There are some rough gigs in this country. Some that would terrify you. There are gigs in Nottingham, Cardiff and Belfast that you just don't care how well you go down, you're just happy that you got out alive. But of all these drunken, violent hell-holes perhaps the very worst is, of course, The Lawn Tennis Club in Hampstead.
Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club to be precise. Last night I gigged at the Funny Side of Covent Garden (traitor Dave's gig) first. Right at the front were a bunch of people in from Newcastle who were drunk but utterly delightful. It was a fun gig in a room that's always a pleasure to play. Then it was off to Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club to do a gig that, I assumed, was going to be posh and well-mannered personified. How wrong I was (a bit). On my way to the gig I got a message from Nick Doody who had just come off stage there. He said that they were very nice and very quiet. That sounded good to me. Nice is good. When I arrived there Hils Barker was on stage and doing very well indeed. Nick was right. This audience were lovely. A little bit quiet but definitely very lovely. I was stupidly looking forward to going on stage.
Half an hour later and it was my turn. I was feeling very energetic last night, or as energetic as I can be, and that feeling seemed to then go through the audience because they definitely got a bit more vocal. It was fun. I was bantering back and forth to a man from Derbyshire sitting in the front row and the room seemed to really like it, as did he. Then I spoke to people on the table next to him. They were VERY vocal. They were fun and funny and it was a treat to just bounce things off them and have a laugh. Sadly, one of them decided that he wanted to bounce something off me too. He threw a candle at me.
It was the single most pathetic attempts at violence I have ever encountered. The man was called Don. He was laughing a lot and having fun but something in him just snapped. I'm still confused as to what it was but I think he was basically fucked off that I was making his wife and friends laugh. He decided that he didn't like me and wanted to show it by throwing a glass at me. That could have been very dangerous. He could have cut my face or even taken one of my lovely, lovely eyes out. Pathetically, for Don, he grabbed the glass by the top not noticing that there was a lit tea light inside. As he prepared to throw it he burnt his hand and dropped the glass right in front of him. It smashed on his table and, although I was completely safe, a tiny little piece of candle wax splashed on my face. The room went silent. I just felt slightly embarrassed for him, I even thought he'd seriously hurt himself while trying to glass me. He told me to just "get on with it. You're not funny". Why he wanted me to get on with it when I wasn't funny is a bit bizarre. The room turned on him but he remained aggressive right back so I very calmly apologised that he wasn't having fun and then told him to leave. The room applauded as he went. I didn't like doing this because I really liked the people at Don's table and by telling him to leave I knew I'd lose them too. I was wrong. They stayed. That says all about Don that I ever want to know.
The rest of the gig was excellent. The audience's support during Dongate was just fantastic and ensured the rest of my time was fun. Afterwards pretty much everyone in the room came up to thank me followed by either "I'm very sorry about what happened" or "I don't think he's a member". I then found out that Don's behaviour is legendary. He's a pretty violent and aggressive man quite often, by the sounds of things, not just when he has to watch me tell some jokes.
It was a lovely gig with a lovely audience so I really don't have a thing to complain about, which is a shame because I'm sure if I sued Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club I could have got a few quid out of them. One lawyer after the gig even offered to represent me. I then went off for drinks with some of the audience and friends of the promoter. It was a lovely night. My only regret is that, due to the sensitivity of the audience, I didn't say what was on my mind when Don "threw" the candle on me and his hot, dripping wax splashed all over my face. I think you can see where I was going with that.