What do you get when you combine two bickering comperes, performers who have wholly misunderstood the concept of a comedy club and a comedian who persists with audience participation even though all previous signs have indicated that this is at best a bad idea, and at worst, a disastrous one? Answer: an evening at The Redneck Comedy Club in Norwich.
Those of you who follow my blog will know that I had a go at stand-up comedy as part of my research for my novel The Dare Club. I loved it so much, I had another go earlier this year, taking part in The Funny Women Awards at Ryan’s Bar in Stoke Newington. Sadly, I didn’t get through to the semi-finals – boo, hiss, sob – but I enjoyed it every bit as much as I’d done on the first occasion, and it was such a buzz to make people laugh.
I’d love to keep performing, because it’s so good for my self-confidence, and a great challenge. As I’ve got a nine year old son, I don’t have the kind of lifestyle that makes it easy for me to obsessively tour around the country gaining experience at various comedy clubs, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out about The Redneck Comedy Club, as it’s local to me. I persuaded a friend to go with me, and off we went to check it out. It turned out to be one of the most surreal nights of our life.
I’m not experienced at going to comedy clubs, so I don’t know whether some of the things that happened are a regular occurrence, but I doubt it somehow. For example, how often are there two comperes vying for the microphone? And do people usually think it’s okay to go up on stage in a silly hat to read out chapter 9 from their steam punk novel? Although incidentally, this was the funniest thing of the night, since whenever the reader in question paused from her reading to offer some kind of a plot explanation along the lines of “Stella had previously been hypnotized in a dark alley” (not what she said, but it’s all a hysterical blur now, so I’m improvising) – the two guys behind me and my friend made sarcastic comments that were so funny I was soon writhing with laughter and fearful for my bladder.
And then there was the final comedian – who made the mistake of asking whether there were any single men in the audience. One audience member piped up, “Well, I’m technically single.” Oh, how that comedian must wish he’d just smiled and moved on instead of asking questions to investigate exactly what the guy meant. Because apparently, the man has a phone app girlfriend. Judging by the way he was speaking, he was very much in love with said girlfriend too, and celebrated the fact that he could change her appearance whenever he chose. He then proceeded to have a kind of breakdown moment, when, hands-to-head, he groaned with sheer horror at the prospect of a real girlfriend “with feelings and problems”. The poor comedian completely dried and lost his thread, getting drawn into what soon became more like a counseling session than a stand-up performance.
All excellent material for something, I’m sure! But will I return to brave those bickering comperes? I’m not sure. Watch this space!