25 October 2005

Back to uni

Don't read the subject line and panic. I haven't gone back on my vow that I never want to write another essay in my life and gone and signed up for a Masters or something equally silly.

It's bad enough that I still have nightmares that I've got upcoming deadlines and I'm not sure what I'm meant to be writing about, or when exactly the deadline is. At least these days I can reassure myself that it was just a bad dream. My degree is all over now. Yes, I did rubbish in it because I never did any work. But, it's all in the past. Now go back to sleep Lisy, it's alright.


On Saturday night I performed at the Comedy Night in the students union at Brunel.

And I thought that place was a shithole when I was a student. It's now just one great big building site (though it does still in places have the A Clockwork Orange look going on. Unsurprising really as it remains depressingly concrete which was what made Kubrick think it an ideal location for shooting the film. For three years I had my lectures in the building which made for the block of flats in which the protagonist in that movie lived). Twenty five minutes it took me to find the way in to the SU because they've moved and hidden the door. When I finally followed someone going in I realised that I'd passed the door twice. I just got confused by the sign next to it saying "Protective headgear must be worn beyond this point." I knew The Academy could get a bit rough, but...

I must confess, I had been dreading the evening. Once during my three years at Brunel I went to the comedy night. The audience were so rude to the acts (not even heckling, just flat out ignoring) that I decided that, actually, I'd head into Central London to get my comedic fixes. And then, 2 and a half years after leaving, here was I not only going back, but, actually getting up on the stage in front of these people.

As soon as I entered the building, I thought I was going to be sick. That wasn't nerves mind, that was because of the smell of alcohol and still being hungover from 2 nights earlier. Then I went to go to the bathroom and some delightful student had chundered in the sink in the crip bog. That smell didn't help my uneasy stomach either.

The difference about between being a "performer" and being a student became clear then. A member of venue staff had had to show me where the disabled toilet was, seeing as it had moved since I graduated. If I tried to go in the spot where the disabled toilet used to be, I'd have ended up squatting behind the bar. Upon seeing the sick filled sink, he went, "Oh, no! Don't go in there! I'll clean that up first!" I do seem to recall several times whilst a student mentioning that the disabled toilet was flooded and being greeted with a "yeah, so?"

In amongst my dread of going back, there was one thing I was desperately looking forward to. I was going to get to perform upon a stage which had been performed upon by none other than the great Tiffany herself (yes, the one who thought she was alone now) just two and a half years earlier. Imagine my disappointment when the new look Academy came into full view, and the stage had gone and been replaced by another!?! My hopes dashed, I decided to go and sit backstage and hang out with the other comics until showtime.

It appears that when they refurbished The Academy, the one bit they forgot to do was "The Guest Room." When I say "it was a toilet" I don't mean it was a bit icky. I mean it was an actual toilet. With no seat. And a paint spattered brown sofa in the corner.

One of the comedians I recognised as soon as I entered the room. Which surprised me because my face recognition is appalling. Very often comics will say to me "Oh, I remember you, we gigged together at ......," and I never recognise them. Until they get on stage and suddenly I find myself about to recall their set almost word for word. And, sure enough, she got about halfway through her set and suddenly I was able to recall where, when, and who promoted the gig we did together.

The night was MCed by the comedy double act best known as Big Cook Little Cook. It is remarkably entertaining to watch children's TV presenters singing silly songs about sex. It feels slightly naughty, even though no-one in the room is in fact under 18.

I was on in the middle section of the show. I went on stage, still disappointed that it's not the same one on which Tiffany had walked. I told my first joke, and the audience laughed so loudly for so long at one point I feared I wouldn't get another one out in my allotted time slot. My nerves and nightmares had all been for nothing, as Brunel apparently now has nice students. Well, they'd have to be to put up with paying all that money to do their degree on a building site I suppose. When I came out to them as a Brunel graduate they all cheered at me, surprisingly not quite as loudly as when I came out to them as an Essex girl though. It was quite nice to be gigging on familiar territory as even "so, does the fire alarm still go off in Mill Hall five times a night?" got a laugh (Mill being the hall of residence in which I resided in my first year).

I fear that several of my punchlines may have gotten drowned out by the laughter which kicked in two words into the line. But, fuck it. I was there to make them laugh, and I did. Even if I couldn't even hear my own punchlines over the laughter because it was so loud.

As I said my farewell, I said "It was a pleasure to come back." And, you know what? I actually meant it.

I came off the stage and a girl I'd never met before flung her arms around me and told me how amazing I was. She seemed "bubbly, friendly and outgoing" rather than "scary," so I hugged her back and said "thanks," rather than flinching and shrieking. I like that kind of feedback, so whenever I see an act I enjoy I make every effort to tell them. Mind you, I do also try to keep my arms to myself as I'm sure that to most folks I come across as "nut."

This time last week I couldn't imagine me typing this... but, I want to do it again!


  1. Sounds like the gig went really well. Good stuff.

    As a resident of teh wonderful county of Essex I was wondering do you ever get to do any gigs round these parts. I'm a south-east essex boy myself. There are comedy clubs in Southend (the infamous Joker) and I know there is some stuff going on at Colchester Arts.

    Do you do much in our home county? I'd love to get the opportunity to catch you live.


  2. I'm actually doing Essex Uni in Colchester next month. I think it's NUS card holders only though.

    My parents live in Clacton, and they've never seen me gig.

  3. Ah damn. Don't think I'd get away with being a student.

    I'll tell my mate though her duaghter has just started at Essex Uni.

    Ah Clacton, many a childhood holiday was spent at Highfields Caravan Park just up the road from the Robin Hood pub.

  4. Hi Lisy, Your gig sounded good and hope that all the students liked you and glad that they laughed when you talked about your hall of residence. What were the guys like from Big Cook, Little Cook, I've read up on them and they're called Electric Forecast for their comedy act!

    I bet it must be wierd seeing children's presenters being brash about adult stuff and then seeing them on a kids programme.

  5. 'I think we're alone now' was the first single I ever bought...