As a gigging stand-up comedian you get a few heckles every now again, maybe more if you’re shit!
And in my 10+ years on the circuit I’ve had a few heckles thrown my way… “you’re wank!” from a very charming and classy woman in Sheffield who was offended that I was talking about things in the news, cos in her words “you’re talking about things that are going on in the world and that’s not right!”… What an absolute bellend!
Or there was the “I can’t see you” from a guy in King’s Lynn who made the heckle because I was wearing a black shirt, and the backdrop curtain was black and you know… I’m a black man… Get it? Hilarious right? *Eyes rolling* Again, what an absolute bellend!
However, those bellends were top-trumped by perhaps the most innocent heckle of all last weekend when performing my tour show in London’s Soho Theatre.
First of all, you don’t usually expect to be heckled at your own tour show. A tour show is different to a circuit gig. At a tour show the audience know who you are and they’ve come out specifically to see you, which means they’re invested in your comedy and so there’s less need for heckling in a way. But to my surprise it happened.
It’s a busy Saturday night, the room is packed out and my intro music hits. I walk out to a warm round of applause from what feels like a really up for it crowd and in my head I’m thinking “Oh ok, this could be a good one.” I say my first line, which is a very casual throwaway joke after talking to member of the audience and then it comes, a sound from the back of the room which happens to coincide with the laughter dying down from the audience, therefore it sounds louder than it actually is and is clearly audible to everyone in the room.
At first I assume it’s someone who got the joke late (there’s always one) and they’ve spat their drink out as they laugh. So at first I’m like “Oh hello!” If that’s how they’re laughing at the first comment, can you imagine how they’re going to be at the end of the show. But then things take an unexpected twist as another voice from the back of the room says “He’s just been sick”… Yep! You’ve read correctly… Sick! Vomited! Right at the start of the show! Boom!
I see someone run out of the room – I’m guessing the chief culprit – and then an entire section of the crowd get up and move to the side. In my head I’m thinking “What the f*ck do I do now?!” I’ve definitely had easier starts to gigs! How am I meant to get on with the show? A guy has just been sick in the audience! And now I’m meant to make jokes? What on earth am I going to say that’s going to be as memorable as someone spewing up all over the back of someone’s coat or shoes (my condolences to that particular woman)… Wow! Just… wow!
But as they say, the show must go on, and it did… eventually – without the sick person, who was taken care of by the professional venue staff, although his friends all stayed. In their words “I’m sure he’ll be fine”, which I believe was their way of saying “I’ve paid for my ticket. I’m not letting it waste cos his insides are dodgy!” But the show went on, but only AFTER we had a short break so the venue staff could erm… “clean up the mess”, and during that time I kept on thinking “how has someone been sick in the audience within the first minute?” Has the sight of me walking on to the stage just caused this guy’s body to go “Ewww!”
In the end we discovered it may have been a dodgy restaurant nearby that caused this guy to be sick. But kudos to the venue staff for being so efficient. Kudos to the rest of the audience for being patient and understanding and still being up for a show afterwards despite the delay. And kudos to the sick guy… Thanks for the most brutal heckle ever.