My holiday in Acton, pretending to be a slightly more dickish version of myself is over, and now back to my job of behaving like a slightly more dickish version of myself. It’s all playing isn’t it?
It was a slightly unusual gig in Liverpool. There was someone with a very distinctive laugh,a bit like a kookaburra, which rose high above the other laughs and seemed to last much longer than most. It was difficult to deal with. I was aware that everyone was distracted by it and yet if I tried to incorporate it into the show that might cause other problems. Firstly the person laughing was enjoying the show and drawing attention to them and making them self-conscious might ruin their evening. But secondly, if I drew attention to it then the joke might quickly fade and if also risked making the unusual sound even more distracting. Yet if I ignored it entirely it would look like I didn’t know how to cope with it. It’s a difficult tight rope to tread. It’s in a similar territory to the discussion I had with Jess Thom (Tourette’s Hero) on my podcast. Just as it seems wrong that someone with Tourettes can not sit in an audience for fear of aggravating other audience members, someone’s laugh is not something they should be expected to change. Though perhaps you have the control to stop yourself laughing (though not when someone as brilliant as me is on stage) that’s not really the point of a comedy show. You have to be allowed to enjoy it, just like everyone else.
And if someone is heckling you then you have a right to tell them to fuck off, but if someone is loudly enjoying what you’re doing- well chastising them will both spoil their evening and make others anxious about expressing their pleasure too
The laugh was amusing me and I think in the short term that was enough of a reaction, but I let the show settle in a bit before making an arch reference to it. It gave everyone the chance to laugh it off - yes we’d all spotted it and it was OK.
The laugh was high and giddy so it was an enjoyable sound to hear, though strangely there’s an odd psychological effect to being in an audience where someone is laughing more vociferously than you, which can put you off laughing. For me, the most amusing thing was that the laugh came from a big, bearded man, not as it sounded like, some kind of exotic animal. But every now and again I would make a little comment, my favourite being to chastise the rest of the audience for not developing an individual sounding laugh, because that meant I couldn’t ascertain how well things were going down with each audience member. We had fun with it, but I knew we’d done enough and I tried to back off from mentioning it in the second half.
It made for a memorable gig and created some fun ad-libs and I think we got over this potential bump in the road quite well. The man in question unnecessarily apologised to me afterwards. You can’t feel bad about doing the thing you’re meant to be doing. Overall by hopefully handling it sensitively and in proportion it was something that enhanced rather than spoiled other people’s night.