Bad Gig???

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Fellow comic, Jason Murphy, has initiated a site where comedians can tell the tales of bad-gigs we’ve had which are often shared and regaled in cars en route to and from gigs

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Here is my wee contribution … and here’s Jason’s site

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http://whengigsgobad.com/

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The Good, The Bad, and The Deafly Silence

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Stu Who?

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The idea of a truly memorable, bad-gig isn’t just about drunken hecklers and psychopathic promoters, y’know

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I’ve been attacked onstage by a dwarf, had them lower the asbestos safety curtain during a performance as the audience aggressively rushed the stage, dodged bottles of piss or lager at various festivals, had my genitals stroked by a mental heckler mid-performance, had the marquee set on fire by bikers during the show, just as the PA system exploded … And loved every moment of it … adding much to Mrs Who’s disturbed astonishment and increasing concern

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However, the Bad-Gigs I remember best are slightly more subtle, and bizarre … for example:

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Once you’ve been doing the UK gig circuit for a few years or so, the prospect of a 7-hour train trip to Brighton, to do a gig as part of their comedy festival, isn’t a particularly daunting prospect, especially being a well-seasoned traveller.

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Boarding the train at lunchtime in Edinburgh’s Waverley station, I grabbed a table-seat; spread myself across two seats, inflatable pillow sorted, smoked a tasty wee one-skinner in the toilet, headphones on, and my I-Pod playing a lively wee trance mix to encourage my nodding off for a kip, and hopefully waking up five hours later at London’s King’s Cross station; the first stop on the journey to Brighton.

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The trance-dance music of “Underworld” on my headphones is kicking in … my head is nodding to the beat, and as my eyelids are getting heavy … I notice that the elderly guy seated opposite me, on the other side of the table, is also nodding his head to the beat, rhythmically and spasmodically, in an increasingly agitated manner

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“Hmm? He’s fairly loving this music too. Wait a minute … I’m listening on headphones – how can he be hearing it?”

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At that, the twitching gentleman’s head dramatically dipped forward, and bounced off the table between us … and remained there … unmoving.

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It turned out he wasn’t actually grooving along with my dance music, but was instead having a heart-attack

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Deid  !!

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Fuxxake … a bad day for him, and his family, and a rather bizarre start to a day that was only going to get weirder by the hour.

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Forthwith, the train stopped at the next major station, Newcastle, the police came on board, we all told our story, the poor man’s body was removed, and our journey continued … now some 90 minutes behind schedule.

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I alighted at London’s King’s Cross Station … furiously wondering why we only ever use the word ‘alight’ when talking of trains or buses … and swiftly headed to use the station toilet, as travelling on The London Underground is often an eventful experience and prone to unexpected stoppages … or so I expected … and, as I sat down on the toilet, a large hand appeared from under the partition that separated the toilet cubicles

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“Gimme stuff”, said a deep, threatening, disembodied voice from the next cubicle

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“Fuck Off”, I sweetly replied.

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“Gimme stuff, Gimme stuff, Gimme stuff, Gimme stuff” … etc, etc … as I left the toilet, I was ominously threatened by the large hand’s owner … a large nutter with a boss-eye, and a lingering smell

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“Fuck Off”, I forcefully replied, as my Neanderthal buddy trailed along beside me, until we mercifully reached two policemen, who were standing at the top of the stairs leading down to The Underground

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And suddenly … he was gone!

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And, just as quickly, so was I.

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Arriving at Brighton with only an hour or so before showtime, I forego booking into my hotel as planned, head straight for the venue, introduce myself to the stage-manager, and ask can I quickly do a sound-check, using my musical backing track, as I intended doing a song during my spot.

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I get a slightly quizzical & curious look from the stage manager, she shrugs, and we do the sound-check

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Backstage, I freshened up in the dressing-room area and as I waited the arrival of fellow-comic and friend, the lovely Rhona Cameron, to arrive, the stage manager nervously shuffled into the room.

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I have some good news and some bad news … (I never knew people actually said clichés like that, but there ya go) … what one do you want first?”

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“I’ll have the bad news, thanx.” I answered, fascinated by her obvious nervousness.

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“Well .. you know how this gig is part of The Brighton Festival’s Minority Group Support Initiative?”

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“No. I never knew that.”… I said quietly and getting just a tad suspicious.

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“Well it’s a special show for minorities, and most of the audience are coming from the local Deaf Association”

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“Deaf?  A deaf comedy audience?”

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“Yeah … but there’s a problem”

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“That’s not the problem? The fact that they’re deaf?”

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“Well it is … and it isn’t”

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“Well that’s good … and that’s bad”

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“The problem is that the lady who was coming along to sign for the deaf has taken seriously ill … so, we now have no-one to sign the show.”

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“Really? We’ve got a deaf crowd and no signer?”

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“Yes”

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“So … what’s the good news?”

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“Well, I’ve just been told that there’s also a full bus-load of lesbians who are coming to see Rhona.”

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“How is that ’good news’”, I asked.

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“Well … they’re not deaf”, she simpered.

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As show-time approached, Rhona arrived and blew a proverbial gasket at the impending doom-laden prospect of a predominantly deaf audience, with no signer … although tempered, I’m sure, by the prospect of a bus-load of fellow-lesbians to connect with  … (fellow and lesbians is surely SUCH a mis-match of words) … and we were both slightly mollified by the stage-manager’s latest revelation that one audience member was, in fact, a skilled signer who was willing to step into the breach.

 

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Hooray!!!

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But … she was also painfully shy … and couldn’t face being onstage … so, she would sit in a chair in the front row, listen to what was said, turn around to face the crowd … without standing up, of course … sign what had been said, and repeat the process, line by line, gag by gag.

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Hooray!!

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And that’s precisely what she did … for my entire half-hour set … including the song which I finished my set with … now making sense of the stage-manager’s quizzical attitude to me using music, … as I sang my closing song, whose join-in-chorus, strangely enough, the deaf majority of the audience echoed it, loudly, to the rafters

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While the lesbians eyed me suspiciously, and silently

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As I lay in my hotel bed, later that night … desperately trying to avoid listening to the frantic thrustings and gruntings of the elderly couple in the adjoining room … I pondered what a long day of death, madness, deafness, and gay abandon I’d faced … and thought:

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“Best job in the world … Innit”

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Stu Who? – Sep 2010