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I know it’s cliche to say, but bachelorette parties are almost always the worst shows to do. Bachelorette parties and comedy shows go together like peanut butter and screaming drunks with dildo antennas on their head. There’s this misconception that a bachelorette night out at a comedy club, is this back and forth war of jabs with the comedian, that their night cancels out everyone else’s night and that the show should revolve around them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of bachelorette parties that were fun, they didn’t disrupt the show, and we had a great time. But an overwhelming amount of the worst gigs at comedy clubs involve a bachelorette party throwing a tantrum because the comedian wouldn’t let them talk the entire show. This was one of those nights. Punch lines were being drowned out by twenty girls yelling “Three, Two, One!”, clinking pint glasses, then loudly taking bomb shots. The murmurs of them talking to each other about stuff on their phone eventually grew into full volume conversations.
After a few years on the road you accumulate a few tricks up your sleeve to quiet down anyone holding an inflatable penis. I try to engage with them, joke about the upcoming wedding, all that pandering comedy adhesive you apply to keep the show from falling apart. We’d connect, they’d be on board, till I talked about anything not involving them, then they went back to partying. I can’t just keep dwelling on them so I push forward. It’s really not even my job to wrangle them in, the good comedy clubs generally police the audience themselves to curtail any incidents. This is a story of what unfolds when a comedy club is too indifferent or scared to do anything about it. The people sitting in front of the girls were obviously annoyed, they kept looking back at the bachelorette table, even shushing them at one point. I’m trying to quell the situation as amiably as possible. I’ve seen too many comics try to humorlessly berate audience members into paying attention which never solves the problem. It’s like trying to heal a wound with salted poison.
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Somewhere between doing damage control and giving the rest of the audience the act they paid to see, I hear this shriek. I just assumed one of the bachelorettes had either drunkenly spilled their drink in their lap or accidently looked at the emptiness in their soul. I ignored it and kept going, then I heard it again. I make some joke asking who brought their toddler, “There a toddler in here? Hey! Where my toddlers at?!” I move on and then it happens a third time. I catch who it is and realize that the bride-to-be has decided to periodically scream for no reason. It wasn’t a scream erupting from any conversation, like in response to something her friend said, and it wasn’t part of her laugh. It was a face forward, blatant, super loud, show derailing scream. To be fair it wasn’t a long scream, it was the type of scream you do when try to scare the hiccups out of somebody, or when you show the world what a terrible person you are.
There’s this sense that a bachelor or bachelorette party needs to be “THE CRAZIEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE!”, that every moment of the night is so CRAZY! But most people don’t have any real direction in which they are to be crazy. They get “crazy” confused with “being an ass-hole”.
There was this high pitched shrill tone she would do a the end of it that made my ears ring. Every other minute she would do it. She would sit with her back to me and just keep talking to her friends, then in the middle of whatever I was talking about, she would turn around, look at me, scream as loud as she can, then turn back to talking. I tried to make jokes about it the first two times she did it. I ignored it the next two times. The fifth time I just stopped and bluntly asked her why she keeps doing that. “This is how I have a good time!”, is what she says.
I say, “You can’t do that.”
Her friend chimes in, “If her yelling is how she has a good time, then why can’t she just have a good time?”
My mind hurts hearing this. For some unearthly reason I try to explain that their good time can’t impede on someone else’s good time. Our back and forth causes half the audience to start yelling at the bachelorettes to be quiet. But the other half of the room, the half farthest away from the obnoxious table, wasn’t bothered by them as much, so they decide to start yelling at me.
“They’re loud? YOU’RE the one who is LOUD!”, someone yelled at me, the only guy who is suppose to be talking, and is doing so into a microphone connected to speakers to make my voice loud. It’s a heckle that still confuses me to this day.
“Maybe they would be quiet if you were FUNNY!”
“Yeah, you keep stopping halfway through your jokes!”
I say, “I can’t believe I have to explain this, but the jokes I stopped telling I did so because someone kept screaming in the middle of them. I would love to finish all the jokes tonight, but a joke is not going to be funny if she keeps interrupting me while I tell the bit. It just doesn’t work like that. I can’t keep talking while someone just keeps screaming as loud as they can.”
“Just deal with it Buttercup!”, yelled some brassy soccer mom.
As much as you can’t berate an audience into paying attention, nothing will cause a comedian to lose his affinity for entertaining strangers than calling him things like “buttercup”, a term generally used when you’re talking to a horse.
It was coming at me from all sides; people yelling at me, mixed in with people yelling at the bachelorettes, mixed in with the commotion of the bachelorettes who were now out of their chairs with their camera phones, huddled around one end of the table having a full on Sears portrait session.
