Shockingly surprising

I’m a bit of a sucker for surprises. So when I got my weekly email from the comedy club in Greenwich last week, announcing that the Sunday Special had a “top secret megastar” for top billing last Sunday, I couldn’t resist. They even went on to say “we can’t reveal who it is, but you won’t want to miss this”!

I absolutely love surprises. Not really surprises like when someone jumps out from behind a door to give you a fright and then laughs their head off because you’ve just jumped out of your skin. That would be a shock more than a surprise. Fun surprises are more my thing.

Like the time a few years ago when I had a few surprises rolled into one: firstly, I was given two tickets to a Women’s Day concert at one of Cape Town’s most popular theatres. I invited a friend to go along with me, and we enjoyed a few hours of the most unbelievable talent that I didn’t even know existed in Cape Town. Poets, rappers, rock bands, jazz singers, story tellers, soul singers and opera singers appeared on the stage and wowed us in the most amazing way. Audience members had no access to a programme; the show just unfolded, one beautiful surprise after another.

As the show neared its end, the compere came out on to the stage and thanked everyone for being there. She thanked the artists for performing, invited people to come and meet them after the show, and thanked everyone once again. As she was about to leave the stage, she said,
“Oh, and I have one more surprise for you. She’s in South Africa doing some work with a charity that she supports, and we managed to convince her to come along and entertain you tonight. She’s all the way from Manchester, England, where her group MPeople had massive success. Ladies – put your hands together for Heather Small!”

And on to the stage walked one of my favourite singers; a tiny, pint-sized dynamo, blasting forth “Moving on Up”. She sang “Search for the Hero” and “Proud” and many of her new hits, and I was literally beside myself. After an embarrassment of talent, the evening closed with this final, perfect surprise.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, or indeed if you know me, you will know that I digress. Easily. So back to the start of this post…

We went to the comedy club in Greenwich last Sunday night to enjoy not only the line-up of up-and-coming young comedians, but to wait – in delicious anticipation – to see who the headline act would be. We imagined Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Michael McIntyre …. just who would this megastar be?

There’s nothing quite like live comedy, and it makes for such a fun evening. The opening acts were a delight. They are always young, up-and-coming comedians cutting their teeth on a smallish, London audience. A young guy in a “jumper” opened the show with a really charming set of observational humour. He talked about everyday things like chairs and jumping castles, and how, when you get to that certain point in your relationship, one of you always has to pretend to be dead just to get a reaction.

Another young stand-up came on to the stage next, and, although he was nervous and didn’t seem too sure of himself, he kept us amused – even if it was just because we were waiting for him to be really funny. The third act was (and there always has to be one in any line-up) a manic singer/comedian. He was pretty funny, though – and his closing song about panda bears just being polar bears in bad relationships was bizarrely amusing – and he continued the work of warming the crowd up. (Some audience members were doing that perfectly well by themselves, as they devoured jug after massive jug of lager.)

The wait then began for the “top secret megastar”. Our 15 minute wait became half an hour, then 45 minutes (“traffic” was the excuse for the superstar’s tardiness) and then the MC returned to the stage to hold the crowd while we waited for Mr Man-of-the-Moment. He said it was an MC’s nightmare to hold the floor when the headline act’s eta is as yet unknown. He did well, though, and his time was made easier by – long story – downing three pints of lager on the trot, to the audience’s chanting. The moment then arrived that Mr Megastar was about to arrive and we were told to “put your hands together for Mr MEGASTAR”!

First up, we’d never heard of him. (Sorry, east London.) Secondly, he was a megastar? Thirdly, he was really not funny… he was trying out new material for a tour he’s embarking on later in the year, so he read from his notes, scribbled notes on the paper and seemed a tad distracted. It must have been the “traffic”.

He picked on audience members and insulted them. He said pretty tacky stuff to a bunch of young girls near the front, made a comment about the weight of a young guy near us and then he spotted my husband. He asked him his age, and when he heard my husband’s age to be a year on the far side of a half-century, he proceeded to made “old” jokes at my husband’s expense. They would have been funny if my husband had been 100, or even 75, but for a healthy, bright, professional, it was just plain rude.

He said, “Have you heard of BBC Three, sir? It’s a radio station for YOUNG people. It’s really good – but maybe you guys should have your own station called, I don’t know, BBC Seventy Three. Where they play all the stuff for young people, just loud. With reminders to pay your gas bills. I don’t know, would that appeal to you, sir?”

We thought he had written a set of jokes for an “old person” and saw my silver-haired husband and tried to make the old jokes fit.  However, he lost us as he waded his way through heavy-handed comedy and we bided our time until the show finished and we could wend our way back home to a safe, insult-free place.

You know I mentioned the difference between a surprise and a fright? Mr Megastar was more fright than surprise, and he wasn’t even funny. Not even for a minute. From now on we’ll be wary of surprise megastars – I’ll just have to hide behind the door when I see the word “surprise” – and focus on the new up-and-coming young comedians. At least you can be sure of a good laugh.

Sunshine signing off for today!


48 thoughts on “Shockingly surprising

  1. Jokes at the expense of old people are never funny … especially as I get older…
    How unfortunate Michael McIntyre wasn’t there! I think he is just the best!

  2. Among the reasons I’ve never been overly fond of comedy shows, the catch being my younger brother has been not only performing since he was in his teens but producing shows for well over a decade. Most of his are pretty good these days, albeit not profitable (so far). For six years I baked every other week for the shows, one set of chocolate cookies or cake and one of non-chocolate, something a few other groups tried to emulate, but never really seemed to persist. It was fun at first but eventually became an expensive chore, and I “retired.” I never went to all the shows (in the beginning they were quite late at night), but there are some performers I’ve come to enjoy, and some have had some success. While part of the idea of his shows is that folks can work on material — with the audience invited to stay after and offer feedback — if anyone were as unfunny and insulting as that person sounds, they would not be invited back! If you are ever going to be in New York, let me know and maybe you can catch one of his shows.

