Failure to Launch

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In my last post, I wrote about my new comedy night ‘Progress Comedy’ Sadly, despite a lot of hard work and my best efforts, the night was a failure. Only two people showed up. But it’s not my first failure so I put a few of them together in a pile of my greatest comedy mistakes. A shit list if you will.

Halloween Howler 

Halloween 2011. I was still new to comedy and managed to get an open spot in one of the more decent comedy clubs in Dublin. I thought it would be funny to go on stage in my costume. It was a Texas Chainsaw Massacre Outfit complete with Leather Face Mask and mini chainsaw.

I arrived at the club with the costume underneath my Jacket and the Mask in my bag. I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do.

As the MC who was also the promoter was calling me on stage, I slipped my jacket off and put on the Mask. The crowd didn’t know what was going on at first. I played like I thought it was a fancy dress gig and the only who showed up in costume. Of course, when I took the Mask off, I got the obligatory “Should left it on mate” comment from someone in the crowd. All in all, it went well.

But the look I got from the Promoter/MC told a different story. I don’t play that club often and when I do, I’m still on the open spot. I learned early on in comedy some people don’t have a sense of humor.

Flopcast 

A few years ago I was living with my then best friend and fellow comedian, let’s call him Mr. Exit (as he was always disappearing.)

He was keen to do a topical comedy news podcast. But due to Mr. Exit shyness of work, it would take him three to six months to edit and put the thing out. Making it more of a historical piece rather than a comment on current affairs.

I was bitten by the podcast bug and wanted to do more. I contacted Joe.ie. An Irish version of Lad-Bible or Qoran-Bloke for our Muslim friends. I pitched them the idea of a funny look at news style podcast. To my shock, I got a reply and women called Mary said: “She liked the idea and wanted to hear a pilot show.”

Mr. Exit and I sat down to record the show. Beforehand I said we should try act more professional and cut down on the swearing.

Within four minutes Mr. Exit said the C-word four times and then said he would shag the hair off of Mary’s hole if she picked up the show. For some strange reason, Mary decided to not go ahead with it. I wonder why?

Hometown Hero

In one of my many attempts to get comedy night going, I ran one back in Co. Offaly in my brother’s bar back in 2015. Thankfully a lot of Friends & Family came to this show. As I said in my last post I was often let down by lying sack of shits who said they would come to a show and never turn up.

The first half consisted of the very funny Ger Staunton and myself. When the MC opened the Second half he did one of his usual tricks.

He said to the crowd “Did you enjoy the first half?”
The crowd “Yeah”

“Did you like John?”
The crowd “Yeah”

“Did you Like Ger?”
The crowd “Yeah”

He would then normally go, “Which one did you like more?” Confusing the crowd by asking a question that wasn’t yeah or no and cutting them off without any time to think of an answer. I never said it was a good trick but he liked doing it.

“Which one did you like more?”
Straight away the crowd cries “Ger”.

Including my Girlfriend. I mean I’m used to hearing her shout out comedians names passionately but just never outside the bedroom.

Upcoming Gigs:

Saturday, November 11. The Stock Exchange, 34 Shop Street, Co. Galway.
Show 7.30 pm.

Sunday, November 12. International Bar, Wicklow Street, Co. Dublin. Show 9.00 pm.

Tuesday, November 14.  Roisin Dubh, Dominick Street, Co. Galway. Show 9.00pm.

Friday, November 24. International Bar, Wicklow Street, Co. Dublin. Show 9.00pm.

Monday, November 27. Wool-Shed Bar & Grill. Parnell Street, Co. Dublin.
Show 9.00pm.

Here a recent clip of me doing the standing and talking:

 

 

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This Is Progress.

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On October 12 in The MVP Dublin 8, I’m running a new comedy night. It’s been almost three years since I last attempted to run a comedy night. Here are a couple of reasons why I stopped doing them:

1. Lying sacks of shit.

When I started comedy I was a lot more naive and trusting. I also didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. Word got out over time. Friends and Family would tell me they would love to see me perform in person.  A couple of local lads and myself put on a show in town. Loads of people showed up but also loads didn’t.

When I saw them again there were lame excuses for why they didn’t go (My dog was sick, It was raining, my mom died etc.) and then they said they would go to the next one. Trusting them I put on another show and they still didn’t come. When I saw them again they made more excuses and promises of coming to the next show. I told them to shove it and that the next show would be in my ass. Probably why my Granny doesn’t talk to me anymore.

 

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This is from our Second Tullamore show in 2011. Gerry McBride and I are the only ones still doing stand up.

