I think my favourite ever heckler incident happened tonight in Chorley. I’ve had a few interesting ones in my time: there’s the one on Youtube
that was just mainly frustrating for me, the one in Harrogate where a drunk man took exception very early on and then tried to invite the audience to his birthday party, before exiting his long row by going past dozen of people rather than the two or three to his left and there was the earliest ever walk-out in Derby where I think the person was at the wrong gig, but still got offended straight away, left and then had to come back for their coat.
Tonight in Chorley, a lovely gig run by dedicated comedy fans, I wasn’t anticipating anything out of the ordinary. It had more or less sold out which is great and I nearly didn’t bother recording the show on my phone in my pocket, because I had a lot of stuff for the podcast already. And I was in a good mood. Ian and Estelle who run the gig usually give me a Chorley cake in my dressing room, but tonight had pushed the boat out and had a special “Richard Herring” Chorley cake made with cheese and mango chutney. I don’t particularly like regular Chorley cakes, or at least one or two a year whilst I am in Chorley is enough for me and I wasn’t holding out much hope for this comedy hybrid being anything special or even edible. But it was surprisingly delicious. We might have stumbled across the fast food of the future. All I ask is that is called a Richard Herring Chorley Cake (or RHCC). I don’t want any of the RHCC millions. Though I should insist that it is made with orange Cheddar (they had used Lancashire Cheese which I would say was a blasphemy if it hadn’t been so delicious). Well played Woodchats Coffee Shop who created these delicious Frankingsteins and who might add them to their menu now.
I went on stage and commented on the cakes and told people how I didn’t like Chorley cakes which were only fit for pigs. The audience seemed to take this joke to heart a bit and I worried I’d lost them. And as I got going with the show and my gentle routine about childhood misunderstandings about hymns I could sense some unease and hear someone saying stuff. But as I got to the end of the first routine, which I consider one of my least offensive and most accessible bits, I saw a lady getting up and making a bit of a fuss. It was so early in the show and I hadn’t really done anything wrong, apart from attack Chorley cakes, so I didn’t think it was a walk out, or if it was I assumed someone had somehow come to the wrong show. But the woman made her way towards the stage intent on making her complaints known and in quite a tizzy. I haven’t listened back to the recording, which I will put up in my podcast if it’s of listenable quality, and I was so confused by the interruption that it’s hard to recall it properly. She seemed upset by this gentle examination of childhood attitude to hymns and of course I was just flabbergasted as well as relieved that she hadn’t been to any of my other shows where the material was somewhat stronger.
She wanted me to give her the mic, but I wasn’t daft enough to do that, though it might have been entertaining. I did my job of putting her down for interrupting, though with a little internal reluctance as I don’t really want to upset anyone with my comedy, but then again just couldn’t believe that this routine could offend someone so much that they’d want to leave. It certainly livened up the gig to a point where I wondered if I’d be able to get the audience back into the right state of mind for the somewhat inoffensive show. Would Jesus really be upset about me portraying him dancing on a sofa or having a purple-headed mountain? The woman had come to the wrong show for her, but she had decided to turn this into a confrontation and it was good entertainment so I got as much out of it as possible, though it was such a surreal and unexpected occurrence that I wasn’t 100% on top of it. I would never have guessed anyone could be offended by this show, but every routine will upset someone if the wrong person happens to chance across it.
Later a lady would get up to go to the loo during my John Donne bit so I was able to riff about the people of Chorley being offended by strange stuff about hymns and metaphysical poets.
It was a great thing to call back to throughout the whole show, but it was only at the end of the first half that I thought to ask if she’d been alone or had come with anyone, as she had been the only one to leave. A man sheepishly put up his hand and said he had been with her and I wondered why he hadn’t left. “We were on a first date,” he told me, which made us all laugh even more. I admitted that I had probably ruined his chances, but that it might have been a lucky escape.
In the interval Ian told me that the lady who had left had been upset that I thought Jesus was a subject for comedy and that all the audience would be going to Hell for laughing and she asked why I couldn’t do comedy about garlic bread. I think the main problem with that is that Peter Kay might sue me for nicking his material.
It certainly livened up the gig and everyone else seemed to enjoy it, though I still feel a bit sorry for the lady in question. Gary, who wasn’t going to be getting a second date, I’ll guess, tweeted to say, “Richard , apologies . It was my first date with Lorraine . I had no idea she was so religious . It's not going well !” But Gary chose to stay with me rather than chase after her. I think he made the right choice. I will always be here for him. But this punchline to the first half was so perfect and every now and again I could do a risqué joke and say, “Thank God she left”.
It was a spectacular end to one of my favourite four night runs on any tour (the gigs at least, being away from home has never been so hard to deal with). And after it was all over, I got into the car with Luca (still unsure of which floor he lives on) and started the long journey home to be with my girls. I am still on the journey now, but will be back with them in the early hours of the morning.
I know that my comedy has brought a few couples together and at least one married couple came to one of my shows as one of their first dates, but I suspect that I have been the cause of more break-ups. But it’s good to know that things aren’t going to work out asap. So if you’re a fan of mine it’s probably best to bring your dates to one of my shows early on and then you’ll have a pretty solid idea of whether it’s going to work out or not.
The winner of this month’s monthly subscriber monthly draw is David Wright from Durham who will be receiving some kind of nice prize in the post this week - haven’t determined exactly what it will be, but suspect it might involve a signed snooker ball and a hand-made T shirt. You can be in with a chance of winning some lovely ebayable prizes if you pay a pound a more a month here
(you get an entry into each draw for every pound you donate). Or you can bid for similar prizes on eBay.
All your money will help fund future internet projects.