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Open mic at the Frog and Bucket

Alastair McCall checks out the competition ahead of his first ever attempt at stand-up comedy

Published on March 17th 2009.

Open mic at the Frog and Bucket

“Alastair likes to see himself as the class clown.”

A sentence that plagued my school reports for years. I’d walk home, clutching the pamphlet of papers, at least two of which would surely contain that legendary phrase. I would then have to spend the evening having an awkward lecture from my mother and father about how it was time I grew up.

I never learnt. Through school, university, even into my professional life, I have strived for the limelight. To entertain my colleagues, usually to the detriment of my personal progression, is more often than not my top priority.

I’ve sat in comedy clubs, seething with jealousy as the man with the microphone fills the room with mirth. After many years of this, I thought it was about time I gave it a go.

So I’ve signed up for Beat the Frog – the Frog and Bucket’s Monday open mic night. I’m booked in for 6 April, there’s no turning back now. Before you ask, yes, I’m crapping myself.

Stand-up has got to be one of the most nerve-racking things to do. Standing in front of an audience charged with one task: make them laugh. It’s all very well sitting in the pub cracking funnies, but I’m not sure mocking my mate Tom because of the way he dresses is going to cut it at the Frog and Bucket.

Last Monday I decided to go down and check out the competition. If you’ve never been to Beat the Frog, this is how it works. First out is a recognised pro stand up, compere for the evening. On Monday it was Dan Nightingale, recently nominated for a Chortle award. He did a great job, involving the audience whilst airing some of his own material, getting the laughs started.

Next up, two comedians who have previously won Beat the Frog, who do ten minutes each. On this occasion Liam Tims and Ray Bradshaw both did well with an audience who I thought were quite kind, having heard horror stories of silent audiences during this section.

After a break the competition begins. Nine aspiring comics step up and try to keep the laughter flowing for five minutes. If successful, the rousing sound of the 'Frog Chorus' rings out. If not, the sickening strains of 'Loser' by Beck – harsh. Judging are three members of the audience, armed with green cards. Once three cards are in the air, the shamefaced contestant is outtathere.

On Monday, five comics managed to last the distance. After a clap-off, Craig Murray was proclaimed champion, having impressed with a piece about being in the check-in queue at the airport.

With over 250 people crammed into the Frog on Monday, the main worry for me is the size of this gig. 250 people laughing sounds great, 250 people sitting in stony silence is a terrifying prospect. I was also quite surprised by the standard. It was obvious that it wasn’t the first time these guys had done this.

I’ve decided to get a warm up gig under my belt. I’m off to the Comedy Balloon at the Ape and Apple, John Dalton Street on 18 March. This will be my first ever stand up gig – if you want to come down and be at the birth of a comedy legend, or watch as I die on my arse, I’ll see you there.

If you can’t be bothered, I’ll let you know how it goes next week.

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A WellwisherMarch 17th 2009.

Wear the brown trousers, it'll be alright on the night! Best of luck.

AgentHAHAMarch 17th 2009.

Good luck to you sir... stand up is very hard indeed! - Gordon Smith is the frog comedy meister down at the bucket, believe!

KodiMarch 17th 2009.

If you want to try a low key warm up gig in a friendly, non-intimidating environment, why don't you give the 'Mirth on Monday' stand up comedy night at Iguana Bar Chorlton a go? http://www.myspace.com/iguanabarmanchester

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