Steve, André and Brian
A few weeks ago I spent two days with Steve Rawlings working on my show, tightening bits up, rewriting sections, and working on new pieces.
My first day was Friday, but the real drama started on the Wednesday evening before. The initial plan was to take the train to Steve’s house, stay there a few days and work on the show in his studio that he has in his garden. I received a message from Steve on Wednesday evening saying that part of his neighbour’s tree has hit the studio and it’s now unsafe to use. In a panic I email Adrian Berry at Jacksons Lane Theatre to see if he has any last minute space. He did. Adrian saved my bacon.
Day one me and Steve spent the first part of the day until lunch time chatting about what I want to achieve, certain ideas I have, where I’d like to perform them, my target audience, the difference between Jon Udry on stage and Jon Udry off stage, the type of comedy I can do, the type of comedy that I think I can’t do, and a bunch of other deep topics, a lot of which I never even really considered.
After lunch we decided to start systematically going through my show with a fine tooth comb. We started with my introduction. Analysing the importance of the first few seconds that you are on stage because after all, first impressions are very important. We managed to improve all of the sections of the show to a certain degree, even if it was as subtle as changing the angle of a trick or changing a word in a joke.
It was interesting to look at the various sections of my show in such depth, because not only did we take some unnecessary lines out and find new jokes, but it made me feel like I new my material that little bit better and I began to trust it that little bit more.
I hired Steve to help me iron out the creases in my current show and help me make it as good as it could be. He helped with this a lot, he’s a true pro and a real pleasure to work with.
A couple of weeks later I had a 2 week residency at Jackson’s Lane where I would work with a director on making a brand new solo show suitable for small theatres. Firstly, the 2 week residency didn’t exactly go to plan as I had a few gigs that I really couldn’t turn down during the residency meaning that the days that I could create we’re very patchy, but despite this, we still cracked on. I chose to work with André Vincent (comedian, compere, director, beard owner) after hearing very good things about his work and he was highly recommended to me. Me and André drank quite an astonishing amount of tea and chatted about what I wanted to make. This was time very well spent as I wasn’t 100% sure on what I wanted to create and by talking about it really helped define what I wanted to do. We came up with some great ideas for the show and a definite structure so it was a very productive start.
A few days go by and I’m starting to feel very confused by the whole thing. I told Steve that I didn’t think my cruise ship show would work in a the small theatre. He asked me why, and I didn’t really have an answer. Steve says that his show would work anywhere and I truly believe him. His suggestion was to make my current show work everywhere instead of thinking that it can only work in a certain scenario. I am thinking about this whilst designing a brand new show from scratch with André. It gets a bit overwhelming so I invite my good friend Ian Marchant (juggler, director of sorts, vegan, dad, DJ, smooth thinker) in for a chat. He very much helped conclude my predicament. We came to the conclusion that my current show that I call my cruise ship show, I should stop calling it my cruise ship show, because restricting it is a bad idea. I do my show on cruise ships, but I do it anywhere else when it is needed and it works just as well. I had to choose which idea to put my energy into; making a show from scratch with André or making my current show the best best best it can be. After talking to Ian, he made me realise that my passion really lays in working on my current show and making it the best it can be and the ideas that I had with André for the solo theatre show can wait until another time when I am ready to do it. No problem! I am still going to use André for working on my new show, and I will hopefully get Steve in for a few days as well (haven’t asked him yet!).
During this residency I had the opportunity to be the support act for Brian Conley on his tour. I first met Brian about 1 year ago when I was performing at the showcase for my cruise ship agency Blackburn Entertainments at Bloomsbury theatre. We crossed paths again whilst I was practicing at the National Centre of Circus Arts (NCCA) and Brian was learning to walk a tightrope for his new role as Barnum in the musical of the same name. We exchanged details and in a few months later I got a phone call from him. His support act, Matt Ricardo (gentlemen juggler, comedian, owner of nice suits), couldn’t do a few dates and he asked if I would like to fill in. I did 15 mins of my solo show and a had to do a little bit with Brian on stage including introducing him as “the man with all the dangerous bits, the very dangerous, DANGEROUS BRIAN!”. The gigs were very fun, lovely audiences, very long drives and I had the chance to pick Brian’s brain a lot about the show biz industry which was very useful. He is a very true pro. A genuine pleasure to work with him.
You will all be pleased to know that both Brian Conley and Steve Rawlings have agreed to be interviewed for my new podcast which will hopefully be starting soon. I haven’t asked André Vincent yet, but I’m sure he’ll be well up for it (right?!). You’ll also be pleased to know that the theme tune of the podcast will be written by the wonderfully talented Elliot Mason (singer, comedian, musician, half of Flight of the Conchords lookalike, mad man).
More to come soon!
That is all for now.
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"Jon was a resounding favourite of the night with the audience. He has a natural comedic flair, rocking the audience with laughter with his ad libbing alone, and is an excellent, highly skilled juggler to boot. I recommend him to you unreservedly."
Sarah Shanson, Organiser of The Shaftesbury Tavern Cabaret.