I am the ideal comedy audience because I have a shit memory.
I can watch a stand-up performance and love it and adore every gut-wrenchingly funny punchline and walk out at the end of the gig and ten minutes later… I cannot remember any of the jokes.
In that sense, I am the stand-up comic’s dream: that he/she could perform the same gags every day to the same Alzheimer’s audience and they wouldn’t realise it.
Alas for the poor comedian, audiences do remember if you have told them a gag, especially if you just told them that same gag ten minutes ago.
The last couple of days, I have blogged about stand-up comedians who have – either intentionally or unintentionally – repeated all of part of their routines within the same gig to increasingly bemused audiences.
“Yikes! I did that at the Edinburgh Fringe once, must have been festival fatigue. Finished a routine and began it agin, as if on a loop. I pretended it was deliberate but I don’t think anyone believed me.”
There is also a problem, of course, if comics don’t watch the comedians who precede them at a club gig. Mark Hurst says:
“I saw two comics very recently, back to back, who both did routines on knife crime and using a spoon instead. The audience suddenly went quiet on the second one, much to his confusion.”
“Ah the topical comic’s nightmare,” Brian Mulligan of Skint Video told me yesterday: “We once had a joke about Frank Bough caught sniffing coke to which the punchline was Next we’ll find out Lord Denning is a rent boy! And Felix, who was on before us, had done the same gag.”
In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned the occasion recalled by Ronnie Golden and Michael Redmond in which Lee Cornes intentionally re-told his jokes to confuse an audience at the Comedy Store in London. And Steve Bennett of the Chortle comedy website told me of an occasion which was the reverse of this:
“There’s a related story,” he told me yesterday, “that a comedian – I think it was Phill Jupitus – was once heckled by a voice from the front row which quietly told him: You’ve already said that… He hadn’t, but he had performed at four other gigs that night and couldn’t be sure what he’d done, so he was thrown completely.”
Comedians trying to confuse audiences… audience members trying to confuse comedians.
Pity the poor comedian.