    1. What a dedicated sister you are, jevcat! Wow. I was expecting there to be an opportunity for feedback at the club we went to … not sure how this comedian would have measured the worth of his material.
      I’d LOVE to catch one of your brother’s shows – what fun!

  3. Oh, your poor husband! To bear the brunt of some megastar’s attempts at comedy couldn’t have been anything short of embarrassing. Thankfully, the first part of your evening was enjoyable; too bad it had to end on such a sour note.

    1. Thankfully my husband wasn’t embarrassed, Debbie – he didn’t take it personally (like I totally would have). Yes, the first part was great fun and made the evening worthwhile.

  4. Sounds like he sensed the audience wasn’t it and decided to get even. Do you remember his name? Something similar happened to us once. We got tickets to see a comedian from “Saturday Night Live” at a comedy club. He cancelled, so they booked another comic. We went, and she was horrible. The guy from SNL was pretty funny and really smart, and this woman wasn’t. She looked and talked like a biker, and if anyone tried to sneak out, she nailed them. I’ve Googled her name a few times, just to see whatever became of her, and I can’t find a trace of her. You know you’re a failure when Google goes, “Eh, who cares?”

    1. I do remember his name, Todd, to make sure we avoid him at all costs! Your experience sounds equally offensive … really, is it funny to be insulting like that? I love clever banter, and good comedians do that really well. I like the “eh, who cares?” mentality – you and I have assigned our respective comedians to that status as well, haven’t we?

  5. Ouch! That’s not funny at all. I dislike comedians who try to get a laugh at someone’s expense, especially with tired jokes. At least be creative about it. Sounds like you had every right to heckle him, not that you’d ever do that. 🙂

  6. You were polite enough to wait until he finished?! On the other hand, that was probably a good call – you never know what Mr Not-so-funny would’ve come up with had he seen you leave right after his insulting attempt at “humor”. And to think you actually had to wait for that megastar experience! So sad.

  7. aaah that just made me super sad…wish you would tell us his name so we NEVER see him in action….I hope he rises and fallls….
    you have a wonderful day and go look for more tigers in trees…..looks like summer has arrived for you guys!!!
    lots of luv

  8. ~~~You know,
    I’ve always despised the comics who get a laugh at another’s expense…the mean comics, the comics that talk about weight & personal issues. It really pisses me off. There is a line that should not be crossed.

  9. That’s awful. I hate the idea of anyone messing with the good-hearted Mr. Sunshine in such an uncreative and unfunny way. Too bad the megastar put a damper on what otherwise sounded like a fun evening.

    We had a similar experience once. A few months after I finished my graduate program, a group of my friends left campus and drove to Columbus to meet me for a night at a comedy club. My good-hearted, teddy-bearish friend Dean is a big guy, and since we were sitting at the table right in front of the stage, the comedian decided to make Dean his target. He had to deal with fat jokes all night. The comedian even called him “Mongo the Gorilla.” Dean played it off with charm, but I’ll never forget how quickly the comedian took a stupid joke too far.

    1. Thanks, Maura. You know, I was offended and my husband really wasn’t – he took it in stride and took it that he was just the butt of the guy’s “old jokes”. He’s a bigger person than I am!
      Your experience sounds just awful … your poor friend. I love a bit of banter, but not when it makes people feel stupid or “less than” in any way. It’s just lazy to be so offensive, don’t you think?

  10. How painful to sit through a not funny comedy act, especially while being picked on! A really good comedian knows how to be funny without insulting people or using bad language. (I’ve found that the older I get, the longer it takes me to recover from a frightful surprise!)

  11. Wow. You must be full of grace to sit through that type of “humor” at the expense of your dear husband. I am quite choosy, I think, about what makes me laugh, and cannot fake a laugh for the life of me. He would have received the stink eye, for sure. However, it did make for a great post report. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I wish you could have been there to give him the stink eye! Actually, he was quite disengaged from the audience as he read his notes and scribbled, so he might not even have noticed.

  12. Sounds like desperate attempts at humor by someone who is losing “megastar” status quickly. Also sounds like, “good riddance.”

    1. I don’t quite know where the megastar status comes from anyway! We were glad when he left the stage and, funnily enough, he didn’t get as rousing an applause as the others!

  13. There is nothing worse than a comedian who uses others as the butt of his jokes. I remember Phil being picked out once in the same way: it can spoil a lovely evening out. Hope this did not spoil the rest of the evening, Sunshine, and that the next comedy event you attend is everything this wasn’t.

    1. Thanks, Kate. No, it didn’t spoil the rest of the evening – we just know who not to see again, ever! My husband has been picked on before, but in a good and funny way, not like this. SO not funny.

      1. Actually you are right. Ironically I just am sending an email regarding this same “terrible taste in humor”…It actually makes me kind of upset. What is it about people thinking ripping on someone other than themselves for the sake of a good laugh is funny? HA. Sorry the smiley kind of masked the sarcasm…this humor masks the hate and disregarding/disrespect….simply uncalled for….

      2. I agree with you. It’s a kind of ugly humour, that – isn’t it? Thanks for clarifying your smiley – I wasn’t quite sure what you meant! 🙂

  14. Some people think that everyone thinks what they think is funny, is funny. I have heard such ugliness from people, and then they claim to be joking. As if that is a way out. My princess says a joke (like that) is a lie- hey mom? Hey mom?

  15. Sunshine–
    that mr. meganothing was a jerk!
    I don’t appreciate insulting comedy…

    but. a night out on the town with your hubby is always good, I would imagine.

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