Week 14: Hecklers, Why Did It Have To Be Hecklers?

Friday 6th April 2018

Reading time 4 minute 17 seconds

And then it all kicked off like a Cockney funeral

Last Saturday night I performed at a comedy show and it was the most aggressive and fun night I’ve had in quite some time.

The audience consisted of twenty six people eight of whom were a rowdy and rather noisy hen party. I could end this here as I’m sure that you have already guessed the rest. 

We are all guilty of shouting at our TV’s when Mrs Browns Boys is on but Stand up, and live comedy is not enhanced by people constantly screaming out, or so I thought.

Why a group of women celebrating the upcoming nuptials of a friend would want to go to a comedy night where you need to shut up and listen is a mystery to me…..but then so is marriage itself. 

I’d gigged to a room of around a hundred people the night before and apart from nearly vomiting through fear seven times prior to going on stage I actually gave a reasonable account of myself. The nerves still grip me and almost puking up in front of a promoter I hold in high regard was not my most professional moment. 

However on the following evening I found myself in a different comedy room and told myself that nerves are useless so just lock them away. I was confident and I was in a playful mood. It was going to be a great night and using the opening line of Tango and Cash I said to myself “Let’s do it!”. 

The MC opened proceedings and the rowdy Hens were in full swing. They all had small penis straws in their drinks and as I’m not exactly blessed in that department I thought they looked a reasonable size.  When I say ‘drinks’ one woman had her penis straw in a bottle of Prosecco. They were a classy bunch. Almost immediately the Hen party were annoying the other audience members with their antics and the thing about the British is that we are so polite no one said anything. Not even a shush. There was of course a tut but as we all know no one who has consumed at least 3 bottles of cheap bubbles can hear that. 

The MC told them they needed to be quiet and they were momentarily as the audience welcomed on the first act. Generally when I’m at gigs I like to sit at the back of the room to watch what’s going on and I’m glad I did as I witnessed a real event. 

The first act started his routine and the Hen party kept interrupting him although to be fair the Hen herself seemed nice but her soon to be daughter in law had clearly been drinking since 1998. The act engaged and made a valiant attempt to them shut up but trying to make drunk people listen is like trying to put a condom on an elephant. It’s very difficult and ultimately ends in endangering the species. They bantered back and forth and then he said a joke at the expense of the daughter in law. The room laughed. The daughter in-law laughed. I laughed. It was funny. Everyone thought so. Well, almost everyone.

One member of the hen party took offence to what had been said and whilst the rest of the room had already moved on the offended lady spoke up to express her unhappiness. 

Eloquence was not her forte and she yelled in a very aggressive manner telling the comedian he was bang out of order for making fun of her niece. 

Aggressive Aunty was told it was ok by her group, and it was just a bit of fun, but this was not enough to console her so the comedian threw a put down joke her way. The room laughed. This did not quash the fire within her. If anything, it was like kerosene. 

Aunty asked the comedian to apologise, he said no and he stood by what he said. 

Then the niece got angry at the comedian which was weird as previously she had been enjoying herself. 

Anger was now spreading like wildfire and I actually heard the words “leave it Sandra”. 

The atmosphere was insane and it was like the Opera and Football all rolled into one. I sat there wondering if I had become a trouble divining stick. Aunty went to stand up three times and each time her niece pulled her back down. The fourth time however the niece was chatting to someone else and Aunty stood up unrestricted. 

She didn’t really know what to do at this point as standing up and shouting abuse seemed to be her only plan but given she was in this position she would have to follow it through. 

She then swagger staggered to the stage with Prosecco in hand and it looked as though she was going to glass the comedian. Her other mates stopped her in time and were dragging her back all the while she was calling the comedian a lady’s special place. 

The rest of the audience reeled at this. 

Aunty was dragged back to her seat and announced to the room “Shut up and get on with it” which I thought was thoughtful of her. The comedian worked the room for a few more minutes said thank you and he left the stage. At this point the MC announced a 10-minute break and the relief on everyone showed. 

After the interval eight people didn’t return. Regrettably it wasn’t the hen party. 

It was then my turn to perform. The Hen party were still unable to be quiet, Aunty was still fuming, and I hadn’t done anything wrong but I was guilty by association. 

As they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, shut up I asked the bride to be if myself and the remaining audience members may attend the wedding so we could sit there during the speeches, randomly shouting out nonsense drowning out all the important parts of the vows and speeches. The hen party looked confused by this while the other audience members laughed. 

I hobbled through the remainder of my routine and left the stage on what was truly an epic night. I learnt that performing comedy is not always about making people laugh. Sometimes it’s just about survival.

