Last night was the last of four gigs in Sheffield, my new favourite town, and it was an odd way to say goodbye. I guess these things just happen sometimes when you’re a comedian. You’ll anticipate a great gig to end an otherwise excellent weekend but it just doesn’t happen. I built it up in my head as a cracking, celebratory, laughter-filled evening to crown the days and nights of good times but, on the night, something just went wrong. Oh, it’s happened to me before and it’s nothing to be ashamed of but last night’s audience in Sheffield just died on their arses.
I don’t know if it was their first time being an audience but it just looked to me like they didn’t know what they were doing. I was on stage being absolutely brilliant in every way, improvising, throwing out gags, skilfully weaving tales of wonder, but this audience just didn’t know what to do. They just sat there and stared. Maybe sometimes I’m just too amazing and an audience will be stunned into silence but these guys were like that for a full 20 minutes (actually it was 18 minutes, always leave them wanting more). They just couldn’t get their heads round the fact that when I throw a well-crafted gag about an unlikely place I’ve masturbated in, you’re supposed to laugh. They genuinely thought they had to be quiet the entire time while one of them took it in turn to cough a bit.
I felt really bad for them. It was so uncomfortable being on that stage and watching an audience who clearly weren’t ready for a comedy club of this scale. I could tell they knew how bad they were too because some of them had their head in their hands the whole time I was on stage, a lot of them even tutted and sighed constantly at the frustration of just not being that good yet.
Of course, it’s early days for this audience and I’m sure they’ll improve after a good few more gigs under their belts. I think they even started to catch on themselves because, when I said that I was leaving, they cheered. Good for them, I thought, there’s hope yet.
The whole room felt terrible for not being a solid, reliable unit throughout my hilariously inventive and superb set during which I was brilliant. But they shouldn’t feel like that, all audiences have bad gigs. I was part of the audience during Sarah Silverman’s classic one and only performance in the UK and, due to us being a hack, obvious and unprepared crowd, I doubt we’ll see her here ever again. I felt bad for them. They were so embarrassed about dying that not one of them could face me during the interval to say how great I was and even the other comedians and the promoter couldn’t make eye contact with me. I didn’t want them to feel that way, I just wanted them to be the best audience they could be.
You know what? I think they picked up on my vibe because for the rest of the night they really improved. They laughed, applauded and looked like they were having a great time. Yes, I thought to myself, you’re finding your feet. You can do this. You’re going to make it. I’m glad the audience realised that, through my guidance, they could show these two-bit chancer comedians what a good night out is. Not that I want to be thanked and I appreciate that everyone understood this and didn’t thank me once.
I really loved my time in Sheffield. In a way, that was the perfect way to end a lovely weekend. Every single person I met in Sheffield was friendly, charming and warm and last night? I think I made them even better.
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