Last week on Thursday, after writing a blog entry about creative rejection, I went to put myself up for the ultimate creative rejection – a comedy competition. I’m not sure why I keep entering them, but for some reason I do. I’ve done okay in a few in the past, sometimes progressing to the next round, and I even came third runner up in What The Frock! Newcomer Award 2014. I put that down to the fact it was on the day I had found out my dad died. I’d already dealt with a massive life event that day, so getting on stage for a competition somewhat paled in comparison.
But generally I get more nervous than usual, put pressure on myself and then don’t put in my best performance. Alternatively if I have put in a good performance and I don’t place in the competition, or progress to the next round, I find it takes the edge off the fact I’ve had a good gig, which is annoying. I’ve been advised by other comedians to just treat them like just another gig, so I decided that’s what I would do.
I arrived at the gig, a small dimly lit back room (but with no door so you could still hear noise from the bar). A blue hue surrounded the space, which also matched the temperature of the room.
The comperes were a surreal pair – two men dressed in matching suits, one of them played the drums while the other told old fashioned jokes about killing his wife or having a sex doll. Cymbals were hit to indicate punchlines. The drums player also sometimes did political songs on a banjo. The opening act (not part of the competition) warmed up the crowd a bit more, but I was not optimistic about how the night would go. This was a self-contained competition, with no future rounds, so only one person could win. I remember thinking 1 in 10 is not great odds.
I was also thinking about the fact that I was the only woman on the whole evening, and the fact that it can make it look to the audience like female comedians are some sort of rare anomaly. Sometimes it’s better to have more women on with you, so it doesn’t feel so much like tokenism. In retrospect, this probably made me stand out, so it could have been a good thing.
I was on second, and thought I did pretty well. I decided to go for it and do a couple of my darker jokes, which I probably wouldn’t normally do in a competition, but the crowd seemed to like it. I didn’t know whether I had done enough to win, but I was pleased with my performance.
At the end of the night the comperes called out two names they had thought had done the best to come back onto the stage and my name was one of them! The other was an older man called Jimbo who was a bit of a character, and did a set involving bodily functions when you get older. I was surprised that Ben Clover had not been called, as I thought he had done really well.
One of the comperes said my name to get the audience to cheer and they cheered a reasonable amount, I thought the other guy is definitely going to get a louder cheer, but then they said his name and the crowd cheered even less! I had won! I had finally won a comedy competition! Plus 50 quid prize! And a little trophy! They gave me the microphone to say something, but I was a giggling happy wreck and just thanked the audience. Twice. While grinning insanely.
Does this mean I will be entering more competitions in future? Maybe. And if I do, I’m sure I will be more confident, and remember to treat it just like any other gig. I am also going to prepare a mini speech for next time. After all, this is probably the closest I will ever get to winning an Oscar.