The big room at Warwick Arts Centre tonight, which is a step up (though think we played it as Lee and Herring) and it was nearly full too, so I was looking forward to a fun one. It was all going pretty well, though early on someone was talking in quite a loud voice, not so loud that I could really break out of what I was doing and ask him to shush, but still slightly distracting. There's the danger of looking crazy or overly angry if you address every tiny interruption and as long as someone isn't ruining stuff for everyone else then I will tend to leave something of this level. He might just have been getting to his seat late or be asking a friend about a line he'd missed. Though I did sense a slight air of aggression.
Just as I got to one of the more charming parts of the show - my childhood stories- I heard the slightly raised voice again. It wasn't loud enough to hear what he was saying, but it was persistent so I took the opportunity to make a comment and shushed him like a child, which seemed apt as it was story time. He seemed to be arguing with someone in what my many hours of stage made me realise straight away was a drunken manner. He finally realised that I was addressing him and started addressing me with some level of aggression and anger. "You fat pig!" he shouted.
"Really," I replied, "Is that the best you've come up with in 20 minutes?" I may have commented on the fact that he should have seen me last year, but he wasn't listening and was blathering on himself, mainly incoherently, but basically revealing that he was A Christian who had come to see the show to give it a chance. I pointed out that in that case he might want to wait to hear a bit more of the show before he judges it. At least unlike some Christians who had taken a dislike to the show he had bought a ticket, but he had then got drunk (perhaps to give himself the confidence to interrupt) and not listened anyway. He apparently was clutching a Bible as well. But for a Christian he was rather angry and a little bit aggressive and said that he wanted to hit me for what I had done. I pointed out that he wasn't maybe the best Christian in the world. He was filled with indignant fury, but even though no staff seemed to be on hand to deal with him I wasn't that worried. As usual being on stage gave me the confidence to stand up to aggression that I would run from in real life. He told me that I wouldn't come to the Falls Road in Belfast and do this show and he had a point. I hadn't been invited to do it there, there was no venue on the road as far as I knew and it would seem unnecessarily confrontational to do the show out in the street in an area where religion is such a problem. I didn't mind the interruption at all, as it gave me a bit of variety and the man was too drunk to be much of an opponent and it amused me that he wanted to punch me rather than forgive me or talk to me. It went on for some time and I did make a point of thanking him for trying to see the show, but mainly for having given me some money. He told me he was going to come down and hit me, but as I was on quite a high stage that would be difficult, so I leant down and put my face nearer the ground and then turned the other cheek and turned round and proferred my other two cheeks as well. Finally he was ejected from the venue and so this little set piece got a big round of applause from the others.
Apparently he was there with a friend in a wheelchair who had no choice but to leave at the same time, which created more problems, which was a shame. Also a pity the angry man had not chosen to come with an open mind, in a sober state and seen the end of the show. He might not have been so angry. But as he left he told the usher. "Tell him if he wants a fight then I live in Coventry and he knows where to find me." Alas that was not enough information for me to track him down, though I think that if I went to the town and asked where the biggest cock hole in the city was then I might find him.
I think all in all it was a much better demonstration of dealing with a heckler than the famous one on Youtube, but I doubt that this one was being filmed by anyone. It created a wave of excitement and probably made the show go even better than it would have done anyway, though inevitably some people asked if it was all staged. I had kept my cool and dealt with it efficiently and amusingly and luckily (for now) no one was hurt. It was almost like the man knew I was trying to write a sketch show about the crazy stuff I have been up to this week and wanted to help.
Though I had been thinking about the show all day I hadn't got much down on paper yet for the show and so even though I didn't get in until midnight the alarm clock was set for 6.30am. Just as I was getting into bed my uncooperative brain started buzzing with ideas. I was confident that I'd get the show written in some form, but aware it was going to hurt a bit and that I was going to be pretty tired.
I have no one to blame but myself.