Halloween is meant to be scary right? But its meant to be scary in the way zombies, ghosts and sudden jumpy horror things are scary. Its not meant to be scary in the ‘a member of the audience climbing onstage to punch you in the face during the show’ type scary. It wasn’t even a full moon last night, as that at least would have made some sense. Regardless of whether you believe in hocus pocus type things or not, it has become very noticeable since gigging that full moons change people’s behavior. Audiences become more far more rowdy and angry. Pete at Downstairs At The Kings Head has a book that he’s filled in for many years, where he makes a note if gigs are odd for any reason and a large number of those match with full moons. Someone I know who worked with the police a lot, said they have to deal with more fights on full moons too. I wonder if its just easier to see people who look annoying on a full moon. Or maybe some sort of ancient werewolf type gene that makes us all go lupey. Arf. Anyway, this is entirely irrelevant as last night was not a full moon, but it did appear that some sort of rift opened up allowing some sort of evil spirit to possess a dickhead called Seamus who was on his stag do.
Hecklers are an odd breed of people. They can range from different levels of irritation. The first is the fun heckler. These often chirpy, overly lively people who no doubt have boring jobs and feel the need to join in whenever they get a chance at having a slightly better glimpse at the spotlight, are often quite fun. The heckles are never too vicious and sometimes can really help a gig out. Even if its at the expense of their dignity and a nickname they will be called for several centuries after. Then there is the drunk heckler, whose level of booze intake has given them a new world of confidence to shout out often inaudible nonsense. They are normally annoying immediately and while its fun to rip into them to the point where they will wake up the next day and regret being alive, its preferable that they are not in the crowd in the first place. The last level of hecklers are people like Seamus. The gig started fine. It wasn’t particularly busy and most of the crowd seemed very tame. I’d started by taking to a trainee solicitor and then her boyfriend who happened to be studying politics. I started to discuss the Nick Griffin QT appearance as it was a cheap link to some material I already have. By this point I had assumed the gig was under my belt and would chug along smoothly but never spectacularly. Then Seamus starts shouting ‘be fucking funny’. I used to get a sinking feeling when someone did that as its usually said without any hint of cheekiness and is often just a statement said by a miserable and rather shitty human being. It no longer bothers me and so I straight away insulted him then tried to diffuse the situation by asking why he was so angry so early on. The gig had barely started. I assumed someone had shat in his cereal that morning or something similarly bad and he was taking it out on me. People aren’t normally that vocally restless so soon into a show. It’d be like turning up to a day job and as someone said ‘Good Morning’, you turned on them, told them they were a complete fuckhead and proceeded to throw things off a desk without any due explanation. He denied all anger. He said he was from Edinburgh, the comedy capital and that we weren’t funny so he told us, because he’s the lovely sort of guy that points these things out subtly to avoid social faux pas. Then some woman in the crowd shouted ‘he’s on his period’, which was, I have to say, quite funny. Seamus held his hand up, somewhat agreeing with her. I then, thinking this was funny, said ‘either he’s put his hand up agreeing with you or he’s doing a Nazi salute which is why he got angry at me insulting Nick Griffin.’ Thanks thanks I’m professional don’t you know.
That was when the worm turned. He started shouting that I can’t associate him with Nazi’s and how dare I do that and then climbed onto the stage, drink in hand, threatening to punch me. There are no security at the Leicester Square Theatre and the manager was in the office so no one at all rushed to my aid. Instead I was torn between thinking ‘how on earth do I stop this’ ‘do I try and hit him back’, and ‘is anyone filming this in case its my Jim Jeffries moment?’ The crowd booed him and told him to get off the stage, and I explained that he should pick on someone his own size instead of trying to gain renown for punching a hobbit. Eventually he got off stage, and the atmosphere was a little more than tense. I have learnt that the best way to warm up a crowd is not with the threat of witnessing physical violence. Unless of course its a UFC crowd. Or in Newcastle. We continued the show and Stuart Hudson did very well despite further heckles from Seamus who still hadn’t been removed and an audience who were scared of the possibilities of more violence. I was a bit shook up and not entirely keen on getting back on stage for fear of getting a face that looked like a Halloween mask and I told the manager that usually by now, Seamus would have been kicked out of the club. We came to the conclusion that as he’d been calmed down and his mates had surrounded him, that we would leave it instead of making it worse. There were 8 of them and only a few staff so the only way to deal with them would be calling the police. So heading back onstage I did some material, then decided to speak to Seamus again, hoping to be friendly and do some material on weddings as, unfortunately for his bride, he was soon to be wed. It was actually going ok, but then two police walked into the room, grabbed him, and kicked all of them out. To say that they’d closed the stable door after the horse had bolted, would’ve been an understatement. The horse was miles away by that point. It had got on a speed boat and emigrated. Again, any atmosphere that was recreated, was completely sucked away as though Joseph Fritzel has just walked onstage in just his pants and started a lecture on how to make a hospitable cellar. I vocally stated that things were awkward and somebody in the audience asked me to sing a song to break the tension, so I did Kermit the Frog singing its not easy being green, as Seamus and crew were hurriedly kicked the fuck out. Then, a sigh of relief from everyone and the gig became playable again. I immediately drank three pints in quick succession.
Ultimately, what have I learnt from the experience? Well firstly, its goddamn lucky he didn’t punch me as I would’ve taken him down in a signature Douieb blow. This involves running away till he catches me, then fully accepting his fist into my face to alleviate the matter, before crying until he feels a bit guilty. Trust me, no one wants to see that. I’ve also learnt that comedians are pretty vulnerable on stage at times. I’ve heard tales of people being attacked or threatened on stage before, but you don’t realise quite how terrifying it is until it happens. Most importantly, people shouldn’t go to comedy clubs if they don’t want to enjoy themselves. If you are going to be physically threatening then spend your evening somewhere else. Preferably somewhere someone will really hurt you back and teach you a lesson, or arrest you. Not quite the Halloween I was expecting. I didn’t do any of my pre-prepared Halloween jokes, and I’m really pleased I didn’t dress up as a zombie although it would have given me licence to bite Seamus’s face.
Sorry it’s not a funny blog today, but I have to say, the event wasn’t particularly funny. There was a nice ending to everything though. On the tube home there was a man dressed as Wally (Waldo for you yanks), in full red and white stripey hat and jumper with thick black glasses. I spotted him immediately. That means I win.