Just a quick update – last night I did my first gig since before xmas, and while it’s actually been pretty nice to chill out for a while without having to feed the comedy monkey on my back, it was good to get started again. Even if it was a bit of a trainwreck.
The gig was a bar-show in Wimbledon, with 10-15 minute spots, MC’d by Sam Rhodes. Some of the audience had shown up expecting comedy, some hadn’t, so it was a bit of a mixed bag.
Before the show kicked off, a group of three women who were sitting right in front of the mic got chatting to me and said they were really worried about getting picked on, so I promised them it wouldn’t happen because it wasn’t that kind of show.
When I made that promise, I wasn’t aware that they planned to get absolutely hammered and disrupt the entire first half of the show.
Sam put me on first, so after he’d warmed the crowd up a bit I went up to the mic, and launched into my standard set – I was a little rusty after the xmas break, but felt pretty comfortable with my material. My opener got almost nothing from the audience, but I’ve been there before so I just pushed on with the rest of it and managed to eke out a few laughs from them.
Pretty soon the table of three women got completely out of control, completely ignoring me and talking loudly to each-other, trying to speak to me, derailing my punchlines and generally completely fucking everything up. I tried to take it with good grace and have a bit of fun with them, and the audience seemed to go along with that, but there wasn’t much I could do, they were too drunk to reason with and obviously weren’t going anywhere.
It all fell apart when one of them started having a loud phone conversation halfway through a bit, and everybody just started laughing at the futility of the situation instead of my material. I battled on for a bit longer but gave up before I’d finished all the material I planned to do.
The rest of the first half went pretty much the same way for Sam and the other acts. There were a couple of tables of people who seemed to be interested in the show, but it was hard work to cut through the noise and distraction for them.
The best part of nights like these is the camaraderie with other acts in the face of adversity. There were a couple of acts who also did the scary Croydon gig last year with me, Mara Mainka and Richard Stott, so there was a bit of team spirit. Ginnia Cheng was also there, and I’ve known her for a few years.
I had planned to bale as soon as I finished my set, but it was fun hanging out with everybody and I felt like I had a duty to stick around for the other acts under the circumstances. It’s fine to duck out if the night’s going well for everybody, but when things are rough they need your moral support.
Richard made a heroic effort to do some crowd work with the drunks, to try and scare them into silence, which worked to a degree – about halfway into the second section they decided to leave. (But not before grumbling at me that I’d promise nobody would give them a hard time…)
By this point, Will Hitt (who I’ve rated since I first saw him a few years ago) had psyched himself up to face down the drunks, but since they left he ended up dealing with a much more receptive room than he was expecting. Not wanting to let his energy go to waste, he spent the entire set hurling unnecessarily brutal barbs at undeserving audience members instead – it was the funniest part of the night as far as I was concerned.
The whole thing was a bit of a trainwreck, but still fun, and I’m happy to have blown out the cobwebs. I’ve got a bunch of spots booked over the next month, starting with a ten-spot at Whole Lotta Comedy in Surbiton this Sunday.