2. Lying sacks of shit.

After Tullamore fizzled out, I targeted Mullingar next. Famous for is the statute of minorly successful local singer Joe Dolan.

I sent an e-mail the event manager of one of the local bars. He responded straight away to set up a meeting. The meeting went great. We chatted for over an hour about our ideas and goals for the night. He asks me to book the first three months of acts in advance, so he could take out ads in the paper and get posters up to establish the comedy night as a regular thing. The bar would handle all promotional costs and I won’t be charged for the room or any costs like microphones, sound guy etc. I would keep the ticket money to pay the acts.

I went home and booked the acts for February, March, and April. I sent information & pictures on all the acts to the Event manager, let’s call him Steve and he took over from there.

A couple of weeks before the show I yet to see any promotion done, not even a mention on the pub’s social media. I was in contact with Steve and he said it would be sorted soon and that he didn’t have access to their social media. This should have been a warning to me. How the hell does the event manager not have access to the social media account? But I didn’t take notice at the time and trusted him.

The next day I got a call from Steve saying that I was now going to be charged for using the room, the equipment, and a sound engineer. It was going to cost me 500 euro and 10 percent of my ticket sales. Even Naive Johnny could tell something was wrong here. I ask him to e-mail an invoice for the costs straight away. I planned on printing e-mail off and bringing it to the owner of the bar.

Next day I get an e-mail from Steve saying he had stepped down as the event manager.
I went to the owner of the bar, a very nice old man, let’s call him Jack. He had let Steve take over booking and running events as he no interest in doing them anymore. But Steve had no real control over money or promotional matters. It seems Steve was trying to get money off acts and hope Jack won’t find out but it appeared someone else had brought it to Jack’s attention and Steve ran off before anything could be done about it.

I was left with two weeks before the first show, no promotion done and Jack won’t offer any financial support. I was crushed. But I had a show to put on and in a couple of days got the posters done and put them up around town myself. I Contacted the local radio and newspaper’s to get some free plugs. Doing what I could on Social media to get the word out.

In the end, we got a good crowd in for the first show. The second was a failure and the third was a nice send-off for the night.

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Our second Mullingar show. Neil now writes plays. FJ works with Men’s mental health groups. Donal is on the verge of becoming a comedy superstar. Gary is the king of Edinburgh every year.

It wasn’t all bad. From the Tullamore shows it was great that my Mother came out to watch me. This is a woman who the only way to get her out of the house is probably by setting the house on fire. My Nephew even got on a stage and told a joke. Yes he was funnier then me.

From the Mullingar shows Alison Spittle mother having a go at one of the comideans for asking her a question. Paying Al Porter 5 euro for doing the show. Which he was very gratefull for at the time. I might have to put a few zero’s on the fiver if I was going to book him now.

One more time I’m putting on a show. MVP Bar Dublin 8. Doors open at 9 and the show is at 9.30 pm. October 12.

We have the wonderful Richie Bree fresh off winning the Laughter Lounge new act competition. Plus Pauline Shannon & Ashlee Bentley both regulars at the comedy festival circuit and hot newcomer Terry Norman.  I will be your MC because I’m willing to work for free.

Comp-Land

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I talked before about some of the competitions I have done over the years and with The Irish Comedian of the year kicking off again this September. I bitterly look back at some of the more doggier ones I was around for.

Just give us the fucking money:

A few years ago a comedian who got some T.V. expose, decided to use the bit of a buzz he had to open his own club.

He did the common thing of blowing his money on a well-known headliner for the first night and having nothing for the next week with the headliner being your Ma.

After 5 or 6 weeks the club decided to hold a competition out of nowhere.  It was a clear sign that the club was struggling.

It was a one night only comp where all 12 acts had to pay 10 euro to enter. With the winner getting 50 euro. I’m sure you can do the math. The club would keep 70 euro and hopefully get a full room. The club ended soon after that and the comedian had shaken down his compadres for a measly 70 euro.

I didn’t fall for that scam but I did for another. I entered a comp with a 5 euro “administration fee”. I was new to comedy at the time and thought this was a genuine thing.

It was done over four nights with 10 acts each night, making a nice 400 for the promoter and the winner got to play an unpaid slot at one of those crap “where not Electic picnic, but god do we want to be ” festivals in a field in some place like Dundalk.

A Face for Podcast.

A while back I went to London to do the Amused Moose New Act Competition.

My heat was on in the middle of the day. Which worked out great for me. As I flew in that morning and left that night avoiding hotel costs, having to take two days off work and acid attacks which are common in London.

