My first night at the Riverside was faced with rather stiff competition in the shape of Michael Palin, who was screening a couple of his old TV shows and doing a Q&A session upstairs. I think if I had faced the choice I would have plumped for Palin. Unfortunately I didn't have a choice as I had to be there for my show.
I'd made a few changes and was working with a new tech guy from the Riverside staff so was expecting a bit of a bumpy ride. There were a few mistakes from both me and the technical side, but I got through everything OK. My microphone was making me sound like a robot at the beginning so I decided to do an acoustic set. This might actually have improved things as I was forced to work hard to ensure everything was heard by the capacity audience (alas they were the capacity audience of a much smaller venue, but let's not split hairs) The show was long though, over an hour and a half and it was quite a strain. I actually had stitch for the last twenty minutes. Now if I hadn't been exercising quite a bit this year I could put that down to general un-fitness, but in fact I think it shows how demanding performing can be. I'd been getting used to doing 20 minute sets, so having to talk for 90 minutes (the length of a football match) is no mean feat.
Grub Smith had come along to see the show. Afterwards he told me that he'd felt like he was having a heart attack during the first twenty minutes and was considering leaving the venue to spare me the embarrassment of having to deal with his corpse (I think he just didn't want to relive the humiliation of defeat in the boat race). "I don't know what was wrong with me," said Grub (it's not his real name. He was actually Christened Maggot...ha ha, I am funny)
"Rat syphillis?" I suggested, helpfully.
"No," he replied unconvincingly, knowing as well as I did that the symptoms of heart attacks and rat syphillis are often confused even by the most experienced doctors (largely due to the fact that they assume that human men wouldn't be consorting with rats - an assumption that would be justified in most cases).
During the show I had nearly asked, "Anyone in from Hammersmith Grove?" but had resisted the temptation, though the street did get a mention when the slide of my notebook came up, but there was no excited reaction, so I have to conclude that my leaflet blitz may have been a waste of time. Out of principle I am going to finish off the job tomorrow though.
I was relieved but exhausted after the show. Fingers crossed that word will spread and that I won't be faced by competition from comedy gods like Palin every night of the run.