This week’s photo is a Tut-tut in Brighton which everybody heard.

Week 12: Please Don’t Live With Me

Friday 30th March 2018 

Reading time 3 minutes 02 seconds

If you believe your enlightened go spend a week with your family – Ram Daas

I’m 47 years old, during my time I’ve rarely lived alone and mainly shared my space with others. Some family, some friends, some idiots. OK, lots of idiots, or were they? The common factor that I’ve heard from those that have shared a space with me is that I’m not always that easy to live with but that’s what idiots would say because I believe I’m relaxed, level headed, thoughtful, humble………

Clearly they were all wrong, then finally last week it started to dawn on me that maybe I was the problem.

I spent the last 10 days living with a friend in New York. We were fairly close as mates, well as close as we let one another be. I thought being with him for that duration would test my patience, it turned out it tested his.

I like this guy, there is no filter with him. He says what he thinks and while that’s not appreciated by most of society for fear of upsetting other people he doesn’t subscribe to that nonsense.  He reminds me of my brilliant step mum who was an honest talking South African lady who called it like she saw it. She was a force of nature and if she gave you a tongue lashing you knew you were lashed. 

Matthew you look terrible in that top. 

Matthew stop being mean and horrible.

Matthew, don’t buy a house with a flat roof. 

Matthew eat this you’ll like it. What do you mean you don’t like it, you’re wrong, you’ve not tried it enough.

Matthew stop being sick

She was always right of course, apart from that top, I loved that top.

So back to New York, the towel that we stood on by the shower was wringing wet. I allegedly screamed at him. 

How did this towel get so wet? 

Why didn’t you hang it up when you were finished?

You stood on this for all of 30 seconds, did you take it in the shower with you?

What are you some sort of animal? 

I’ve got to live with this for 10 days?

He looked at me and ignored me.

I didn’t think nothing more of it.

Then the next day he asked if I’d calmed down about the Towel? What was he on about? What towel? He then replayed at the same volume my exact words and actions. It sounded like my step mum, exactly like my step mum, and me but without that whiney nasal sound I believe I have [he does a very good me impression]. 

He was doing the flailing around of my arms, the head thrown back in disbelief, it was like looking in a mirror although one that made me look a little taller and not so good looking.

He wondered at the time if he should punch me to calm me down. Damm, I think I agreed with him. I may of, just maybe over reacted.

I then started thinking about all the times I’ve spoken to people and it turns out I was sounding angry and aggressive at them but I thought I was just expressing an opinion.

Damm it could be me………alongside people misunderstanding me.

My dilemma is should I change? 

I’m 47 years old. I’ve probably got 16ish summers remaining.

Is it worth putting the energy into being a better person to live with or say to those that I do cohabitate with that this is me?

I mean those books that need reading or the jokes I wish to write are not going to be realised if I’m trying to be a better person to live with are they?  Plus, how many more people will I live with? I do believe I can change. Almost anything can be achieved if you really want it to happen, but you need to really want it.

While typing this up my sister asked what I was doing. I explained that I was writing about my failures as a housemate, she said she had a few hours spare to give examples as she had hundreds. I declined her sarcastic offer.

I was then reminded that on the very few occasions she visited my home I let her know that her shoes and coat are now by the front door for when she’s ready to leave. This is normally within 5 minutes of her arrival. I thought I was just being practical. Turns out it’s possibly seen as rude.

No, I’m not going to change. Don’t get a towel that wet there’s no need. Don’t leave your shoes scattered to the wind. I’ll be travelling and living alone I guess.

Funniest experience this week: Spending time with my sister. We laugh a lot together, but obviously it’s at her house.

Picture: Me outside New Yorks comedy cellar.

Week 10: As A Child I Faked My Own Death

Friday 16th March 2018

Reading Time 3 minutes 12 seconds

“Oh, oh I’m trapped, like a fool I’m in a cage, I can’t get out, you see I’m trapped” – Colonel Abrams.

When I was 13 years old I had library fines that amounted to about 90p.

Way back then that was a lot of money and if I gave you some further context to show you how much a packet of cigarettes would have set you back in 1984 it would have been £1.10.

Because I owed the library money, and because I couldn’t live with the guilt, I decided to fake my own death. 

Now this may seem a bit dramatic, and a lot of work, but I had time. I didn’t have money however as I was already trying to find another 30 pence to buy some cigarettes. Also I’d committed a crime before so it was a road well-travelled and the ‘crime’ I had committed was to create my own stash of one-pound coins by gluing five pence pieces together, spraying them gold, and then using them at the school disco to buy sweets.

