There is a problem in British comedy clubs and it seems to be getting worse.
If I go to a large venue and see a famous comedian – a household name – although that is something I seldom do – he or she is normally introduced by a disembodied voice off-stage saying:
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome (insert name of comedian)” and then (depending on the level of the comedian’s fame) loud applause of varying intensity starts.
In small comedy clubs where I and other audience members are often seeing comedians they have never heard of, there is an increasing habit for the compère’s introduction to go along the lines of:
“Now our next act. Let’s start with a little ripple. You sir, clap gently. Now let it spread round the room… give it up, make it louder… now everyone… all together… give it all you got… give him/her a big welcome, it’s (insert name of comedian).”
By this point, if the compère has successfully done what they think is their job, there will be riotous applause and no-one in the audience has any chance of actually hearing the comedian’s name.
Occasionally, a shrewd comic will end their act with: “Thankyou very much. I’ve been (insert name of comedian). You’ve been (insert genuine or sarcastic adjective).” But it is rare.
In a bill with six or eight comics, none of whom you know, you can’t even look at the bill and guess who you may have seen unless you trawl through Google and look up images of each of the names on the bill until you find the right face. Who is going to do that?
Far more effective an introduction would be to say: “Now our next act (insert name of comedian). Let’s start with a little ripple. You sir, clap gently. Now let it spread round the room… give it up, make it louder… now everyone… give it all you got… give him/her a big welcome…”
In an industry where ego, insecurity and desperation vie for top billing in performers’ psyches, it is extraordinary that, increasingly, the least clear words spoken in the entire evening are often the names of the performers.
It is a surefire way not to get famous.