SHOWS 9 & 10 - CARLISLE & SALE
I’m on the way to Cumbria. That can mean only one thing. TEBAY NORTHBOUND! If you know what it is, you need no further explanation. If you don’t… I pity you, really. It’s the absolute best service station in all the kingdom, and I am incapable of driving up that way without stopping off to buy three farmhouse chutneys, an infused oil and some artisanal sweets. It’s a miracle I made it to the tech rehearsal, to be honest. (They have ducks!)
These two shows were bangers in their own unique ways. Carlisle wasn’t a massive seller, but those who were there were the cream of the crop. Warm laughers, social media well-wishers, new besties… Sale was bigger and brasher, and a beautiful old-style judicial courtroom venue. I felt like I could have been on trial for the manslaughter of Carpenters tunes (which indeed I probably should be.) And someone in the front row was wearing my merchandise, which made me feel like a right rockstar.
SHOW 11 - GUILDFORD
Now here’s where it gets emotional. I grew up about half an hour east of Guildford, and did a lot of youth theatre there, so this was a sort of homecoming. I knew my parents would be there, maybe an old friend or two. But I was not expecting the gallery of familiar faces that appeared, like a beautiful kaleidoscope of my past life. I’m going to name them individually, at least all the ones I saw in the room or spoke to after…
Mum and Dad came up from Devon to join my youngest brother Ross and his wife Holly who left my tiny nephew at home to see my show (COMMITMENT.)
My very special friend Kirsty came, not only with her wife Paula, but also many members of her fantastic family (who by now also feel like my family): sister Jacqui, mum Sheila, dad Ian, and friends Jen and Eric.
So many wonderful schoolfriends: Jody, who has been a huge influence on my comedy (I still hear funny phrases she has used in the past and laugh); Helen, a burst of sunlight and Leatherhead’s most loyal resident; James, who was so brilliant in all the school plays and wears hats better than anybody; Shona, a true original who used to sit in front of me in French and keep me smiling; Lisa, one of those people everyone just loves and has the best laugh…
The lovely parents of my oldest schoolfriend, John and Pat, a few rows back, unintentionally making me so nervous that I committed some very sloppy crimes upon the piano. John was musical director and conductor of the concert band and jazz orchestra in which I played growing up - no two people know more about this stuff than they.
Legendary Angela, who directed Surrey County Youth Theatre for many years along with producer Sandie and costumier Rosemary, and taught me so many invaluable lessons about life in showbusiness.
Very unexpectedly, two ladies who probably don’t remember me as a 10-year-old street urchin in their operatic society’s production of Carmen - Selena and Tessa. I recently did a show (Miss Nightingale) in which their amazing niece played the main role, and now we’re reunited!
Apologies if I miss anyone out - it was overwhelming. I hope to see all of you again, not in a frizzy 70s wig, to thank you personally for making it such a special show.
SHOW 12 - READING
This was the one I decided to film. Which brings its own shedload of extra stresses on top of the usual touring ones. Would the in-house tech be slick? Would the audience be suitably raucous or would we need to download a laugh track from prosoundeffects.com? Would I manage to not trip on the mic lead and pull my pants down by accident? Etc.
I am happy to report that I made the correct choice of show to film. It was probably my favourite of the whole tour, purely on the energy coming back from the auditorium. Have to shout out South Street Arts for being a totally excellent venue in all ways that matter, and more beautiful familiar faces for showing up: my gorgeous cousin who may as well be my sister, Samantha, and her friend Bryony; showbiz buddies and gemstones Megan and Ellie, my oldest schoolfriend’s sister Claire (the birthday girl) and her husband Pete; longtime supporters Simon and Caroline with their friends; and John who runs the venue but had a night off but still came along because he’s just like that.
SHOW 13 - BANBURY
This was a stressful experience for various reasons that I won’t go into here (vaguebook, u ok hun, etc.), but let me just say that those beautiful wonderful people who came to this one, and stuck around afterwards to talk to me, really brightened up my day and made me feel so much better, so thank you whoever you all were.
Now I’m heading into the final stretch, with only seven shows left. This coming week, it’s Cambridge (23 Nov), Huddersfield (24 Nov) and Sheffield (25 Nov). All pretty big auditoriums, none full yet… And after that, it’s Fareham (28 Nov) and Brighton (29 Nov).
Know anyone in any of these places? Spread this about like a yellow-and-lime-green rash (that’s Richard’s colour palette): matthewfloydjones.co.uk/richard-close-to-you