Heckler Hell

Tom Ballard, Boy and Bear

When thirty-something Kelly came up and asked if she could have the spare seats at our table, my mate and I looked at each and agreed quickly she could. When she asked if she and her friend could join us, or should they take them away, we looked at each other, hesitated briefly, and then agreed that would be fine. I mean, what could go wrong? Seconds later, we met her friend Belinda who, without being indiscreet, and without being politically incorrect, one would best describe as a rather trashy looking tranny.

Being the good guys we are, we thought nothing of it, until Kelly said Belinda something along the lines of “I told you they would, I won the bet”. And I also though nothing of it, until it was clear that Belinda and Kelly were either quite pissed or had just taken a pill or two. It was then I concluded Belinda spent most of her time living as a bloke, and only occasionally enjoyed a dress up night. A night when she and Kelly went out for a bit of fun, and somehow we had ended up part of their “big night out”. This also became evident to me, as they began to become the “hecklers from hell”. Not funny. Not interactive. Just #$^&**wits who thought they were as interesting or as amusing as those on the stage. Wrong!

For a while, we put up with it. But then half way through the first, beautiful song by Elana Stone, when they continued to speak, I reached over to my mate and whispered in his ear, “I’m going to say something”. During the applause I looked to Kelly, and with a Julie Bishop death stare, asked her and Belinda to please shut up. Kelly looked at me as if to say, “oh man, you’re pretty scarey”. For a moment or two they were quiet until, once again, I asked them to “shut the #$%$^ up”. At this point, others around us, also asked them to shut up.

A little bit later, Belinda and Kelly went off to the toilet together. In our area of the audience, there was a quick, universal agreement that we should remove the chairs so they couldn’t return. Seconds later, a guy and a girl came up and asked if they could join us, thus preventing Kelly and Belinda from making a return. Hallelujah! For a few moments, we sat nervously, wondering if Kelly and Belinda were about to return with baseball bats. They didn’t. And although they tried briefly to heckle the show later, they disappeared at some point into the night.

There were other hecklers during the show, by the way. And as they heckled, I had to wonder why you would come to a comedy show thinking your half-pissed, lame-arse heckles were somehow more interesting or amusing than the acts you and others had money paid to see. If you’re gonna heckle, I reckon you need to be funny, not just drunk.

I’ve sometimes been on the receiving end of audience participation. There’s a comedian/performer who I saw a long time ago, and who I’ve since come to know, who I told once he had picked on me three times in a row in shows in the 90s. “You must have been wearing something white”, he told me, adding that you often can’t see the audience, so if you’re going to talk to someone, they need to stand out.

I’m not one for standing out in audiences. There was a moment when Tom asked if anyone had been to Darwin’s gay bar “Throb”? I was possibly the only other person in the room, but kept quiet. And then I wondered what had happened to Darwin’s OTHER gay bar, the Mississippi Queen. I visited them both in 2002.

For my part, I’d won tickets for the show by sending an email with two of my favourite all time jokes. As we entered the venue, the bloke behind the counter asked me what the jokes were. I deferred from telling them to him saying they were far too filthy. In actual fact, they weren’t, they were just old jokes, identifiably from the 1980s.

In contrast, the show was made up lots of Gen Y comedians who were born after these jokes were invented. Tom Ballard from Triple J was the host joined (in order) by musical guest Elana Stone (gorgeous beautiful singer), Eric Hutton (funny guy with an intense style), Michael Hing (still looking for the punchline, though he’s obviously starting out and I wish him best for the future) and Matt Okine (very funny, loved him).

After interval, we were entertained by Rhys Nicholson (funny, but with many of the same jokes as last time we saw him), Amelia Jane Hunter (easily the funniest of the night with her outrageous stories of drunkeness and generaly lushness), Dave Jory (not that funny IMHO) and Daniel Townes (very bloody funny).

Later, my mate and I enjoyed a drink or two and some amazing tunes from Frankie Shinn at the Midnight Shift, a night which he later described as an A1 evening, and which he has written about here.

Who would have thought Thursday night at the Midnight Shift would be such a blast? James & I had an absolutely terrific time there last night, arriving at about 11am and not leaving until 2am or whenever they stopped serving

I thought I’d landed back in Oxford Street in the 80s. When Gay venues were Gay venues and Gay people went to Gay venues to drink and pick up! Now everyone seems to prowl Manhunt and Gaydar and then meet for coffee. Erghhh!

But last night at the Shift, it was a classic Gay venue vibe. A mixed crowd of slightly/incredibly intoxicated people, many obviously there to find “Mr. Tonight” (not Mr. Right) and the absolute best music by DJ Frankie Shin.

It was late night for a school night, but great fun nonetheless despite Kelly and Belinda.

  1. Thank god there are still nights like Thursday night at the Shift to enjoy! Otherwise life might be very dull.

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  2. […] Ballard & Acquaintances” at the Oxford Art Factory last night. He wrote a story about it here. It was a bit of smorgasbord of young-ish comedians who, apparently, are friends of Tom Ballard. […]

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