In the days leading up to a show, I spend a lot of my time making sure I'm show ready. I'm probably in the minority of comedy acts that do this, but then again I'm not 'just' a comedy act, some people would say I'm not even a comedy act, with jokes like that one I've just made, they might have a point. However I am not just a comedy act, oh no, I'm a multi award winning (and modest) mind-reader who can't read minds and my current show Fatal Distraction is a proper theatrical show, it's more a piece of theatre than stand up, it's funny though, and magical... honest.
I've just got back from 3 weeks of shows in New Zealand, and am now staring down the barrel of a show on Tuesday 29th May at the E4 Udderbelly, and another on the 19th June. With Tuesday's show a day away, I will now spend the next few days getting show ready, right till the moment I am standing in the wings awaiting to hear my name to go out and say hello and read minds, I'll be thinking about the show.
I know friends and acts who don't bother with any of this show ready nonsense, yes they, like me, might dance a bit in the wings, punch the air, warm up a little just before going on stage, but they probably don't spend a good few days thinking about the show. Even though I've done the show close to 100 times now, I still over-think it. I've been with Tim Minchin backstage at The Royal Albert Hall as he dicked around, mocked his orchestra and did a short vocal warm up before bursting onto stage, he's a man who can play it cool. Look at me in those final few moments before stage and I'll be dancing around like an idiot, getting my energy levels up and getting in the right mind-set. But before then, I'll do a lot more.
I love theatre, I love performing in theatres (or upside down purple cows like the Udderbelly) I love everything about them. I went to see the brilliant Keith Holmes exhibition at Art Galleries Europe on Maddox Street (it's on till Saturday, GO!) the other day. He does wonderful paintings of the unseen, backstage world of theatre, and just looking at them filled me with wonder and delight, for the theatre is a magical place. My aim is to make it even more magical for the audience watching me so I spend ages thinking about how to do that.
For the next few days I'll be resetting props, running the show in my head, considering any changes. Then on show day, my production manager will arrive at around midday, we'll load up the van with set, props and lights and head down to the Udderbelly for a 4 hour get in. Consisting of putting the props in the right place, making sure the lights all work, sorting out sound, sorting out which seats are going to have a crap view, running the cues with the tech guys, all that nonsense. Then there'll be the waiting for there is another show on before me. I'll grab something to eat, then pick at it and not eat it. The shows at 9pm, so around 7.45 I'll get changed into my costume (jeans and a t-shirt) start to drink Lucozade, eat a banana and move myself around a bit. Around 8.15pm we'll get back into the venue, re-set all the props, and open the doors around 8.45pm. Then I'll sit and wait till someone says I'm allowed to go on stage now.
As an audience member you sit there, waiting for a show to start, assuming that if it starts late it's because something has gone wrong, or the performer isn't ready. Let me tell you now. This is NEVER the case, I'm always waiting backstage for my sexy audience to sit down and be ready, and that's how it should be. It is me waiting for you, not you waiting for me. I'll be told we're ready, go stand in the wings, dance to my intro song, and then burst on to stage, read some minds, cause some LOLZ, show off a bit more of my body then I'd planned to, bow, leave, go give people I Love Cox Badges. Then I can rest. At least until the next morning when I'll start thinking about my show at the end of June. Obvs.
Follow Chris Cox on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bigcox