I had tea with a comedy writer yesterday who told me about a charity comedy gig he once attended in which a famous stand-up comic (whom he named) performed.
The famous stand-up comic was – unusually – slightly the worse for wear on the complimentary drink and went on stage to perform his 20-minute spot. The first half went well but then – and remember he was a bit drunk – he started repeating exactly the same ten-minute routine he had already just performed, word-for-word.
The audience was slightly bemused, then started to laugh because they presumed this must be intentional and they were watching some sort of highly original post-modernist surreal and slightly experimental comedy routine. Then, as the same sentences and the same jokes continued, they became confused and silent. And finally, still confused, there started to be erratic laughter and giggles in the audience because the whole silliness of the situation got to them.
The comedian came off stage, still not realising what he had done, confused at the reaction to his well-tried and well-tested comedy material, and said:
“That was a strange old audience.”
Because it was a charity gig and he was performing for free, nobody told him what had happened.
The audience presumably went home thoroughly confused, not knowing what they had seen, presuming it was some cutting-edge comedy which had not fully worked but presumably not able to believe in their wildest dreams that it was simply a drunken mistake.