The screaming, heckling, camera flashes and “buttercup” were starting to get under my skin. I channel my anger into screaming as loud as I can, “HEYYYYY!!!!! EVERYBODY! SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP!!!!!”
It’s so loud that everybody shuts up. The bachelorettes were even so rattled by it that they stopped taking pictures of each other and sat back down. I go, “Okay, everyone, I’m so glad you came out tonight, I know this show is going off the rails, but I’m not giving up. Do you guys want to give up on it?”
Everyone yells, “NO!!!”
I say, ”Alright, then let’s do this, lets have a great fucking show, are you guys into it?”
Everyone yells, “YEAH!!!”
It’s now twenty minutes into the show and it has not been a fun one. I decide I have to completely bring it right now at this moment if this show is going to work, so I do my funniest joke, my closing bit, at twenty minutes into the show. They start to settle down so I do another closer right after that. The show was turning around, the talking had ceased. I had about three “closers” at the time. I had never burned all three halfway through a show before, but the closers were going to be worthless anyway if I just bombed for another twenty minutes. So for insurance, I do my third “closing bit”. It worked, they finally shut up. They’ve finally started to pay attention. And then…
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Right when I finally got momentum she screamed again. I ignored it and kept going. She screamed again. Someone then yelled at her to shut up, then someone yelled at that person for yelling at her to shut up. Then someone else yelled at that person. Then she screamed again, everyone started yelling, and I just stopped. I got quiet. I sat down. I just watched everyone. I just sat in silence for a good minute. I waited till everyone in the room stopped yelling. I said, “Guys, I’m going to be straight with you. I am completely at a loss at what to do. The screaming and everybody yelling at each other, this show is just not going to work if you can’t hear what I’m saying. Since comedy isn’t working, let’s go the opposite direction, let’s see how serious we can make it in here. How do you guys feel about gun control?”
I had tried everything else, the only thing I hadn’t tried was giving my completely serious and unwanted opinion on gun control. It was a smaller rural town, and they had some pretty strong opinions on the subject. I got into a real gun control debate with some guy in a camouflage hat about the NRA, background checks and
the 2nd Amendment. No jokes, nothing funny, just a straight forward, back and forth on the issue of gun control. I asked another guy what he thought, then asked some other woman her take. I told the crowd which points they made that I agreed with, but mostly I talked about the points of their’s I disagreed with. There were no laughs, but it was the first time the whole show everyone was paying attention. Even the bachelorettes quieted down, I think mostly because they were confused about what was going on. I lambasted one guy who said he was for the Patriot Act, but thought background checks were a violation of privacy. As I tried to explain to the audience the hypocrisy of that notion, somehow, slowly, it began to turn funny. My next conversation with an audience member became a bit lighter. They said something that reminded me of a story about a hot sauce shop in Louisiana. The shop sold both Mitt Romney hot sauce, and Barrack Obama hot sauce. My buddy innocently asked this pleasant lady behind the counter which hot sauce sold better during the election. This caused the woman behind the counter to drop her sunny disposition and go into a tirade about how much she HATES Obama Hot Sauce, and how she thinks Obama Hot sauce is ruining our country, and that Obama Hot sauce wants to take away our guns, and our grenades, and our knives too if Obama Hot Sauce had it’s way. It was a story I’d never told on stage before, the crowd was loving it and I was having fun telling it. The show had miraculously been resuscitated, we were back on track, and then…
The bachelorette had screamed again. The entire audience just groaned. I instantly snap, I mean I fucking lose it, “Why? Why the fuck do you keep doing that? What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re just not going to let this show happen are you? The club is too scared to kick you out because they need the money. They’re
afraid you’ll never come back and they’ll lose business. What this club doesn’t understand, is that they’re losing more money keeping you here than kicking you out. If they had kicked you out, then everyone here would’ve had a great time, and a lot of people who had never been here before would have come back. But now since
they kept you here, NO ONE here is coming back. This show SUCKS! I know this is your night, but this is everyone else’s night too. People have gotten baby sitters, spent money they don’t have, and are out for the first time in weeks just to escape all the stress and shittiness in the daily grind. You don’t get to ruin everyone
else’s night because you think you’re more important. Why can’t you just sit back and be cool?
Then as loud as she could, she screamed this high pitched scream that made everyone around her wince. I said, “That’s it, this club will probably never ask me back, and I don’t think I ever want to come back. So I have nothing to lose. You fucked up. I was nice, I tried to joke my way out of it, bring you guys in, just have fun, I put up with it WAY too long, and you just keep being an ass- hole. So now, I’m about to completely RUIN your bachelorette night. This was suppose to be one of the best nights of your life? Yeah, well it’s about to be over. I haven’t said ONE mean thing to you the whole night, but now, I’m about to be so mean, it’ll be borderline evil. This guy you’re marrying? Are you madly in love with him? Or are you pushing 40 and you’ve just decided this is about as good as it’s going to get?
