Polish Corner just outside Hobart. The room was maybe half full as I paid for my ticket I asked the lady if there was any chance of me being allowed to do a quick ten minutes.
“We don’t usually let people just walk in and get up on stage,” she told me, so I handed her my business card and asked if she would pass it on to Gavin Baskerville, who both produced and hosted these weekly comedy nights, and took my seat at the back of the room. Around the length of my YouTube promo clip later Gavin emerged from the Green Room looking around his audience, spotting me he headed over and asked
“You want to get up and do a short set?”
“I would love to,” I told him, he asked if I wouldn’t mind opening the second half and I told him I was happy anywhere on his bill, returned to my seat to watch the first half. Gavin is a wonderfully warm MC and the audience were quickly laughing away, first ‘comic’ on didn’t get any laughs, he was a cocky and cold performer who I later found out was a cocky and cold person, he was followed by a charming open mic comic. Open mics are integral to any show I put on, I love finding new talent and this guy got a huge laugh. It was the only laugh he got but that was all that was needed that night to give him more confidence for the following night and so it goes until you’re ready to open a show and more. A charming fellow off stage too. During the interval I went to the Green Room for the first time and met all the comics properly. Nath Valvo was headlining the night and he and I hit it off immediately. He didn’t look down at the ‘ship comic’ like the first ‘comic’.
As I waited at the back of the room for Gavin to settle the crowd down and introduce me Ben, the open mic comedian, wandered over to offer some advice.
“Paul, don’t be nervous, it’s a small audience and you should just do what you have planned and not worry about the reaction, they’re not really a laughing crowd.”
I thanked him and went on for my ten minutes, 600 seconds of laughs and fun, including a couple of newer bits, some audience interaction as well as finally feeling comfortable performing stand-up in something other than a freshly pressed suit. It was a lovely reaction from a completely Australian audience.
I walked back into the Green Room and Ben apologised
“You didn’t need any advice from me…I am sorry.”
I told him to never be sorry for trying to help out a fellow comic.
‘You know this room, I don’t. Taking the time to give me some tips was a lovely thing to do. Keep that attitude and you’ll go a long way.”
Shows like this have been performed in Asia, North America, obviously Europe, as well as South America and Antarctica.
Yep, in 2005 I did a show on the Chilean owned Paradise Harbour in Antarctica. Eight of their countries finest military listened to me do a few minutes of jokes in their hut while my mate, Ivan translated into Spanish. Didn’t get paid but I was given a lovely mug.
The only continent I have yet to perform on is South Africa. I came close in 2010. I exchanged some emails with a comedy club owner who had heard about me from a friend of his and we started to negotiate. Ten days in Cape Town performing twelves shows over six nights. No fee but “we will cover your expenses, feed you, put you in a hotel and fly you business class.”
I said I couldn’t do that as much as I would have liked too, I had a young son and a wife, and being away on my own isn’t much of a holiday. A few emails later the offer had changed. Now Thomas, Kelly and I would fly economy to Cape Town for an all-expenses-paid ten day trip. We would spend the last few days of June and the first week of July in Cape Town. Coincidently this was also the time the semi finals and final of that years’ football World Cup finals would be happening.
“I see what you have done here…” I was assured. Happily I waited for my wife to come home from a doctors appointment to give her the good news.
“I have some good news” I tell Kelly as she walks through the door.
“Me too,” she replies.
Me being the gentleman I am say, “you first.”
“I am pregnant! We are going to have another Adams sometime in June.”
And that is why I am still yet to perform on all seven Continents.
Shots of Coffee: 7
Reading: The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza
Listened to: Radio X & Nothing But Thieves
YouTube Tip: Cuba Gooding Jr Oscar Acceptance