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.