Sometimes comedians have people walk out of their shows.
Comedian Lewis Schaffer’s shows tend to take matters to quirky excess and things happen which are scarcely credible.
As I arrived last night for his twice-weekly Free Until Famous show at the Source Below in Soho, he was still at the door greeting people on the way in when out came three French people who had decided to leave… He had not even started the show!
When I went into the venue, there were another three French people in there and, when Lewis Schaffer did start his comedy monologue, it was obvious only one of them could understand English.
They left during the interval but, before they left, yet another three French people arrived to see the show which, by now, was halfway through. As far as I could guess, none of the latest three bemused-looking French people understood any English and, after about 15 minutes, they left.
Even for Lewis Schaffer, it is a rare thing to have nine French people walking out of his show.
The language problem I can gloss over. But why they were all travelling in groups of three simply mystifies me.
After the show, Lewis Schaffer and I and two of his increasing entourage of helpers went with comedian Joel Sanders to eat at a falafel cafe in Old Compton Street.
I always find the best way to write daily blogs is to get other people to do the work, so I asked Lewis Schaffer to chat to Joel Sanders and get something for today’s blog while I ignored what they said and chatted to the Alex Mason/Heather Stevens section of Lewis Schaffer’s increasing entourage of helpers.
“You told me an amazing story on my weekly radio show…” said Lewis Schaffer to Joel Sanders, remembering the first golden rule when one comedian talks to another – Always publicise yourself.
“Your weekly radio show?” asked Joel Sanders.
“Nunhead American Radio,” replied Lewis Schaffer. “Every Monday on Resonance FM… What I wanna know is… What I… What I wanna know…” he continued, trying to think of something he might actually want to know about anyone else. “You’ve been around America a lot, Joel. Did you see the dark side of America?”
“It was like Deliverance,” Joel told him.
“Did you fear for your life?” asked Lewis Schaffer, becoming more enthusiastic. “Did they ask you to squeal like a pig?”
“They didn’t quite get to that stage,” Joel replied.
“Have you ever squealed like a pig?’ asked Lewis Schaffer even more enthusiastically.
“Not in the context of comedy,” shrugged Joel.
“So what happened in Johnson City, Tennessee?” asked Lewis Schaffer. “Where IS Johnson City, Tennessee?”
“In the mountains,” explained Joel, “about a mile from the North Carolina border.”
“Is it a coal mining area?” asked Lewis Schaffer.
“I don’t know what they do there,” said Joel, “except I do know they have a Dukes of Hazzard festival there once a year. You know, the South is beautiful. The mountains are beautiful, but that is also where the shit happens. The most beautiful parts of America are also the most dangerous parts.”
At this point, I interrupted: “I heard the words Beautiful and America,” I said. “That’s no use for my blog. Get on to something eccentric involving bestiality.”
“So what about the woman’s leg?” Lewis Schaffer asked Joel.
“Are we going to get a train?” asked Joel.
“No,” I said, “not until you tell me an interesting story about a woman’s leg. You’re my blog for tomorrow.”
“Don’t mention the squealing like a pig,” Lewis Schaffer told Joel.
“It was in Hot Springs, Arkansas,” Joel began. “It was in a venue which had once been a sex club and they had converted it to a comedy club, but it still had the poles for the pole dancing. This was in the year 2000. It was strange. There were two shows that night: an early show and a late show. What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I wasn’t listening to what you and Brian were talking about.”
“Who?” asked Joel.
“Lewis Schaffer,” I said.
“Is this funnier than the Johnson City, Tennessee story?” asked Lewis Schaffer.
“Yes,” said Joel. “So, that night in Hot Springs, Arkansas, there was an early show and a late show and, at the end of the early show, about four people left but all the rest stayed for the late show.”
“I had nine French people walk out tonight,” lamented Lewis Schaffer.
“I know,” said Joel.
“We were there,” I told Lewis Schaffer.
“The French don’t like me,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They hate me. The French hate me.”
“So,” said Joel, resuming his story, “almost all of the first audience stayed in the club and a few new people came along and we started the late show. It was basically the same audience watching the same comedians.”
“Why did they stay?” I asked.
“That was what they did there,” said Joel. “There was nothing else to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas… It was Bill Clinton’s boyhood home: the best barbecue I’ve ever had… Anyway, there was a woman sitting at the front of the audience. She’d been a bit of a pain in the early show. But, by the late show, she’s completely drunk – totally pissed – and, about ten minutes into my set, she took her leg off.”
“She took her leg off?” I asked.
“She just detached it,” explained Joel. “There was no cue for her to do this. No trigger words. She had been interrupting and I had been responding and she was just playing a game of one-upmanship. And she won, because she removed her leg and hurled it onto the stage as if to say: Well… deal with that!”
“And did you?” I asked.
“Well, I tried,” said Joel. “The first thing was I refused to give it back. She started screaming I need to go to the bathroom! and I told her to detach her vagina, give it to her husband and he could take it for her.”
“Surely she could have hopped to the toilet?” I asked.
“Well no,” explained Joel. “By this point, she had taken both her legs off and both legs were now on the stage. So I had this woman sitting at the front of the audience – just a body with arms… and I was standing on stage holding these legs.”
“I think that’s enough for the blog,” I said. “Leave them wanting more.”
In case you should think this story has been made up, the incident on stage in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was captured on video and is posted on YouTube: