Fatal Distraction

Saturday January 7th, 2012 – St. Cloud, MN

Welcome to the unpredictable world of live entertainment. Just when I thought I had my battle plan in motion, along comes some boozed up babbling bubblehead bimbo to pee in my pool and ruin the entire evening. I went on stage with a plan, but came off with a pain.

That’s how it goes sometimes. In a situation where the public is involved, one can never predict how any given performance will turn out. It only takes a single idiot to transform a hot show into hell itself, but it was more than that tonight. The whole audience was odd.

Last night’s vibe was outstanding. I felt it as soon as I stepped on stage, and was able to establish my rhythm and get in a groove and stay there to the end. Tonight, I felt the polar opposite and knew I was in for rough sailing less than thirty seconds in. I saw the signals.

For whatever reason, this was just not a good group. They might be nice people, but that has nothing to do with whether they’re a good comedy audience or not. The cards weren’t stacked in my favor, and all I could do was play out the hand and leave. No jackpots here.

They were chatty as a group, and that was the first red flag. Pockets of discussion broke out randomly across the room at various times, and it was loud enough to not only distract me but it carried over to other tables too. I’d put out one fire, and another would flare up.

That’s not always a sign of rudeness. Sometimes it means something I said sparked up a conversation and people say “Yes! I remember when that happened to me.” Other times it is a sign of rudeness, and I wasn’t able to tell tonight. All I know is that it was distracting.

Red flag number two was that an inordinate amount of the audience got up to go to the bathroom at the worst possible moment. They’d walk in front of the stage and disrupt my flow at exactly the wrong time, and it threw me off course even more. How frustrating.

What put it over the top was the biggest red flag of all – a female heckler. Not only that, it was her birthday. And she was drunk. And didn’t have a date. And wasn’t thrilled about it. And she was biracial, and chose to play that card. And nobody would throw her out, so I was stuck with her the entire set. It was like having an elephant sit on my lap at dinner.

Dealing with all those distractions, plus a less than stellar sound system threw me out of my rhythm time and time again. I have enough experience to be able to start over or work around it, but I came here with the express purpose of working on an organized set list for my DVD recording next Wednesday. It went fine last night, but tonight it was a total loss.

Female hecklers are the worst. If the comedian slams them too hard, audiences can turn and sympathize with her no matter how drunk and stupid she may be. This one was bound and determined to make up for her lack of attention from Daddy and wouldn’t take no for an answer. After a dozen times of trying to be polite, I was forced to bring out the artillery and vaporize her. The crowd loved it as they always do, but I never enjoy these scenarios.

One Response to “Fatal Distraction”

  1. Chrys Lavelette Says:

    “Rough crowd” (adjusts necktie). I’m feeling your pain, my friend. And what I’ll NEVER understand is when management sees a heckler taking over not only the show but the room, and they do nothing! EVERYBODY there paid to see A SHOW, not some alcoholic being an alcoholic…I said this decades ago at a venue to management: “When you get rowdy people in the audience when a band has been booked, you remove them. Why aren’t you doing that for us? Is it because we’re getting only the door, and you’re getting a people-drawing show for free, so why bother?” He said nothing and walked away.

    And one night, I went to see Paula Poundstone at the Funny Firm…20 mins into her set a couple–at a table closest to the stage–became a distraction by arguing and kissing and arguing and necking throughout the set…30+ mins later I got up from my table and said to management: “I paid money to listen to Paula Poundstone’s material, NOT to watch her deal with 2 assholes who are obviously drunk. As A Paying Customer, DO Something About It.”

    10 MINUTES LATER management walked these two morons out, while the audience applauded their exiting, and the guy was giving the audience the finger…….the next, and final, 10 mins of Paula’s set was spent blathering about “them”, and the audience didn’t get to see a Poundstone show. And you KNOW that there were others in the audience that were thinking: “Gee, I wish someone would stop them!”

    It infuriates me that management doesn’t take the same steps to control a drunk that they would if there were a singer/band on stage. It takes more concentration for people to enjoy a comedy show than it does a band.

    But that’s the beauty of a professional comic’s delivery, it makes it seem effortless…and I know you’re that Professional.

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