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How to be a comedian – Part 2

Alastair McCall kills butterflies and gets bitten by the rabid dog of comedy

Published on April 1st 2009.


How to be a comedian – Part 2

300 seconds doesn’t sound like a very long time does it?

Five little minutes, five moments in time. All I had to do was fill those 300 seconds with humour. Keep the assembled masses rolling in the aisles for five minutes. In truth I’d have been happy if I could raise one audible laugh, just one.

On Wednesday evening last week I nervously made my way to the Ape & Apple on John Dalton Street for “Comedy Balloon”. Every week the first floor of the pub is given over to this free comedy night where local comics can try out their material on a small but appreciative crowd in a more forgiving atmosphere than the Frog & Bucket or the Comedy Store.

Arriving at the pub I thought I’d have a pint of Kronenburg to take the edge off. After informing me that Kronenburg was off, the barmaid offered me Holts own Diamond lager as it was “the same strength”. Bollocks to taste, strength is what was needed.

I was on in the second half, once the audience had warmed up a bit. Whilst this was good in terms of performing to a well-oiled crowd, it unfortunately meant sitting through the first half, necking pints of Diamond, convincing myself that my set was a load of tosh.

To be fair, the atmosphere was lovely, the audience were friendly, the other acts very welcoming and MC Jacqui Pointon was great, putting me at ease before my terrifying five minute stint.

In the end, my set passed by in a flurry of toilet humour and nob gags and I was surprised and pleased that I didn’t die on my arse. In fact I got a couple of quite raucous laughs. And here’s the confession…..I liked it.

In fact I loved it, there’s a great thrill in making people laugh, even greater when those people are complete strangers. Ok, it was far from perfect and I’ve got a long way to go before I’m selling out the MEN arena and bringing out a DVD but when you consider the great names that started in Manchester’s comedy clubs, that dream just got one step closer.

However, I’m still a country mile from that point just yet. I’ve enlisted some help carving my rather puerile set into something presentable before my big night at the Frog in April. John Warburton, 2004 City Life Comedian of the year has been living the dream for years now and has agreed to have a listen to my material and tell me what he thinks. Of course, if he tells me it’s a load of crap I’ll only have a week to get back to the drawing board. Not sure if this is a great idea on reflection….

This is Alistair McCall second in his series on becoming a comedian. Click here for the first part.

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