14 April 2010

2 Very Different Devon Open Mics

For some unknown reason creative block had shifted earlier in the day and I finished two poems including my first super-positive (yet not soppy) love poem.  It was the product of a 4 month drive to write something that just makes people smile without a negative twist or gritty analysis of contemporary Britian.  It's called Junk Food Date and is about the intertwining relationships between me, a girl and junk food.

On Monday night I attended Oddfellows open mic.  The night, which has recently been taken over by new host, Simon, is gaining momentum and frequently fills the tiny Exeter venue with quality performers and a polite audience.  When Simon requested silence for the poetry everybody in the room happily obliged and as such I was able to produce a crisp and focussed performance of my new works, resulting in a fantastic response.  A member of the audience who was there scouting for talent invited me to read on his forthcoming Phonic FM show and I even had someone at the back yell "Read the one about Russia" which put a smile on my face.  It's nice to be remembered.

The benefits of warming up my face muscles and voice prior to reading is becoming very evident.  I have started reciting tongue-twisters before going on stage.  As well as a few of my own difficult combinations of sounds I have been using the ones Ron Burgundy does in the intro of Anchorman. To write your own tongue twister simply find two words that use the same sounds but in a different order and pronounce them in rapid concession.  The Paedophile's Feeder Pile or Scooter racers' re-route skaters through suitcases.

The following day, Tuesday (last night) I attended Ride Cafe's open mic in Plymouth. I found a tough crowd consisting mainly of young university students. A lot of ambient noise and a lack of audience etiquette. Very different to the previous evening.  But by exaggerating my performance and really throwing my voice around the room I was able to overcome the ignorant mass and gain the support of a hardcore niche of people who were paying attention to the performers on stage. I think my humiliation of a heckler earned me some respect too. The host, Joe, seemed embarrassed of the audience and congratulated and apologised in equal measure, actually taking the defensive move to call the audience a "bunch of pussies" on the mic immediately after my set, which I found highly flattering and amusing.

It was a unique, adrenaline pumped experience for me which resulted in more post-performance hand-shakes than any previous reading. I would recommend every performer try playing to a crowd like this at least once, even as a conditioning exercise.  It's the straight-out-of-college-uni-student mentality and is probably one of the hardest social barriers anyone could attempt to battle.

So with a sore throat flagging up the first signs of a cold virus and two new business cards to add to my address book I can look back on these past 72 hours and smile at the memories of two very different open mic experiences.

Thanks to Steph Howe, Josh Enright, Greg Brookes and Chris Good for their support.