Her face turned white.
“OH! Did I touch a bit of a nerve there? I told you, you fucked up. Man I feel so sorry for the dude that had to settle for YOU! I feel so bad for him. I only have to deal with you for one night, he’s gotta put up your shit for the rest of his life. I tried to be nice. For almost forty minutes, I just asked you to be cool. But you just kept screaming for no reason like your ugly kids are going scream for no reason while your husband is away again and your just alone drinking in a closet wondering if you married the wrong man.”
She just sat there, mouth agape, completely stunned. It was painfully obvious she had some doubts about the wedding. I had found her Achilles heels, right in the back of a pair of cold feet.
“You’re night is over. You won’t be able to have fun after this. I’m about to tear into every little insecurity you have about yourself you so bad, that every bar you go to the rest of the night will just be you crying in a corner telling all your brat-chelorette friends that you just want to go home.”
I looked at the bachelorette and she and one of her bridesmaids were siting there holding each other, looking completely terrified. I looked back at the audience; half of the crowd was like an angry mob, blood thirsty for her demise. The other half was unapproving, but still wanted to watch. There was a dead silence for a moment, everyone in the room bracing for the impending carnage.
“Yeah! Take her DOWN!”, some guy yelled.
I didn’t know what ripping her apart would serve. It wasn’t going to change her or “teach her a lesson”. She’d still go on to be a terrible person regardless. I felt the only thing it would accomplish is perpetuate this misconception that comedy clubs are a place where go and yell stuff and then the comedian makes fun of
you. That it’s this war of jabs between you and the comedian.
I say, “You know what… I’m not going to do it.”
“Ah, Come on!”, someone yelled.
I say to the bride-to-be, “Look, you came here to have a good time, and for whatever reason I wasn’t what you had hoped for. I’m sorry, I wish you the best in your marriage and your life, and I think everyone here would agree so right? RIGHT EVERYONE?”
Everyone in the audience reluctantly responded with applause. I then appealed to the other hecklers in the room and tried to make amends with them as well. As I did, the bachelorette party responded to my olive branch by getting up and leaving. After the last of the party exited, the entire audience started applauding.
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I ask the audience, “So, you’re glad they’re gone?”
The entire audience erupted in more cheers.
“But, if you’re so glad they’re gone, how come half of you turned on me when I tried to get them to shut up?”
Suddenly this sweet old lady, who appeared to be there with her grandson and his date, politely raised her hand. She was the sweetest old lady you could picture, I’m pretty sure she just gave hugs and baked pies all day. Their table was right up on the stage, adjacent to the bachelorette party. After all the disruptions, seeing this lady politely raise her hand was priceless. I laugh and say, “Thank you for raising your hand, did you want to say something?”
She says, “Is that okay?”
I laugh, “Of course.”
She says, “I just wanted to thank you for telling them to be quiet, that screaming was hurting my ears.”
I said, “Did you hear that everyone? This sweet woman right here just THANKED me for telling them to be quiet, because the screaming was hurting her ears.”
One of the bachelorette girls who had apparently returned to her table for her purse then says, “Well no shit it hurt her ears, that bitch is like a hundred anyway!”
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The hate that the crowd had towards that girl in that moment was palpable. She had solidified what horrible people they were, by verbally assaulting this sweet innocent grandma. On top of that, the insult didn’t even make sense. I was about to point out that people actually have a more difficult time hearing as they get older, they don’t get more sensitive to loud noises as her failed insult would suggest. But I didn’t get a chance. The grandson immediately got up and threw his drink at the girl who called his grandma a bitch. The girl then starts grabbing drinks off her table and throwing them back at the grandson and the sweet old woman. The club staff FINALLY comes over for the first time the whole show, and escorts the old woman and her grandson out of the club.
A few days after the show I got a message from one of the ladies sitting at the “buttercup” table:
Hello Nick, we were at your comedy show last Saturday, (we were the 3 not 4 women from Canada!). We went out for a night of fun and did have a good time until the wedding party group got into it with the older lady and her grandson. The alcohol fight was unexpected. We are sorry if you mistook our yelling at you as heckling. Hope you’re not mad at us, we Canadians are actually nice people. Although we do wish you hadn’t kept stopping during your jokes.
I’ve been banging my head my keyboard ever since.
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