The room was made up of thirty other acts. We all had 90 seconds each. It was an interesting experiment to cut your set down to that short of a time. I normally only do 90 seconds in the bedroom. (Boom Boom).

The person running the show was Hils Jago. Whos a bit like a cross between a mad person and an insane person. She discovered Jimmy Carr. If you didn’t know this she only said it fifty times as she was giving us the run down of the rules. It’s like a singer who a had one hit song who keeps mentioning it every ten seconds.

It was during this she told what she was looking for. The person who could be the next face of Channel Four. It was at this stage I realized my error. I mean those this look like the Face of Channel Four:

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Upcoming Gigs:

September 5th. (MC)Camden Comedy, Anseo, 18 Camden Street Lower, Dublin. 
Start time 8.30 pm.

September 7th. (MC) Battle of the Axe, Templer Bar Dublin.
Start time 9.00 pm.

September 22nd. Gluten Free Comedy as part of Culture Night Belfast, Kelly’s Cellars, Bank Street, Belfast. Start time 8.00 pm.

September 23rd. Chex Le Fab Kids Comedy Show, Arthurs Quay, Limerick
Start time 2.00 pm.

September 23rd. Chex Le Fab Comedy Festival, Arthurs Quay, Limerick.
Start time 8.00 pm.

October 13th. (MC) Laugh out Louth Festival, McPhails Bar, Laurence Street, Drogheda.
Start time 8.00 pm.

 

MC Hammered

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This is how I like to MC. I’m not saying your wrong if you do it a different way, It’s just my style. So don’t jump me in the comments or in real life on how you prefer to do only new stuff when you MC a gig. (This has been said to me by two different stand-up’s, how they use MC’ing to do new stuff. They don’t MC that much anymore.)

1. Starting Places.

Make sure all the acts know when they’re on and how long they got. Especially if you’re dealing with newer people. Stress how important it is not to go over their time. Let them know you’re going to Flash when they got two minutes left. Also, more experienced acts might try to take the piss, don’t be afraid to threaten their life and the ones they love if they go over there time. Remember we have no union or human resources department in comedy.

2. Hot Start.

Try to start on time. I have seen the audience grow annoyed because the MC is waiting “another” five minutes in the hope of bus load of people might come in. You just end up pissing off the people who were there on time. If it’s a small crowd just go for it. Don’t keep bringing up how small they are or how awful this gig going to be due to how few of them they are. (Yes this has happened to me. I was on first and the MC was clearly annoyed that the gig went ahead with a small crowd and just blamed them for it. Can you guess how the gig went?)

3. The Heavy lifting.

I feel your job is to get all the boring stuff out of the way. Starting with how the format going to work (It could be someone first time to a comedy club), the house rules (No talking, being on your phone, trying to contact the dead) and do crowd work (where is everyone from/what do you work at etc).
I only like to do 7-10 minutes off the top. Not chatting to everyone but a few just to get the ball rolling. I have been there as an audience member where the MC takes 20 minutes going through everyone asking the same questions. I feel it drains a crowd. Don’t forget your on all night, you can get talk to people later on.

4. That awkward bit.

I always find after the first act the crowd takes a mini break. Some run to the loo or to grab a drink. It’s up to you to kill that five minutes till everyone settles back in. This can happen at any stage of the night so be ready for it. You don’t want to bring an act on to a room that’s in flux. Wait till there back and focused on you. It can be hard going up after a really bad comedian (Usually a young man talking about wanking & abortion. I have no idea why but this always seems to be the case.) But try to get the room fired up. I like to piggy back off what a comedian has talked about in their set, to give the night a more conventional flavor.

5. Bits and Bob’s.

Anything you can do to break the ice is a good idea. Taking a group photo (People love getting their picture taken unless they’re a vampire or Dorian Gray). Don’t forget to thank the bar staff, the acts and most importantly the audience at the end of the night.

I also hope you never have to do a raffle. I had to do one once. It dragged the whole night down. This lad called Barry won the main prize. A signed copy of “The Commitments” by Roddy Doyle. He then told us he couldn’t’ read. We then gave him the second prize “The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit” Boxset. He then said he didn’t have a DVD player. I said you’re taking the third prize no matter what.  It was a fifty euro gift voucher for the local hairdresser. Of course, Barry had to be bald.

The cover picture is of me being drunk and trying to be sexy. I was successful at neither.

Come see me at:

The WoolShed, Parnell Street, Dublin. August 14th from 9.00pm.

