Stewart Lee has a joke he has done variations of for a few years. He singles out areas of the audience as more savvy and some as not getting the joke. On his last tour, Carpet Remnant World, this developed to a bit where he suggested now he was on the telly his core audience were being joined by their friends (who didn’t really understand him).
His audiences have definitely been growing. He refers more than once tonight to a set several years ago where a Maltese man ruined the show. [Happily for me I saw the other performance of that tour and so didn’t see the ruined one.] That was at The Quays theatre. Tonight he is playing The Lyric, which is four times the size of The Quays – though, as I said, he did play two shows back then. Even allowing for all this mind numbingly dull details the suggestion would be that his audience has doubled.
Maybe his routine last time was more comment than hypothesis. I’d not noticed annoying people with no interest in anything other than hanging on Lee’s every word. Tonight I was aware of (what I call) pricks about me in the theatre.
It is a broad, sweeping statement to say that the people annoying me were the annoying clods who like panel comedy shows, catchphrase comedy and aren’t disturbed by the slow removal of any class from TV comedy. In fact it is more than broad and sweeping – it is pompous, idiotic and needlessly arrogant. I stand by it.
I dislike the practice of alcohol being consumed during something that requires people to pay attention. Not because most people can’t have a couple of beers/glasses of wine and enjoy something without ruining it for other people, but because some people cannot.
The two lads behind me were definitely more annoying after the interval and having another bottle of lager. In fact there was a short time when I felt guilty that I was getting annoyed by people with disabilities. Then I realised they weren’t people with severe physical disabilities – which left me still feeling a little guilty for even thinking about people with physical disabilities with anger, even though they were hypothetical constructs of my own incorrect assumptions [this is getting a bit Stewart Lee] ; I was, though, free to judge and be annoyed by the drunken boys behind me. [I am still convinced one of them was a bit Walt Junior but my partner insists it was all alcohol – which makes sense as they were only annoying after one first half bottle of Fosters and a further interval bottle].
Across the aisle from me, a few rows forward, about ten minutes into the second half of the show I could see a mans phone glowing. Even in the darkness with my poor vision I could tell that he was messaging someone on Facebook. I tried not to get too annoyed but it was in my peripheral vision. I also had a quick word with myself, assuring myself that it was doubtlessly a quick message that was part of some wider emergency involving a child or someone being locked out of a building.
But it went on and on. What is the cut off point between something being that important that you will ignore a performer that you’ve paid to see to write Facebook messages to someone and the something being that important that you just go and do something about it? I don’t know but because I’d looked in his direction I was able to see him drop an empty plastic bottle that had once contained lager. Another pisscan. Now I knew alcohol was involved the bit of my mind justifying his social networking joined the part of my mind that hated him and convinced all of my mind that he was drunk and messaging his ex-wife telling her they should give it another go [clearly she would be happy with a new partner anyway].
He left about thirty minutes before the end of the performance, having reached a point where the man at the front of room with the microphone was overshadowing him messaging someone on Facebook. The man he was with got up and left about ten minutes later – which I thought was a little while to wait before also leaving. Either leave with the person ruining your night or don’t leave early at all.
It also seemed to be one of those shows where people think they can shout out and ‘do a joke’. Fortunately Lee crushed that quite swiftly.
oh, Stewart Lee was very funny and I’d recommend watching him to anyone.