For a few years I have been dabbling in stand up comedy and have performed a few bits and pieces in various staff and PTA shows. People have been kind enough to suggest I might have a bit of a knack for this kind of thing and so I thought I might step up to the plate and try to do a bit of stand up in the “real world”. So I managed to enlist myself as one of three warm up acts before three headline professional UK comedians who are touring the coast. This all took place last Saturday night in a nightclub in Benavista during their inaugural comedy night.

What a dumb idea that was!

I was second in the running order. First up was some young buck who seemed, to me at least, to have a pretty neanderthal take on humour. I don´t mean to take a potshot at this guy because, frankly, the audience liked him much more than they did me! His repertoire relied heavily on an assumption that the audience would find only allusions to sex to be remotely entertaining. Whatever it happened to be, whether he was buying vegetables in the supermarket, or visiting the dentist, there was some way he was going to connect any experience he had to some kind of reproductive behaviour in a member of the animal kingdom. He told us about the terrapins he saw in his local pet shop engaged in some kind of “orgy” and managed to squeeze in rhinos humping each other  (in the bit about his visit to the dentist!). The humping rhinos were even mimed to universal approval. To me this all sounded like the kind of thing that might have made me giggle when I was 11 but the audience, to my horror, lapped this stuff up.

And so then the lady with the microphone thanks him, everyone applauds, and the young buck sits down to plenty of back slapping from his mates and a bunch of free pints.

And then it was me…….

It didn´t take long for me to realise was that I was out of my depth. I had been hoping to rely on skilful storytelling, my native with and charm, and a quirky take on this and that. The audience was having none of it. They wanted humping rhinos and I didn´t have any ! To be fair, the folks were respectful enough. There was no hurling of rotten fruit but, on reflection, that was probably only because there was no rotting fruit to hand.

When I walked, or rather ran, off the stage at the end of my routine, I realised I had not been ready for an audience like that. The reception for my material was lukewarm at best. In fact, it was pretty cold. There was no getting away from it – I had flopped.

And so I experienced what every comic has had the misfortune to experience, a kind of public humiliation, before exiting the stage at the speed of light looking for a large rock to crawl under. I had the good fortune of having a few friends with me and, like the good friends that they are, they were pretty consoling. They were even kind enough to say that I did pretty well, but that certainly was not the impression I got.

So how do I feel about the whole experience? Actually, pretty good! I realise that I can choose to remain beneath the rock I crawled under and never resurface, or I can learn from it. But, while I must admit that the evening took the wind out of my sails, I realise that I got what I deserved. None of this is the audience´s fault. They were actually very nice people, many of them Dutch. The truth is that one audience will not necessarily respond like another and we were not on the same wavelength at all. Plainly, I lacked the versatility to adapt. 

Now that I have had a chance to think things over I can see how humour works, or at least one kind of humour. Human beings have probably been laughing a bodily functions more than anything else since we first developed a sense of humour back in the days when we were running around chasing mammoths. And even now a well conceived joke or meandering anecdote can never hope to deliver the level of hilarity that accompanies hearing a loud fart in church when everyone is supposed to be engaged in silent prayer. None of this may reflect particularly well on us but I think we are just wired that way.

So all in all I am not too discouraged. I´m not the worst writer around and nor am I the worst comic in the world. I just need to develop a bit more versatility and a little more courage. And so it is back to the drawing board for me.

I wonder what other humping animals are there that have not been joked about?

Obviously rhinos and terrapins have been taken……..


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ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!!!!