The Bowery, Rathmines Rd, Dublin. August 21st from 9.00pm.

The Battle of the Axe, Temple Bar, Dublin. September 7th. 9.30pm.  Where I will be MC’ing. So you can sit at the back with your arms folded and judge my MC’ing for yourself. Please don’t do this as it will lead to a bad atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Top.

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“Where do you get your ideas for jokes from?” Someone asked me recently. This is what I told them.

Let’s take One of my joke’s: “I really love films, especially black and white ones, like Lethal Weapon.”

Before I was a failed stand up comedian. I was a failed filmmaker. Growing up I always wanted to be creative somehow. But I was always too shy and untalented to do anything.

I always loved film and as I got into my late teens, what I wanted was to be a movie writer, maybe even a producer. This was odd. As most people wanted to be an Actor or Director. Also, I didn’t really know what a producer did.

This was before I had the internet and there weren’t any film schools in my town, hell we barely had a regular school. I watched a lot of films, DVD extras, and listened to directors commentaries.

I came across a quote that inspires me. “If you can watch a film you can make one.”

This was not true. My attempts were awful. I had no money, clue or a support network.
Except for one of my friends, called Sean.

Sean wanted to make movies too. He was into directing and editing. His awful films were much better than my god awful films. So we teamed up.

One day he said “I have an idea for a movie. You write it and I direct it.” We saved up our money to buy a decent camera while I was writing the script.

The project was called 10-48. It was very much inspired by the Saw films. Two different groups of people wake up in the forest. Not knowing each other or why they are there. Then the two groups are pitted against each other. Where the winner’s get to walk away with their life’s.

It came in at a massive 40 plus pages. There was also something like 16 characters in it, along with a lot of action scenes.

1048

A rare time anyone used the script while filming 10-48.

It took two years to make and even at that, we didn’t get all the footage we wanted.

The main issue was that Sean lost his passion for the project pretty fast. Sean could only shoot on the weekends, would show up late and not really have clue to what was going on.

I was left to do everything. All my spare time and money went into 10-48. From going around to getting the props and costumes, or having to make them myself. To finding locations we could shoot on, getting the cast together and sorting the transport.

We would have massive fights all the time over it and finally, I stepped aside. From the footage we had. Sean managed to cobble together a working movie. After all that work it came out like nothing we hoped for and I had lost my friendship with Sean over it. I never wanted anything to do with making films after that.

But Mike, a guy I knew from school, hounded me for a year to make a movie with him. I told him about how people had let me down, not just Sean. Other people would be all keen to act in it. But when the time came they no showed.

Mike promised he wasn’t like that and after a year of asking me, I caved in. I came up with the simplest idea. A mock interview. Mike would play a director who’s a bit full of himself and I would play the interviewer.

The day of the shoot I was all ready to go. Mike was a bit late do. Then he was over an hour late. I sent him a text. No reply. Almost two hours later he sends a text back saying he can’t make it with no reason given. I didn’t speak to him again after that.

I liked the idea of the delusional director. I developed it bit more. Making it into a mock documentary about a snotty director poking fun at a young director who looked up to the likes of Micheal Bay instead of Martin Scorsese.

During one of these exchanges, the snotty director tries to undermine the younger director, by asking has he ever seen any black and white films? The younger director responds by saying:
“Yeah, black and white films, like Lethal Weapon.”

That’s where the joke came from. I said to the imaginary person who I pretend asked me that question. For the elaborate set up for this blog entry.

After doing stand up. I finally had the confidence to write and direct my own short film called “D.T.A”. It’s not great but it’s ok. The Irish motto.

I can only find the trailer for the film Sean and I made:

The link to D.T.A:

Thanks for reading guys. Some of my Upcoming gigs:

Jesters Comedy Club, Co. Dublin. July 26. 8.00pm.

Gorey Comedy Club,  Co. Wexford July 28. 9.00pm

The Comedy Crunch, Co. Dublin. July 30. 8.30pm.

Daniel Kiston and on on on.

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Holidays. I hate them. I mean I hate work so it’s nice to be off work but I don’t really like going anywhere. Since I was always single I was traveling by myself which was always awful.

Since starting comedy back in 2011 I used my holidays to do gigs. For the past three years that mostly means using them to do the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

But this year my partner and I (who is also a comedian) agreed to have a non-comedy holiday. Just go somewhere and not do any gigs. Just walk around, do tourist things.
(I know so boring).

During our four day visit to London on our non-comedy holiday. We went to two stand-up comedy shows, a comedy film, and a comedy play. So we really nailed the non-comedy thing.

