29th of September 2013: I was booked to perform my first ever paid gig at Bradford Students Union on the 5th of October. I was really looking forward to this until I checked their website and discovered my name had changed from Liam Tulley to "Purpole Ronnie." As random as it sounds "Purple Ronnie" is a nickname I was unfortunately given many years ago and one that still sticks today. My username on a social networking forum is "Purple Ronnie" so in a way I can understand why this might cause confusion for comedy bookers but "Purpole" is taking the piss. On arrival at the gig I discovered that "Jim Bains" was actually Jim Bayes and that "Tom Tails" was Tom Taylor. (Remember advertising is key when organising a comedy night.)
Slightly unsure as to what I'd got myself involved with I made my way to the location where all the comedians where supposed to meet, only three of us turned up there. We were paid on the spot and told that we would be performing at the student union's sports bar. The promoter of this gig couldn't come with us and we were told to meet a small, bald and stocky man at the union. We arrived at the union, were walked through some kind of gospel choir concert and planted in a small room at the back of the venue. The place was dead, literally about eight people including the three of us. We searched for our small, bald and stocky man but were told he was ill and couldn't attend. Instead a spotty creature who looked about ten approached us and introduced himself as the "Entertainments officer." It was about five to eight and the rugby (Wigan Warriors Vs, Warrington) was just about to finish. People were ready to leave but a couple of them decided to stick around once they found out that the "comedy night" which was so brilliantly advertised was about to start.
8pm: The Entertainments Officer asks us if we are ready to start, no word of a lie there were six people in the room. He then said "Shall we ask people to stop playing pool?" No, we'll perform over the white ball smashing into the reds shall we? Eventually he stopped people playing pool and the lights were turned off, to many of the students' anger. Around half past eight we were asked to begin the show. The furniture was rearranged to accommodate six people and the show began. The MC James Christopher did the best he could to interact with the "audience" and introduced the first act. I was up second and watched the first guy praying for more people to come in before my spot. The comedians performing tonight had been performing comedy for a while, some many years and you could tell that they were totally pissed off about the conditions of this gig. As a "newbie" I literally had no idea what to expect when I got on stage but after witnessing the first act, who was a comedy veteran compared to me, I knew it wasn't going to be good. During the first act some dickhead who looked like Tamwar from EastEnders decided to pipe up and declare himself as "the master of bullshit" and then after being challenged by the comedian left the room, so now the crowd had dwindled to even shitter capacity. It was my turn to go on stage, the "crowd" cheered, well two people clapped and up I went. I started with a joke about missing X Factor for this which got a laugh and then began to tell them how I managed to avoid being eaten by women despite wearing Lynx Chocolate. I began to read a letter I sent to Lynx about their deodorant and after catching a glimpse of the audience I realised that no one gave a fuck. One sentence in and I lost the ability to read and speak, their glum emotionless faces and dead eyes just leering at me like I was the biggest twat they had ever seen. Having performed at the Comedy Store and Last Laugh Comedy Club I was used to the Intimacy of the smaller room where there is some kind of interaction with the audience. Even if they thought I was shit at least it's a response, but from these there was nothing. The majority of the group were studying archaeology, maybe they should have dug up a crowd. I plodded on and managed to make two people laugh, one was at the back of the room and the other behind a pillar. I tried to get the audience involved but when I asked a question I just got dull one word answers such as "yes" and "no" from some bell end at the front who was staring at me like he wanted to sexually assault me. A few minutes in and I realised that this gig was going nowhere and the audience didn't care who I was or what I was talking about. I lost track, forgot my material and basically died on my arse. With five minutes left to perform I decided to cut my losses and leave. I'd been paid, the promoter/organiser was nowhere to be seen, the audience weren't interested, the bar staff didn't even know there was a "comedy night" on and the "entertainments officer" wanted us to commentate on the pool match - "Thanks, you've been amazing, goodnight" and off I went to spend my well earned cash on a taxi home. I have to admit that up until this gig I'd been quite lucky and not "bombed." Audiences have been quite supportive and encouraging and I was finding it hard to believe that I would ever "bomb" a gig. I'd heard Josh Widdicombe say that he'd performed at gigs in venues which weren't meant for comedy and without making excuses for how shit I was this was one of them. Obviously it was my own fault that I forgot my material but the room and general atmosphere didn't help at all..
You know you've made it when even you nickname is spelt wrong.