FEATURE: A year later, comedian Eric Lalor returns to the venue where he played to just 5 people
Tullamore the merrier?
This time last year I went to Tullamore to do my solo standup show in Hugh Lynch's.
To help me deal with the trauma of performing to an audience of five people - FIVE - I was advised to write an article about it which you can read here.
Five people at a standup comedy show is a tough assignment for anyone, but I did it and it was great fun.
With that in mind, I was contacted a couple of months ago by Emmet Lynch, who runs the Tullamore venue. He proposed that I return to the scene of the crime so to speak, confident as he was that I'd get a much better crowd.
I liked the idea that on the anniversary of the first show, they'd have me back again. I agreed to do it. Apparently there was a newfound appetite for standup in Tullamore as Karl Spain had MC'd a night of standup comedy, featuring local people trying it out for the first time.
The place, according to Emmet, was absolutely wedged and you could not fit another person into the venue that night. Emmet planned on having Karl MC my gig to attract the local sceptics.
The gig would take place Easter Sunday, exactly a year to the date of my first show there. As part of the deal, I asked that Emmet put the five people who were at the first gig on the guestlist for the night. At least I'd equal last year's attendance.
I drove to Tullamore and my mind started wandering as the journey unfolded. Would anyone show up? Would I beat the attendance record of five? Will there be any Easter eggs left at home when I return? All relevant fears are symptomatic of a comedian on the road with too much time to think and over-analyse.
I arrived at the venue about 45 minutes before the show was due to begin. I sat in the car bracing myself. Took some deep breaths and pumped myself up.
A couple of lads walking by recognised me from Fair City and tapped on the window. 'Are you alright there Cathal? Is that Debbie one still wrecking your head?'
It jolted me from my slumber and I nervously smiled back and rolled down the window. 'Howya lads, just here to do a show in Hugh Lynch's.' After having to explain that I was a comedian and the show was a stand-up comedy show and not a re-enactment on stage of Fair City, I got out of my car and headed to the venue.
I walked up the stairs and was greeted by a young lady collecting money and tickets at the door. Enthused by the prospect that they felt the need to put someone there, I asked her if many tickets were sold? She told me that there were 34 tickets sold and they were expecting a walk-up too.
34?!?! Thirty bloody four lads!! That's almost 700% better than the year previously and that's without taking the possible walk-ups into consideration. Suddenly I had a pep in my step. Suddenly I felt confident. Suddenly I was thinking of calling the 3Arena to organise a gig in Dublin.
Karl greeted me with a bear hug and of course informed me the reason the 34 were there were to see him and not me. Granted, that was the possible reason, but I wouldn't let it sway me. My name was on the ticket so, technically, they had come to see me.
I love a good technicality in all fairness. Karl took to the stage and was his usual quality self getting the crowd right into things from the get go. I scanned the room and was able to count close on 60 folks in the audience. That might not sound much to some, but to me, in that room, it was an epic improvement.
Two of the five who had been at the original show were there again and it was great to see them. They told me later, the other three had legitimate excuses not to be there and because it was Easter Sunday, I let them away with it.
Karl introduced me and I bounded on to stage like a confident gazelle. A confident gazelle who can tell jokes. Opened up about my previous gig there and the five people and it was received very well.
I went on to do about an hour or so and loved every second of it. I was very fortunate to have a very warm receptive audience and the hour flew by such was the craic being had.
Next midlands town for me to try? Carlow. Bring it.
Check out my newfound cockier self. A man reborn. A legend of the comic arts.
I bet nobody comes.