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Audience interaction

On Thursday and Friday this week, I had two gigs that involved a great deal of audience interaction.

First up, I was in a town near Romford, performing in a sports bar with two hecklers on either side of the stage.

I was opening the night and the hecklers were already firing on all cylinders. One was called Colin and the other called Connor, which got a bit confusing but I managed to get their names right, although considering how much alcohol both had consumed, I doubt neither would have noticed if I’d got it wrong.

By my reckoning, Connor had consumed the most alcohol and was the slower of the two. When I made a joke about Imodium, he asked me to explain what Imodium was, as he genuinely had no idea. When I did expand his knowledge, he asked me why anyone would want to use that.

It wasn’t a bad gig, all things considered, I enjoyed it and I got some decent laughs for an opener, with the largest ones from my interaction with Colin and Connor.

The following evening, I was on guest MC duties at my local open mic night in Walthamstow. Now, this was well up there with the weirdest gigs I had ever done. We began the night with three people in the audience, which was 200% larger than Tuesday’s. And it was going okay, then just as the penultimate act in the first half was performing, two more audience members came in and the night was never going to be the same.

As soon as the George and Ange sat down, Ange was heckling in. Nothing malicious, just asking questions about what the act was saying, and making observations. George remained fairly silent at this point.

Just before I brought the final act of the half on, I thought I‘d try and get Ange to stop heckling. So I had a chat with her and this ended up in her lifting up her top, pulling down her bra and flashing me. It was my first proper flash and I’m sure that in front of a big crowd, it would have felt rock n roll. In front of five people, it was a just a bit weird. Nevertheless, I can say that I have been flashed by 20% of people in an audience.

In the second half, George and Ange were joined by Simon, who they didn’t know but was sitting next to them. When I was in the toilet at the interval, Simon asked me if there was any comedy on. I said that there was and he should come and watch it. I kind of wish I hadn’t made him the offer, as he was also very vocal and wouldn’t let one of the acts finish his routine.

I stepped in and told him to let him finish the routine and it kind of worked.

Next, it was George’s turn to shine. Now, George was a short bald man, with a white beard. And when I was trying to restore some sort of order, he got up to the stage area and tried to speak into the microphone, I told him to go and sit down, which he did, but then he said something like: “I sit down for stand-up, then I stand up. I sit down for stand-up, then I stand up.” He said this over and over again, for about a minute or so and was standing up and sitting down again. Then when I tried to engage him, he then pointed his finger at me and said: ‘Sorry? Sorry? Sorry?’ multiple times.

There really is very little you can do in this situation apart from relax, make light of it and wait until things calm down. But for a moment, I thought it was going to descend into chaos, as when George was sitting up and sitting down, someone took his chair away. He didn’t fall over, but I did get a nasty feeling that it could kick off.

Fortunately, things did calm down and we managed to make it to the end of the night with not much more fuss. I had ridden out the storm of weird and somehow managed to keep control of things, for a night that just won’t be forgotten.

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