The psychological challenge of the day was returning to basically almost exactly the same place that I’d played 2 days ago to do another gig. This double trip was no one’s fault, except for maybe God for sending the snow storm that saw the Bath gig postponed. And Corsham wasn’t as near to Bath as I thought. It’s actually much nearer to Chippenham where I am playing in about a month. The Bath-Chippenham corridor has been well served with gigs this tour and I wondered if it was worth doing a gig in a tiny arts centre in between those two bigger venues, neither of which is likely to sell out.
Probably not quite in terms of time and effort - a five hour round drive to perform to a maximum of 130 people (and as it turned out more like 110) is probably not something I want to be doing any more. The knock on effects in terms of tiredness are the problem, rather than any feeling that I am bigger or better than this (even though I AM). Yesterday I missed a trip with the kids to see some dinosaurs (they may not have been real), today I saw photos of my family having fun in a wood. You may feel like there are hundreds more days of your life where you could do this sort of stuff. But kids grow up fast and work gets in the way and there’s the possibility of checking out at any second and the work/life thing needs to be balanced.
I managed to get to sleep in this morning and when I came down my daughter was being charming. I see a lot of her first thing in the morning, where she’s generally crabby and wants to see her mum. But now she wanted to play with me and we did some colouring and unbidden she said, “I like you daddy. I’m friends with you.” Which is not totally out of character, but rare enough to be a lovely thing to hear. The granting and retraction of friendship is the main power a child has and I think they understand this. They know it’s a big deal to be friends - it matters to them on a basic human level. They know its currency. I will be in and out of favour for the rest of my life, but today we did some colouring together and it was heart-wrenching to leave.
But 107 or more people in Corsham needed to be entertained and so my heart had to be wrenched, though at least my daughter didn’t say “Oh no, not work again!” as I left. Oh Jim Carrey, did you teach me nothing?
The gig was fine, though the small arts centre crowd were a bit shocked by some of it. As I joked about the stupid things my daughter says and wondered if she was on drugs or just hadn’t been blessed with my intelligence, a posh woman’s voice said, “Shame on you!” It wasn’t 100% clear if this was a joke or if she was genuinely aggrieved (though if that was the case she’d let an awful lot of much worse stuff go). Deliberate or not it was a very funny heckle and I was able to laugh along and riff off it, which is always the best kind of audience interaction. Alas, as with many hecklers she carried on commenting. She was different than the paralytically drunk men in Belfast, but weirdly chose to try to mess up the same bits as them. It worked well for me once as I do the bit which it seems like I am dying and have suddenly lost the ability to be a comedian. I was able to explain to her that I was doing this as a joke and it would all pay off shortly. But when she messed up the bit in the complaint letter where I similarly let things go on a bit before delivering a laugh (it’s all about the timing and any interaction from the audience, except occasionally to preempt where I am going with it) ruins it. So I told her off and was a bit too rude to her, but at least it did the intended job of stopping her joining in any more.
Given there was much worse to come than the stuff that I'd been told I should be ashamed about, I navigated the mild awkwardnesses OK. I think we can call it an away win for me.