'This small unit of vomit shot out of her face...' | William Andrews on his Unforgettable Five gigs

'This small unit of vomit shot out of her face...'

William Andrews on his Unforgettable Five gigs

As William Andrews prepares to play London's Soho Theatre next week, here he recalls his most memorable gigs:

First gig

My first gig was in a Christie's cellar - a basement of a bar at the top of the Grass-market in Edinburgh, an early precursor to The Stand.  I did a camp (what?) Geordie character and I took the roof off. Of course I didn't - but they laughed ‘a bit’ and it made such a dent in my brain, it left a hole.

As a doctor* I'm quite sure those early exposures create a need that can never quite be satisfied - which has led to me either being a stand-up or being a temporarily embarrassed stand-up who will be right back just as soon as he’s tidied up all this mental spaghetti.

(* Played a doctor in a sketch. Twice.)

Second gig

Second gig was a massive car crash, if the car was made of dogshit that crashed into some more dogshit but of a worse kind. 

It was at the same place, about two weeks later and I did it hammered, pissed out my head. I mean what was I thinking? I was 20, so probably nothing much. I remember though, two gigs in, thinking, ‘I should probably take a break from comedy, I don’t want to burn out.’

What’s interesting to me about those times – and this seems to tally with a lot of comics that started then – but what you got up to was mostly to do with whatever club fostered you.  If it wasn’t for The Stand’s support, I wouldn’t have got past gig three. Actually what the f**k were they thinking? GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK!

 

Strangest audience member

I once played the Shoe Fayre Christmas party, so don’t tell me I’m not sexy. 

There was a woman in the front row who was really laughing, but like over-laughing. Like she’d turned a tap on and couldn’t get it off. It was like a madness had gripped her, hysteria.

It was funny to begin with and then the tone changed to something a little darker.  Suddenly she puked, but it was more like a cough of sick. A bark. This small unit of vomit shot out of her face and landed on my shoe. Which seemed unFayre. It looked like a cookie.

Worst gig

The worst gigs, I mean, I've had two really really bad ones, one I can't really talk about yet because I’m still dealing with it (sorry Green Man), one that was just  – gah. 

It was my ten-year anniversary of starting stand up, I had just moved down to London from Scotland and I couldn't find my feet with English crowds. They seemed far more sensitive than the Scottish - I could happily talk about throwing Paddington Bear into the blades of a helicopter up there, but in London not so much.

So anyway, I played the Comedy Cafe last minute on open spot night and the lovely Imran Yusuf was compering. I come on, do my crap and wave to the technician for the first cue - but there’s no tech in the booth. Nope. 

And then I see, the f**king arsehole is sat on the front row! I panic and dig out something to cover and just as I try and land the punchline of that bit, the tech plays the cue I asked for three minutes earlier.

The audience are completely baffled at this point and I realise I lost this one, so I throw my hands up and ditch it. Backstage, after Imran has put out the fire I left for him, comes up to me and says – and remember, this is my ten-year anniversary – ‘don’t give up, starting out is hard.’ Kudos to Imran, long walk home for me.

Gig again

I knocked it on the head for about ten years after that so my new show, Willy, is a big deal for me.  Gigging again, you find that a lot is the same, but for me the big difference seems to be that comics are way more clear-sighted about what they want.  Maybe that’s the internet that does that, or maybe I've just not seeing it right. I don’t know, I’m 40, give me a break.

William Andrews: Willy is on at Soho Theatre from April 10 to 13 at 8.45pm. Tickets

Published: 2 Apr 2019

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