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Comedy & Beyond A Blog by Danny Garnell

1st Gig

My first gig was at a comedy club I used to go to regularly as a teenager and in my 20s, the legendary Up the Creek in Greenwich. I’d seen some comedy greats on that stage, heroes of mine, acts from the television, international stars, I’d had nights in there with friends and family laughing so much that my sides hurt.

                                                      Their format is a gong style type show, The Blackout, less brutal than most                                                            gongs as you get 2 minutes grace to try and win over the crowd, at best you                                                          get 5 minutes. The crowd hold cards up when they want you off, 3 cards and                                                        you’re gone. Out of all the acts that last the 5 minutes an overall winner is                                                            selected, and the prize is a lovely bottle of bubbly.


                                                     I’d applied for The Blackout previously, I thought it was a 12 week wait to go                                                         up, plenty of time to write 2 minutes I thought, I panicked when I had an                                                               email straight back to say there was a drop out and I could go up that night.


I’d love to say I confidently got the bus down to the club and smashed the gig to bits, got carried out on the shoulders of the crowd and got immediately booked for Saturday night 20 spots.

This blog is supposed to be honest though, so the truth is I lied and told them I couldn’t as I was already booked for a gig. Which with hindsight and a bit of experience must have been as transparent a lie as the DFS sale ending THIS Monday.


When the time eventually came around weeks later for me to perform, I was a mix of nervous and excited, mostly I just didn’t want to be crap and get booed off.

I told a handful of people I was doing it, 2 of the lads I knew from a previous job, and a mate who lives miles away, 5,500 miles away to be exact in Los Angeles. He was the person who told me to do stand-up originally. Safe bet that he wouldn’t turn up and see me crash and burn, or was it?


As I went up on stage somewhere in the middle of the 15 hopefuls, I thought I saw my pal from LA in the crowd with his baseball cap pulled down low, it couldn’t have been could it? The trying to see if it was him or not with the bright spotlights in my eyes relaxed me quite a bit. Gave me something else to think about, I guess.


I went through my 2 minutes, the lights flashed to let me know my grace

period was over, and the crowd, they were laughing, actually laughing, at

things I’d scribbled down on scraps of paper. No cards at this point, 3 minutes

passed, no cards, 4 minutes, no cards, 4 and a half… then I ran out of material.

I panicked and looked over to the sound booth, the MC and show manager were mouthing and motioning for me to keep going. I had no more, so told the story of bottling my first chance of doing The Blackout, plugged my twitter (@dannygarnell) for some reason, then sort of shuffled off stage.


The adrenaline rush was insane, in a past life I’d worked as a professional wrestler, this buzz was that x10, and I wasn’t even wearing a sparkly leotard. I sat back down at the back of the room with the other hopefuls, and then I had a tap on my shoulder, it WAS my mate from LA, he was in London working, and popped along for the show. Then disappeared like some kind of spy. The whole thing was so surreal.


The show was ending and having never done it before I didn’t know it was unusual, but the MC called me back up on stage and the bar gave me a shot to celebrate my first time on stage. I didn’t win, I couldn’t of, I didn’t complete the full 5 minutes, but the MC was kind enough to give me 5 minutes of his time, and told me this was a thing I definitely needed to continue with along with some tips I really appreciate to this day.


It was my first time and I really couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better. Comedy hooked me that night, and I would recommend doing The Blackout to anybody that has an interest in doing comedy.

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