A week in the life of a stand-up comedian begins in hilarity and ends in tears.
. . . and recently, too, a wild variety of stuff has happened at shows. Why only last night I threw a chair at someone in the crowd. But that is another story and one as yet that I don't look good in.
And so then I did this show at the Highland Man bar under the central bridge where they now have fans to move the air before it solidifies into a kind of exhaust-fume lard. I get to the gig at the last minute before going on, except this isn't the last minute and I am not sure I want to stand around among the folk watching the other acts. So I go off across the road to the Arches where Ed buys me half-price rum cocktails and I get asked to compere the Scottish Fashion Show. I like models.
Billy the promoter finds me here and takes me back and I fall on a chair which snaps and nips my inner thigh badly causing the bruising that comes up like bad weather three days later. I smash the chair up completely to arm myself with Buffy stakes and mock the
something is distinct, it is me, my voice, my true life, and sometimes it is just closer to breakneck free-association random definition.
A lady didn't get it and I sang a song to her and it was an odd turn around because she had nowhere to go. Usually the crowd are hidden from the show folk and the show folk from the crowd to help each other get it on; here she had nowhere to go and looked quite uncomfortable in the way she was left out of something she therefore was finding it hard to enjoy.
At the end I sat among folk and somebody thanked me in a way that I had never seen before; like she had had a fitness class, she thanked me like I had given her a massage, she looked refreshed and relieved and revitalised. With such a wee crowd we had the idea to do it regularly, and try and get the same crowd each time.
I have been able to play venues regularly, and I think it is a strong concept to play the same people. Exclamation mark.
So now the best one, three days later, the last of some gigs in Paris. I walked around all day and discovered the city and ended up making two of the three hours of the show all about the day I had had: escaping from the underground, doing a runner from a restaurant on top of Le Grand Arch,
doorstaff and ride ' . 313:3:de a large I can t be part of standlng on the cube gzweﬁgz'gjfo?” balcony and pissing on the Champs umbrella like I ballerinas- Elmsaijesha?:e was floating elever?
away on a magical balloon, singing songs. There's a guitar and I manage to piece together a song about the modernity and psychotropic nature of adult cartoons that are showing on the monitors.
There is one of the good moments, the greatest moments, the moments I live for when I am just singing and in a pause between words, with nothing to say, just waiting to take my next breath, waiting for the next thing to become apparent, convinced that there is enough in each moment to sing about and, lo and behold, a man calls something out that I can rhyme into the song, incorporate it, embrace it, suck it in, let it be an example of what ‘timing' is a description of; that things come when they are needed. I leave the stage and the building at the same time and walk away with Desmond who drives.
The next evening I do a full sell-out show, every single ticket sold out in advance, 45 places snapped up, in Tchaiovna Tea Rooms. It is run by some friends of mine and they have organic teas in a calm environment and people take their shoes off and stay for hours and there is jazz on a Wednesday and weekend oddities.
We called the night ‘Salon De-selective’ and I just rambled and stood in a corner with a thinnish standard lamp that was
like a quarter of my granny’s front room.
People were really close and the whole of my thing is getting a lot closer too. Closer to something and sometimes that
6 THE lIST IS Feb—I Mar 2001
lanes of traffic on the roundabout and up to the eternal flame beneath L'Arc de Triumphe, the arch for returning soldiers, for those who would claim the city as theirs, for those who have marched triumphantly up, and | warmed my hands over the flames. There is a rope barrier there to remind folk that they cannot go there; they need not have an electrified fence for people keep themselves back. The rope is there to remind people that they themselves are the only thing that stops them.
The gigs were in a small restaurant called Le Hotel du Nord and people are mostly British and work in Paris or places like Luxembourg. There is a freedom to be felt in foreign countries and je le felt.
Last night I threw the chair at folk who I had pleaded to stop talking, been over to beg and asked so many times. To be honest I do not really care for me, I just care that they can ignore the genuine pleas of a person who they are heavily affecting with their vibe. Also it is hard to get stuff when you talk, yet you talk because you don’t like what you hear. There is always, though, more listening.
I can't ignore it and continue in a room where others are listening, I can't be part of standing on the balcony and pissing on the ballerinas. I shall, however, never throw a chair again, especially as I hit someone who was not involved.
Famespotting Colin Currie
Who he? He's the solonst about to perform the world premiere of Michael Torke's PercuSSIon Concerto wuth the RSNO. Where's he from? He was born In Edinburgh III 1976. What's so good about him? Well, at the age of fifteen he won the Gold Medal of the Shell/LondOn Symphony Orchestra MUSIC Scholarship, In I994 he became the first perCUSSIon finalist In the BBC Young Musloan of the Year competition, performing live to a I Im VIGWGIS. He has gone on to give over 30 performances of James Maclvllllan’s percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanue/ Need I go on? No, no, we get the idea. But why did he choose percussion? 'lt’s the most powerful Instrument — and the most bassc,’ he says. ’Even while I was crawling l was banging about. My parents allowed me to develop and I got lessons at age fwe.’ But percussion's not just one instrument; how many does he have to play? Potentially hundreds. ’Every type of muslc In the world has percussmn,’ he says 'Even Wllhln the orchestra, playing a pair of cymbals IS very different from playing the xylophone, but you have to be able to play rt all.’ So what's the most unusual instrument he's had to play? He had to break some glass llVe on stage. ’That was QUIIG scary,’ he admits, ’I had to take a hammer to a pane of glass and tIp It Into a bucket. It looked a but funny, but SOunded qune " lnterestung.’ How about the physical aspect? Not easy. 'I spend all day on my feet practising,