I'm still perfecting the right set. It's hard to get the attention of a talkative bar so I've found the best way is to introduce the set is saying that I'll be singing songs about "bondage, marijuana, homosexuality, obesity and Woody Allen".
I find that this gets their attention straightaway.
Then I introduce the first song "about my Dad's cousin who was one of those immensely fat people" and that "because you're all Americans you probably all have a brother or sister at home who can't get out of bed, but it was a talking point in England".
I've gone for subject-driven songs to stand out from the other singer-songwriters on the scene. The set looks like this at the moment:
The fat song - gets a laugh
The gay song - I get some strange looks
The Attention Deficet Disorder song - the teachers like this one.
The stoner song - lots of potheads here
The wind energy song - a surprising number of people work in renewable energy it seems
The Woody Allen song - marrying your daughter doesn't seem to help your work
The bondage song - more of a toe tapper than a chuckler
The clutter song - these last two go down the best because people can relate to them
The work song - hating your job crosses all cultural boundaries.
So this is how I'm playing it. Pulling no punches. No ones pulled any punches on me yet or pulled a gun, but a few older ladies have coughed up their coffee. I might tone it down a bit if I get further in land or see a confederate flag flying.