Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is that a joke?

On Tuesday night I was in the audience at Comedy Masala, where the crowd is always drunk, the quality is always variable and the beer is absolutely horrible. Well, the free stuff is the kind of no-name booze that doesn't get you drunk, it just gives you an instant hangover and an urge to fight somebody or step in front of a taxi.

I stood at the back because I didn't want to stand out, and my wife tells me that my face is too expressive. Or rather, if I hear material I don't like, I don't stay pokerfaced, but glower at the performer who's delivered it like I want to go and stamp on his grandma's pet cat.

Apparently. I thought I just had my usual look of rapt attention, but it turns out that my face of rage is installed even when I'm not using it.

Anyway, some of the acts were good, some were mediocre, some were teeth-grindingly painful. Some forgot you're meant to say something funny while you're on stage, some didn't seem to have realised there was a paying audience, and some were funny. Everyone will hve a different idea of who was who. That's what I love about life.

Hang on, that's what I hate about life and inspires me to run up to complete strangers and yell "you're wrong! YOU. ARE. WRONG" in their stupid, ignorant little faces.

Behind me was a man who lacked either my face of doom and thunder, or the courage to heckle properly. For an hour, I heard him repeatedly mutter "is that meant to be funny?" in a whiny voice, possibly to the people around him. I say possibly, because he sounded like he wanted an audience, but I'm not sure who'd want to listen to Curious George all night, continually asking "is that a joke? Is that a joke? Is that a joke?"

Hecklers are one thing. You have to deal with them, but at least they're there to deal with. There's some entertainment value, whether it's because they're funnier than the person on stage, or they just think they are. Somebody not brave enough to heckle, who thinks he can be cock of the walk by standing at the back and being snide, but not loudly enough for most people to notice, is just a fly in the ointment, a little vortex of gloom in everyone's lives.

Let's try to be charitable. Maybe he really was curious. Maybe he'd never seen stand up comedy before, and wasn't sure when the punchline was going to arrive. When I was enduring a man on stage yelling at a woman for three minutes and forgetting to actually have any wit or charm, I also found myself asking "is that a joke? Is that a joke?"

On second thoughts, being charitable is something charities are for. I'm happy to say that if you don't like something, you should say so. Audibly. Not hiding behind the audience, assuming that evincing some grumpy scepticism of comedy is going to impress the simpering carrier of two X-chromosomes you dragged out to the club.

Ok. Does my face look less ragey now?


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