Liam Tulley | Official Website
Thursday 24th of September and I was on my travels again. I arrived at the venue in Sheffield 'The New Barrack Tavern' where I have performed before only this time I was slightly more nervous. The disaster of a gig in Bradford made me cast serious doubt over my ability to perform stand-up and made me question whether or not I wanted to commit myself to the whole insecurity of comedy and just get a 'proper' job. When I entered the venue I was put in a room with fifteen other comedians who were all anxious and desperately trying to avoid making eye contact with each other. We we're told by the promoter 'Spiky Mike' which order we would be performing in, I was on 8th which is a good spot. The place was packed with all ages from students to pensioners. We were all told that there was no more seating available due to a sell out capacity so all acts would have to sit at the back of the stage in an unlit area. Fifteen of us sat in a row staring point blank at the audience, if I'm honest I've never felt more terrified in all my life. Usually before I go on stage I like to keep myself to myself and go through my notes, this was clearly not going to happen tonight as I sat fidgeting as the audience glared. The show began and the compere did his thing, interacting with the audience, finding the mouthy 'knobhead' who had an answer for everything. The first couple of rows were all students and with the Bradford gig still fresh in my memory I sat staring at the audience and watched as the compere was continously heckled. I thought 'fuck this' I could be at home watching Emmerdale. I made a decision in my mind that this would be my last 'gig' and thought it might be time to bow out gracefully. I just couldn't get Bradford out of my mind and prepared myself for another disastrous gig. It was a 'gong' show so obviously the audience have to be brutal in order to create an half decent final. The first five acts lasted their full five minutes and pressure was mounting not only on the acts but on the audience to vote someone off. Act number six stepped up, someone who did the dreaded gig in Bradford with me a couple of weeks earlier. He was voted off after about three minutes and that's when the nerves started to kick in. I knew that the audience would have to start being brutal now and as I was up soon I couldn't help thinking I'd be the next to go. Act number seven got up and lasted the full five minutes and was through to the final, now I thought 'I'm definitely going to be voted off'. If I'm totally honest and I don't want to sound arrogant but listening to the first seven acts I did get a slight feeling that there wasn't much competition and if it wasn't for the fact that I was constantly thinking about the Bradford gig, I'm sure my confidence level would have been higher. The compere announced my name and I was up. The 'knobhead' I mentioned earlier had interrupted everyone's act before me, nothing vicious or horrible just banter but I was sure that my nerves would get the better of me if anyone 'heckled'. I just wanted to do my time however long and get out. I started off with the same material I had used in Bradford and unbelievably Sheffield were laughing, even the students, I suddenly felt the adrenaline kick in and bang, I was off ranting away like a demented parrot. The 'knobhead' interrupted me whilst I was on a roll but I managed to control him and keep him on side. I was going through my material quite fast, too fast actually as I was close to running out. I managed to do my five minutes, I was through to the final and left the stage to huge cheers and applause. There was a short interval and I went to the toilet where the 'knobhead' who was actually called Elliot came over and said I was 'brilliant' and had 'bollocks' to stand on stage. A few more people came over and patted me on the back which was nice but I just wanted to have a piss. I went outside to get some air and was approached my a couple. The man was from Liverpool I think and he was said he thought I was 'great'. He said "I was laughing at you before you even got up on stage." Cheeky bastard, I thought! He said he's been watching all the acts waiting and that everyone looked terrified apart from me, he said I just looked "pissed off." Which is right, at the time I just wanted to go home. He was telling me how he goes all over the country watching comedy and said I was one of the best he'd seen in a while which was amazing but slightly embarrassing at the same time as I don't know how to react when someone is praising me. I thanked him and his girlfriend and made my way back to the stage to see the final two acts before the final. On the way back to the stage people were stopping me and saying "You've won this easy." A few people had said it and suddenly I was feeling quite big headed and thought 'yeah I have won this, who's been better than me?' It sounds really arrogant but when you've been terrified before a gig and even contemplated giving up something that means so much to you, the fact that people are actually noticing me, praising me and saying really nice things just changed my mind-set and I felt like I could take on the world. I got back to the stage and was informed that one of the final two acts had pulled out after being sick with nerves in the toilets. I though 'right this is it, the title's mine'. Thirty quid in the back pocket and a regular booking. The last act was 'Jellybean Martinez' he hadn't been sat on the stage with the rest of the acts and came bursting out of a door at the back of the room dressed in a 'Flamenco' outfit. He was fast paced and energetic, bouncing around the stage. He got two members of the audience up and dressed them in shorts with a fake penis attached and got the audience singing along to a song called 'I want to get my sausage wet'. I sat at the back of the stage watching and thought 'You bastard!' I knew straight away he'd won. Firstly because he was good and secondly because he was the last act and fresh in the audiences' memory. They weren't going to forget a song about getting a sausage wet within the space of three minutes but my Noel Edmonds/Prostitute joke twenty minutes previous was certainly out of their minds. The final was staged and the winner was decided by round of applause. The compere said my name and the clapping and cheering was quite loud. 'Jellybean Martinez' was announced and the room went wild, stomping, clapping, cheering, whooping, of course he'd won. It was deemed that I was the runner up which for someone who was terrified and who'd made a decision to 'quit' stand up coming second was better than I could have hoped for. I left the stage to more praise from the audience, the woman from the couple earlier pulled me to one side and said she thought I was 'amazing' not sure if she meant me or my act but I'll take that. I was told my act was on 'par' with 'Jellybean' which was a huge compliment as he was extremely good and deserved to win on the night. I headed back to the train station buzzing with confidence and desperate to arrange my next gig. I'm back!
"Doubling up on a Thursday."