Last Wednesday I took part in a 'Tesco's Got Talent' competition in a semi final at the conference suite at the Leicester City Football ground. I had already won a preliminary round in my current workplace with a stand up routine about butcher's shops and the meat and fish counter at Tesco.
Tesco have very strong guidelines about being rude about customers so the observational comedy I devised and wrote was more about the joke being on me than being about the customers really.
The set comprised of two jokes about butcher's shops ( themes were a cheeky rabbit and an intelligent dog) then I moved into observations about me being able to speak a bit of three languages namely French, German and Chinese. I went on to explain that we have a lot of Chinese customers and that they appreciate my attempts to be polite and I demonstrated that and then went into mock Chinese as I demonstrated verbally what I could do to their sea bass. The joke was on me as, after a lengthy explanation, it turned out they didn't speak Chinese.
Then I told the audience a true story about a strongly accented customer who said that he wanted "To piss" and that my colleague Paul was attempting to show him where the loos were. It turned out he wanted 'two piece' of salmon.
For the final part of my act I told the audience that I do the counters' announcements on the mike at work and that I had a fantasy that the Daleks had opened a branch of Tesco and I wondered what the announcements would be like. I do a good Dalek impersonation and proceeded to do three Dalek calls echoing subjects that normally happen in the supermarket.
I had woken up early (3am) the day I was due to perform and had some funny ideas that I wrote down but later in the day decided it was best to stick with the routine I was familiar with rather than adding new material last minute.
On the evening of the Tesco's Got Talent gig, I followed a young woman (No! not that kind of followed!) who was on first doing a dance routine. I was on second. Another twenty three acts were to follow, mostly singers.
The conference room was very wide and the stage was a temporary, poorly lit affair in the middle of the room by the back wall. I was confident in my material after some rehearsals at home and I found that I had to compete with a lot of chat from the tables whilst I was performing. It wasn't like the theatre or a comedy club where folk go quiet and let you entertain. I didn't let this put me off and used my skills to get the attention from the audience, the most important ones of looking and sounding confident and eyeballing each section of the audience and the judges as I spoke so that they all felt included. I got some laughs (always good for a comedian!) and the material that went down well was the Chinese language section and the Daleks in Tesco material.
The judges said that I had done very well with writing my own material, the timing of the humour and the originality of my act. I wasn't the outright winner but I got a trophy for my efforts, a fun night and a few beers and some food. The experience has made me think about doing an open mike slot at a proper comedy club sometime where people actually go to see and listen to the comedians rather than chit chat about their social lives during a set.