Edinburgh Fringe – Day 13 and 14

Yesterday’s show wasn’t one of my best. As soon as it began, a very vocal heckler called John began interrupting things and treating the gig as a conversation, talking over setups to kill the momentum of punchlines.

He wasn’t being malicious, he was just being very annoying and his contributions added no comedic value. Hecklers are fine when you can bounce off them, but when one is trying to be the alpha male in the room and has a total lack of self-awareness, it becomes a vacuum.  When I asked John if he was going to behave himself, he said that he would. Then he mimed zipping up his mouth and locking it. It can’t have been a very effective zip and lock combination, because it only worked for a few seconds before he started interrupting again.

It was hard to set the tone for the gig before I introduced Simon.  John made the whole crowd recoil in awkwardness. When I drew attention to the tension, John protested that it was all part of the Fringe experience. I said he didn’t have to stay and a few other audience members piped up and said John should leave. I said if John wouldn’t behave himself, we’d have an audience vote and he would be thrown out if a majority agreed on it. John accepted this. I then introduced Simon, who immediately put John’s presence in the room to an audience poll and John then willingly left.

Neither of us did particularly well, but didn’t totally die. It’s no coincidence that the biggest laughs were from people who came in after John had left. We started the gig on the back foot and the audience were never able to relax. I could have handled it better, but will try and learn from it.

The previous day’s show was much better. We had seven people in but they were very friendly and their contributions added to the show instead of derailing it.

Today’s show has the potential to be just as awkward and eventful as yesterday’s. The Scottish Defence League will be marching down past our venue to the parliament buildings, where they will be met by a counter march from anti-fascist protesters. There will be 600 police present to control things, but I am expecting things to get confrontational. It should all be over before I need to be down there, but there is definitely the potential for trouble.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

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