In essence I was a villain and I was showing potential. Or as the hard necked gangsters would say I had ‘form’.

The obvious thing to ask at this point is why I didn’t just pay my library fines with one of my stash of fake pound coins? It’s a good question but I was sure the astute people in the Library would notice as the lighting there was much better than it was at the school disco. I’d heard the saying that if you died your debts died with you. So with this in mind I was done and my plan to fake my own death started to take shape.

These days you can create a new identity on your phone but in the early 80’s the internet wasn’t even a glint in its creator’s eye and home printing was a very long way off. 

That meant creating a new identity was not an easy undertaking and I knew that it would take guile and perseverance so I managed to get a copy of my birth certificate and then I then gained access to a photo copy machine. 

Photocopiers, like the Internet, were not that accessible in the 80’s and ironically the one I used on this occasion was at the library. I made one copy of my original birth certificate and then somehow managed to fade out my name.

It was at this point my new alter ego was born. Jason Lambert. I cannot recall the decision around “Jason” but the surname “Lambert” was in honour of the greatest Frenchman that has ever lived. I’m talking about Christopher Lambert or “The Highlander” as he is more commonly known. 

Next I went to the library, not to use their copier, but to return the books with the fines on them. Acting was my number one subject at school and I was using the full range of my craft. I explained to the Librarian that my best friend Mat Wills had tragically died and in doing so I started to cry a little. “He was such a great guy. Did you know him?” I was grief stricken for poor dead me and I remember telling the librarian what an amazing human being Mat Wills was and how he would be missed. He was so funny. 

“Did you see him in the school play he directed and co-wrote which won the award for best show?” It was truly inspiring. By the end of my tall tale you would have thought Mat Wills was a humanitarian version of Eric Morecambe. 

I may have overdone it but I was 3 feet and 8 inches and little people didn’t lie, that was just how it was in the 80’s. Children, especially short ones could be trusted. 

“There were fines on the book you say?” I explained I was just a poor schoolboy and asked if I should send in his mum after the funeral? No? OK then well thanks for letting him off he really would have appreciated it.

The librarian accepted my story and I walked away from the counter feeling quite cocky. 

Mat Wills was dead. Jason Lambert was just about to be born.

A week later I returned to the library, ensuring that there was a different librarian at the desk and I registered as Jason Lambert. Job Done. I had a new identity and I’d avoided paying the fine. I thought I was so clever. 

The funny thing is the Jason Lambert ID was never used again as it was a one hit crime. 

That is until now. I’m thinking about resurrecting Jason as I’m in a predicament and the only way I can think of to get out of this predicament is to kill myself off and come back as someone else. Sounds a bit OTT but if tell you that I find myself desperately wanting to abandon my football team and find happiness in supporting someone else you’ll understand. You can change everything about yourself from your sex to your name but it’s unacceptable to switch football allegiances and abandoning your football club is quite simply the last taboo in Britain. If you know me you’ll know that I’m not a taboo breaker and I’m not even a taboo drinker.

So I’m thinking about using Jason Lambert as the enabler to becoming a Tottenham Hotspur fan. That’s’ the kind of team he’d support, the poor poor bastard but at least he’d be happier than Mat Wills. May he rest in peace. 

This week’s picture: Happier times at my football clubs stadium. This was taken while it was still being built and stolen from the Taxpayer and we’d not played any games, invaded pitches or threatened OAP’s. Those were the days.

Week 09: Am I A Rat?

Friday 2nd March 2018

Some day’s you’re the pigeon, others you’re the statue

Reading time 2 minutes 44 seconds

After a recent meal with a few friends my mate Jonny was toing and froing with the waitress and he asked her for a coffee. The waitress, doing her job rather well, explained that they have many types of coffee including Espresso, Macchiato, Latte, Cappuccino, Irish, Jamaican, Turkish, Australian, Vianeesse, Affogato, Mocha, Duplo, Iced, French Press, Percolated, Americano & various Liqueur coffees.

Jonny said “Errrrmm….can I have a Black Coffee please”.

The entire table laughed, the waitress rolled her eyes and walked away with the uncomplicated order. 

We asked Jonny why he chose a regular black coffee when the world was his coffee oyster and you know what he said?

“I panicked”.

This really tickled me but actually that kind of panic is real and it happens to us all when we least expect it. 

This week for example I panicked and the consequence was that I unwittingly hurt a small child. Let me explain;

I was walking through St Pancras station on my way to perform a comedy gig and saw an angry looking mum approaching. She was being followed a few steps behind by, what I assume was her child, and guessed was aged about 5. The kid was eating some type of sweet but as she walked by it dropped out of her mouth and onto the floor.

