This week’s session was a very challenging one – aside from watching clips of masterful performers like Rhod Gilbert and Eddie Izzard (incidentally, am I the only person who thinks that the marked decline of Izzard’s act seems to have coincided with his choice to go for a much more macho image when on stage? Like a transvestite version of Samson, the less make-up he wears the less funny he is. Who knew?), we did some exercises designed to get us thinking on our feet. There were several different games; the one I had to do involved talking about my record collection while being repeatedly interjected with questions from the audience, mostly about German war films and whether I’d prefer to have my carnal way with Pat Butcher or Dot Cotton from Eastenders (obviously it’s Dot, because I’m a sucker for a brunette).

This was a really useful exercise, and it’s the kind of thing you’d possibly have to do in a real situation – especially if being confronted by a heckler. I recognise that I’m not particularly quick at thinking on my feet in general, and certainly not being funny at such short notice – although those ad libs and asides/unprepared audience interactions can be especially funny because of the way they are genuinely plucked from the ether with very little time or consideration. I think the audience appreciates that and responds accordingly, because they can see the workings happen live on stage in real-time, which isn’t the case with a set of prepared jokes and observations (as I’m currently out of work I’ve been making the most of watching repeats of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Dave, which is very good for watching such talented comics in an improvisational arena). It was good practice at using the microphone too, as I still don’t have much experience of this yet.

My last blog post was written during a crisis of confidence – since then I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough. I’ve found an ending I’m happy with, and a way of performing it that makes me feel a bit better about the (somewhat dubious) artistic merits of the set. I think I’m going for a style which is very different from most of the other people on the course, and this sudden burst of inspiration has come from thinking about what I like most about some of my favourite acts, and about the ways they perform certain aspects of their material.

I guess the real verdict will be on the night, which is less than two weeks away now. But now things do at least seem to be heading in the right direction.

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