'It's good to learn just how bad you can be'
As the Weirdos comedy collective prepares for its annual alternative pantomime next week, its lynchpin Adam Larter shares his Unforgettable Five gigs...
Performing our Harry Potter parody shows at Leicester Square Theatre have been amazing. We did one earlier this year and I was really proud of the show. I'm aware that parody can be a bit lazy so it was really nice to make something that felt new and fresh in that genre.
The audience were fantastic and completely on board with everything and it was great to see a big crowd on a night when my family were in.
Without doubt, the Weirdos Awards.
We did a spoof award ceremony and everything about it was poorly thought through and just plain bad. The atmosphere had gone beyond us laughing at it being a bad gig and into just plain despair.
It's good to learn just how bad you can be. I learned that night.
Gig that taught me the biggest lesson
I used to run a gig in Camden eight years ago, a while before I started Weirdos. It wasn't really anything like Weirdos and was run almost like any other night.
I was trying to run a gig that I thought would be successful rather than running a gig that I really believed in.
I got really nervous emailing all these great acts that I respected and was so happy that I could book people like Brian Gittins just by emailing them - who would have thought that was all it takes?!
Anyway, I was pretty broke when I was running this gig and was going to use the money from the night to pay the acts. The final night of this gig I had booked Dan Antopolski and Adam Riches to perform. Both acts I really liked and respected and I thought that if I like them, this is sure to sell out.
I learned that night that having a good line-up doesn't always instantly sell tickets.
No one came, I was gutted. I spent all day flyering my hardest around Camden thinking there would be a massive audience and there was no one, just a couple of my friends.
Dan Antopolski went ahead and did the show even though I couldn't pay him. He was fantastic.
It was the gig that made me want to remove business from what I was doing and focus on putting on a night that was fun. I started running gigs again as Weirdos not long after this.
Gig that changed my life
I did a gig in Oxford organised by a now good-friend Jack Goldstein.
He wanted to pull together people from different disciplines - musicians, poets, artists, improvisers and he wanted a couple of comics who would be open-minded and do something different. After a bit of asking around he found myself and Ben Target.
The idea of the gig was that three different performers would improvise together on stage, all performing their own thing but all conscious of the other performers. We improvised with a fantastic avant-garde guitarist called Ian Staples. The gig was called Gesamtkunstwerk Memetics - and it was fantastic.
I was really scared how the audience would react to comedy in amongst all these great musicians and artists - but they absolutely loved it. I got a lot braver after that gig. I was so happy to see there was such a great appetite for weird and brave things out there. One-off gigs are the best.
Strangest Venue for a gig
I have a few of these (this is what happens when you work with Heroes promoter Bob Slayer).
The one which stands out is our night doing after-dinner speaking on Brick Lane in East London.
The gig details told the audience to meet us by Shoreditch High Street station and wear formal dress. We then walked to Brick Lane - found a curry house with a large table and sat down for a meal.
Then after the meal we began the speeches, with no prior warning to the venue or other people there. It was great fun. Maybe we should do it again.
• My Weirdos Big Fat Christmas Wedding, this year’s alternative pantomime from the troupe, is at the Leicester Square Theatre from Wednesday to Friday next week and also stars Beth Vyse, Gareth Morinan, John Kearns, Katia Kvinge, Jack De’Ath, Bob Slayer, Joz Norris, Ben Target, William Lee and Eleanor Morton. Tickets.
Published: 2 Dec 2016