Sometimes I really hate the Scots. There is a Scotsman and he is really drunk plus and/or possibly on coke. He has stopped using consonants and his heckles consists of merely vowels. Nobody can tell what he is on about. I could probably decode his noises if I wanted to, for I too am a Scottish. It is not really words just ambient Scottish sound. It is as though he occasionally wakes from his slumbers and chucks in something else before going back to sleep.
He is not really a major problem. More like a grumbling appendix. He rumbles away during the other acts but I am aware he could become a flash point.
When I take to the stage he very quickly pipes up when he finds that I am Scottish. I immediately tell him I wish to distance myself from him. That I want nothing to do with him. We have nothing in common. That we have no affinity whatsoever despite being born on the same piece of rock. I do it with wit and charm so it is a good icebreaker. I wish I can remember how I did it because it was really good. Funny but also setting out the ground rules, ingratiating myself with the rest of the audience, isolating the trouble maker and done with a light touch. I wish I could recreate that on stage again and also in real life where I could go about telling people who needed to be told to fuck off but in a charming fashion. Like a master politician or a socialite or something.
Anyway however I fluked it the audience are on my side. So I already have more leeway. Then I do the gay town routine and the whole gig is flowing. it is in the ideal spot where they trust you and the audience are so elastic you can stretch them all over the place and you can get the next laugh with such economy of delivery, just little nudges and you don’t really need to over sell or push the delivery. It is probably as good as it gets for this size of crowd. It is also unfortunately as good as it gets.
But I take a wrong decision about material. I do a routine about coming down from Scotland to London and having a chip of my shoulder. And although the routine is about me and I am the joke in it all, the Scotsman gets riled up by it and starts causing problems. He thinks its about him. And it really IS about him. He thinks I am having a go at him. And I really AM having a go at him. Why choose that routine? My subconscious has decided to take him to task that is why. Fair play to my subconscious and fair play to him - the headcase - amidst all the alcohol and cocaine and regret and hatred in his addled mind - he is the only one in the room, including me, that has cut through the sub text and can see that I really am saying ‘Fuck You’ to him. His over sensitivity to social slights are working perfectly.
So anyway he reacts to it and not in a good way. He thinks some gauntlet has been thrown down. And it has by the way. He starts becoming a problem. I find myself later thinking I shouldn’t have chosen that routine. But armed with fore knowledge would I really have acted any differently? I doubt it. I would probably have delighted in ramming the whole thing down his throat anyway. Who knows? He may have exploded on something else? Maybe nothing is ever my fault? That is also a possibility.
There are more exchanges with him. I always get the better of him. That is not a boast by the way. It is my job and also he is really out of it and I am not. I should be getting the better of him. But every interruption damages the rhythm and exposes the artificiality of material. He is too far gone to know that I have beaten him anyway so he will always be back for more. Like the time the Zulus beat the British in some battle even although the Zulus didn’t have guns and The British did have guns and all because the Zulus were on hallucigenics and that stopped them from stopping when they got shot. Like that.
There are other miscalculations. For example I am looking at the wrong person. I think the heckler is somebody else and I am directing my barb comments at the wrong person entirely. That in itself becomes “a bit”. By “a bit” I mean an improvised comedy routine around an occurrence during that gig. A happening or an event if you will. In the parlance “a bit” is a good funny bit.
Anyway it is not the gig I would have envisaged but it is all cooking anyway. But suddenly he stands up and this changes the whole dynamic. And it is quite a small audience so the tension at potential conflict is always going to be quite large. I am sure he wants the toilet and not to hit me in the face but he looks so dazed. He is not sure where the toilet is or where backwards or forwards is. He rocks back and forth on his heel trying to focus, a thousand yard stare. I think the audience think his is limbering up for a right hook. But they don’t understand Scottish psycho body language. He is merely marshalling his resources for a toilet visit. All this is largely post gig conjecture of course. At the time I don’t really know what is going on. At the time I don’t initially realise he is standing at all. All I know is that the heckle put downs are no longer working and that they are no longer laughing at me and there is tension in the air. I think it is my fault. Have I gone too aggressive? Has my tone changed? I try to correct my tone but to no avail. And it could have been my fault maybe it wasn’t because he stood up. Who knows?
Anyway he goes to the toilet and the tension abates and I do the rest of the gig and it is good but it is bad because it could have been so much better judged by the start of the gig standards. They were in that elastic state where I could have taken them anywhere and know they will only go some places. So the end is good but it is not good.