She stopped. 

She didn’t cry but she looked gutted as it looked to be her last one and I felt sad for her as you realise life can be cruel sometimes, particularly when you are 5. You could see that she was upset but this girl was resilient. 

Realising her mum hadn’t seen the error she picked the sweet from the pavement, looked at her mum again to ensure she’d not been spotted, and promptly shoved the whole thing in her mouth. The look on her face now had a mix of guilt and satisfaction on it.

It was hilarious. 

The range of emotions that girl had displayed on her face in those few seconds were exquisite and it made me burst out into laughter.

Now….some of you may be aware that I have a very loud and annoying laugh and I do not contain it. On this occasion I let it run free and in that moment it was the Usain Bolt of laughs as it had legged it from my big fat gob and was sprinting around the station. 

The angry mother stopped in her tracks.

She turned, looked at me and growled “WHAT’S SO FUNNY?” 

I then repeated the actions of my mate Jonny and I panicked.

“Your daughter…she dropped her last sweet… and she picked it up off the floor and ate it” 

The little girl glared at me. 

The mum then grabbed her daughter by the arm, gave her a telling off followed by a light cuff around the head and made her spit out the sweet. The girl glared harder at me. I could see her thinking how could this small stranger tell tales on me? And she is right as she had not wronged me in any way at all and if anything she’d bought joy into my life by making me laugh so hard. 

I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Not that I should tell tales on small children but that Panic is a response that can be managed and overcome. Breath, take a moment and then act. It’s just another tool to apply into my life.

“Life is 10% what you experience and 90% how you respond to it.” Dorothy M Neddermeyer

Week 8: I’m The Annoying Practical Joker

Friday 23rd February 2018

Reading time 2 minutes 49 seconds

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to be back at my old company. I only do few days now and again but I like the feeling of being based in an office although at the same time it makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to try and follow a crazy dream. 

At my old company; 

· The people are supportive of my career change

· I don’t mind the work 

· It pays better than my comedy career

· The coffee is great & free

· There are over 50 places to choose lunch from within a very small radius. [Which is actually irrelevant as I always go to the same place and my order never changes.]

· There is a comfort of being with other human beings as you can go a bit crazy on your own day after day.

I’ll be honest I struggle with the transition of being the ‘at home Comedian in the making’ to ‘that guy who works in an office’ as I find that I’m not always able to turn off the person who wants to make people laugh and sometimes, just sometimes, this is not always appreciated in an office where people are trying to concentrate and do stuff. My Dad always said no one really knows what Office workers do, hence the Stuff comment.

Here are some recent examples;

Example 1

I was with a colleague in Tesco and we were buying some Champagne. What it was for isn’t relevant but it wasn’t for either of us. Anyway we had paid for the expensive booze and as normal people do we went to leave the store as the transaction was complete. As we exited the store past the security guard, I felt compelled to shout “RUN!” and because I said it we both legged it like not so common criminals [we had Champagne!] except we weren’t and no-one really cared.

Example 2

Occasionally I sit next to someone who has a horde of chocolate in their pedestal. She warned me that I wasn’t to go in there, under any circumstance, and that she was doing me a favour. When she left five minutes later to run an errand I promptly replaced her pedestal with an empty one. One of us found it funny. 

Example 3

I work with a person who is a bit of a germaphobe and when I say ‘a bit’ I mean he full on freaks out if any sign of unwanted dirt comes anywhere near him. One day he handed me his phone to speak to another colleague and once I had finished he asked me to get the anti-bacterial wipes in order to clean my germs off. I was slightly offended so I did the only option open to me, licked his phone and walked off.

These events really tickled me as it plays to my sense of schoolboy humour and now I work on my own I often don’t get a chance to be stupid like this at home. Well actually I do but it doesn’t count if no one is watching………….Right?

And therein lies a dilemma.

When I’m in the office I’m paid to do a different job, which doesn’t include being a fool, and my suffering colleagues are not my audience members. Having said that I need my mind to be free and unhindered in order to create.

Comedy, like office work, is a serious business and all the while I’m doing both I need to be able to find the switch from one to the other but also I should allow my office work to feed my comedy and not feel like I need to be Mr Serious all of the time and whatever line of work you are in there is an absolute requirement to have fun. Especially if you are a budding Comedian….

The photo is of my neighbour and me [he wore shorts, I wore pyjamas]. It makes me laugh as I genuinely forget how tiny I am. Our entire street comes out to clear the road after it snows which is lovely and spits in the face of the community is dead argument.