Saturday, 12 April 2008
King Gong - The Comedy Store, London
One of the best things about moving out of the middle of nowhere and closer to "The City" is the improved ease of going to an event just because you fell like it, without needing to plan things in advance or worry about getting home again afterwards. Therefore, when I was wandering around Leicester square the other evening and happened to walk past the comedy store, I decided to pop in and see what things were like. The evening's event was a "Beat the Gong" event, something that I had never been to before, and wasn't sure what to expect from it.
For others who have never experienced a Gong show before, it's a fairly simple concept. The wannabe comedians have to survive on stage for 5 minutes without being gonged off. They can be gonged off by the MC for time wasting, or a number of other petty misdemeanours, but the main power to gong someone off lies in the hands of the audience. Three random people were selected from the crowd and issued with red cards, if all three red cards go up in the air, the wannabe is gonged.
Surviving the full time on stage is a difficult thing to do: five minutes is a long time in comedy and the audience is a fickle mistress. On this particular night only five of the 20+ to take the stage managed to avoid the gong, and that was despite a couple of comedians who, at the request of the audience, were given second (and in one case third) chances. Of those that made it through, the audience then selected it's ultimate favourite who will go on to other things.
A good MC for the night is crucial to keep everything working and keep the audience laughing. This particular night, the MC was Ben Norris and he did a fantastic job. When I spoke to a few people in the crowd, people seemed to be of the opinion that they would quite happily have paid the £5 entrance just for his bits...all the other would be comedians were a bonus.
As a note to anyone who likes the idea of taking part in a gong event: it's a great place to try and find out if you have the makings of a comedian, and build up some stage confidence. But, don't insult the audience, don't make references to the inner workings of the body (male or female) and don't be too vulgar (crude and rude is fine, but careful with the vulgarity). But the most important thing: there are three judges in the audience at any time, don't be put off because one doesn't like you. too many of the acts had one red card against them, reacted defensively to this and floundered a bit...and that caused the other two cards to go up. Ignore the cards, focus on general audience opinion instead.
All in all, a gong show is a good night out, but don't expect the kind of quality of humour you'd get from a more traditional show.