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Saturday 23rd February 2013
We arrived at the Canterbury Gulbenkian very early, electing to set off just after lunch to miss the traffic for various London sporting fixtures. The cafe was busy with a kids birthday party and some kind of cake competition going on. A long table loaded with cakes and people sitting round waiting to taste them. Both Giles and I are a little stout and we imagined that they might think we were a couple more judges arriving. Or at least that we might be co-opted into the tasting. We clearly both knew an awful lot about cake.
But there was no cake for us, instead we headed back stage. The afternoon show had just finished and the stage was full of straw and puppets. I don't know what had been going on. Shame we didn't get here earlier to see.
My own show went well. It was about two thirds full with over 200 people in, which was fine (though I think a little down on last year) and it was fun to have the run of a big stage. Last night I had been forced to stand in one corner of the space so that the lights wouldn't get on to the projector screen, but tonight the screen was high up and I could move about. I felt a bit ore comfortable with the script and remembered a few gags that had eluded me last night. I have been trying to reincorporate the "Men are from Britain, Women are from continental Europe" bit that was in the original 2002 show, but it hasn't really caught fire over the last two nights and I think I had probably made the right decision to drop it. It slows the end down a bit and doesn't add too much - maybe I'll try it in the podcast instead!
There was a slight issue with a drunken heckler. He was, I think, an over enthusiastic fan who had just had a bit too much to drink, but in the first half he was trying to get involved in the action, whilst nearly always failing to choose the right moment, commenting when I was speaking or the audience were laughing at something else. I wasn't bothered by him but just worried that he was making the rest of the crowd uneasy. In the second half he tried a bit harder, but he wasn't hard to outwit and luckily it didn't wreck things too much. It doesn't augur too well for these weekend gigs though. This kind of heckler thinks they are helping the night along by heckling and that that is what stand up is about. But even in clubs it's usually an unwanted distraction and in a more theatrical show it can be a disaster. If a comedian is fearful that any gap he or she leaves might be filled with a witless remark or that any rhetorical question might get a fatuous response then it's difficult for him or her to give their best. The audience are put on edge and can't relax. It's not a helpful thing to do and it just makes everyone hate and pity you. The hit and run one-off heckle can sometimes work, but what never works is persistent heckling. Even if you manage one good one it will be the law of diminishing returns, but alas most hecklers are as useless and unfunny as the guy tonight. I didn't give him too hard a time because he was clearly an over-excited fan and it didn't wreck a good show. But I hope it doesn't happen too many more times on this tour.
Home by midnight again. The tour has started well. Only 54 to go now. Too early to start the countdown!
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