We managed to get two tickets to Daniel Kitson work in progress show. It was in Angel comedy club at the Bill Murray bar. Sadly despite looking I couldn’t find the Dan Ankroyd barbecue pit or the Jim Belushi Gym.

Being honest I only heard about Daniel, never seen any of his work. He is very underground shunning any mainstream attention. My girlfriend is a fan of him and happy to sit through stuff to make her happy. Except Bridget Jones 2 and her smear test.

Arriving at the venue we were greeted by, Kevin O’Connell. Kev is a young comedian from Ireland who betrayed his country by going to England to further his comedy career and to finish his collection of retro Coke cans. Kev is also the first person in real life who’s said they have read this blog.

The club was full (About 50-60 people). It was late (10.30) and sweaty. Daniel casually walked to the stage in shorts and a t-shirt. He had a little desk where he put his 40 pages of notes on and told us it would take 1 hour and 40 minutes to get through it.

He tears into his pages almost like reading a novel out loud. Through the story, Daniel starts seven or eight narratives about various things in his life. Like Living alone, Isis and getting a seat in a restaurant by yourself and kept them all going throughout the show.

There wasn’t much in the way of crowd interaction. Expect close to the end where you got very angry when he heard someone talking.

Being honest I hate when people read off notes and this was closer to storytelling than stand-up. I know that’s is a contentious issue dividing comedy into sections. I can hear someone now “Who are you to divide comedy into groups? Bet your pro-Segregation, you racist bastard”.

But it was funny in places and I was engaged throughout the almost two-hour length of the show.

Afterward, I asked the mother of my hamster was this typical of Daniel’s work?
She said no, his regular stand-up is completely different. I would definitely like to check out one his “normal” show via his website or in person.

Which is clearly a sign I liked his work. Becuase after seeing Rob Beckett live, I never want to see his face again.

Come see MC The Battle of The Axe in Temple Bar, Dublin on 13/07/17 from 9 pm.

Pro for Pro.

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I recently responded to post on “Rent-A-Comic”. For those that don’t know “Rent-A-Comic” is a group on Facebook for Irish Comedians. Where people post slots for gigs, get mad at the lack of women on the Irish comedy scene and ad’s for half price sunglasses when the page gets hacked.

The post read “Looking for a headliner (20-30 minutes) for an upcoming charity gig. Sadly can’t pay, please pm.”

I know you what you’re going to say. “You shouldn’t do 20-30 minutes for no money and remake the Mummy with Tom Cruise .”

Your right of course. But I often don’t get to do 20 plus minutes, the gig was pretty close to where I live and knew the guy running it. His pretty new to comedy and didn’t want him to get lumbered with someone who would just say they could “Headline”.

Recently I was part of a gig, where the “Headliner” was a newer comedian. He had about 7 maybe 10 minutes. The rest was him trying out new stuff and reading things off his notepad. It was brutal as you can imagine.

The best one ever was the comedian who’s set was on his tablet. While on stage he was struggling to recall his set. He pulls out his tablet. It was in sleeping mode. He had to start it up, put in his password and had to scroll to find the section where his set was written. It took two minutes for all that but it felt like two hours. Worse of all it wasn’t even funny.

I messaged the promoter about the charity gig and the response I got was “Thanks for applying but looking to get someone with T.V. or Internet Credits.”

I’m sure you all thought the same thing I did. I bet you, Dara O Briain, will gladly come over for free to do the gig. Sure he might even mow the lawn for you while he’s at it.

The point I guess I’m trying to make you have to be realistic and professional when contacting people.  This works both ways of course.

When I was starting out a friend of mine e-mailed a comedian. The e-mail was really nice and asked him to do the gig for fifty euro.  My friend had no idea what people charged to do shows and even admitted this in the e-mail.

The response he got back was disgusting. The comedian tore into him. Going on about how dare he offered him such a low amount and went on about being a professional.
I would say being a “professional” would be responding like one. If I naively made a low offer to a painter for a job, I doubt he responds by smearing poo all over my house and saying “You wanted a brown color didn’t you?”.  Which would be a lie, who wants a brown color for their house?.

To sum it all up let’s quote Jesus Christ “Do to others as you would them to do to you.”
“Love they neighbor” & “Let’s get this party started.”

I’m off to London for a week. But on July 10 I’m in Manchester doing Beat the Frog.
Then in Dublin July 13 hosting the Battle of The Axe.

Check out the podcast I did with the comedy cast: