It's Thursday and I'm in Sheffield about to go live on stage at The Lescar, a venue where Alan Carr apparently did his 3rd ever gig. I was slightly more nervous to be performing at this venue than the gig at 'King Gong' because this was more professional in terms of actually getting on the comedy ladder. I was on the 'bill' advertised on the website and it was £8.00 a ticket.
I arrived at the venue and was instantly hit with pictures on the wall of other comedians who had performed there; Sarah Millican, Graham Norton, Al Murray, Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas to name a few, but there was one picture that stuck out to me the most, it was Ross Noble. The reason this struck me is because my girlfriend admitted to me that she fancied him...well his accent. She said she could listen to him all night so effectively I could blind fold her and leave her in a room with Paul Gascoigne and she'd be none the wiser. Anyway back to the show...
I was nervously waiting around in my dressing room / toilets ready to storm the stage (yes it is all glamour this 'showbiz'). The smell of the grease paint...and toilet duck, the roar of the crowd, I was ready to go. The MC introduced me and out I came.
I'd been booked to do twenty minutes so set my phone alarm to vibrate just to make sure I didn't over or under run. I was on stage doing quite well and before I had time to take it all on my leg began to vibrate...it was over, finished. I got down from the stage to a huge cheer and was actually quite pleased with myself until the booker / promoter pulled me to one side and said " You were good but..." Oh there's a but..."The material you did about Big Brother is actually Matty Reeds." I was quite surprised as I wasn't familiar with Matt Reed or his work. Essentially I had just been told I had commited one of the biggest sins in comedy 'ripping off' someone else's material. I was told I may have heard Matt do it and subconsciously thought it was my own material. I couldn't hang around to disagree as I was booked to do another gig, I know get me "doubling up on a Thursday."
I arrived at my second venue, also in Sheffield and the Matt Reed situation was still playing on my mind. I left the material about Big Brother out of my act for the second gig, which went well by the way. A couple of people came up to me after the show and wished me well, said they'd enjoyed my act and told me to keep at it as they thought I was good. I was actually overwhelmed by the support as I don't take praise well and usually end up getting embarrassed.
The night was over and I got in a taxi and headed to the train station. From the taxi to the train journey home all that was playing on my mind was being told I had used another comedians' material, despite the praise I had received this is all I could think about. I decided to watch a clip of Matt Reed on Youtube and see if I had used his material or something similar. He's a Geordie Matt Reed and he does an impression of the voice over guy from Big Brother, something I did in my act but using completely different material. This was obviously what I was meant to have 'used' so I decided to contact Matt Reed and find out 100% if I had used his material. I wasn't expecting a response but I got one:
Response from Matt Reed
After getting this message from Matt I can't express how relieved I was. I'm in an extremely competitive industry performing in venues with people who have been doing stand up for years so to have this hanging over me as a 'newbie' I was dreading I'd forever be known as the joke thief and that my career was over before it had even begun but thankfully Matt set my mind at ease.