A funny thing happened at Mirth Control

It’s not only on TV that you’re battered by an avalanche of fear and testosterone-fuelled aggression. A night out with mates increasingly means running the gauntlet of bullies and nutters.

At a recent London Mirth Control gig, a burly thirty-something comic, who the MC assured us was “the next Ricky Gervais”, went into meltdown and threatened to fight my friend, a bespectacled grey-haired intellectual some 20 years his senior, because he hadn’t laughed the last time he was at the venue. In full-on tantrum mode from the moment he took the stage, and throughout the entire course of his “set”, the comic heckled us, demanded my friend be thrown out or he wouldn’t continue, then demanded that we both leave or he wouldn’t continue.

We stayed and he continued, breaking off every few moments like a diva whose dressing room has been painted the wrong shade of lavender, to shout at my friend whom he said he hated because he didn’t like his “attitude”.

Meanwhile, there were big rugby player types who the comic didn’t threaten to fight. But he did bravely simper and ask who their favourite rugby player was.

The comic declaimed that we should appreciate his tremendous success, playing, as he had, the Labour Party Conference in 2005, the troops in Iraq, and having been booked for a ship’s cruise a la Jim Davidson.

More shouting at my friend along the lines of, “I can’t perform with you in the room, it’s all about love and I’m not getting it from you. Leave. Leave now.”
“My (Irish) wife knows dodgy people and they’ll come and do you.” “C’mon, upstairs, I’m going to fight you.” Variations on this last one went on for ages as he tried to whip up a lynch mob to get us turfed out. Sycophantic titterers aside, the audience was having none of it, and several expressed their shock and empathy in the interval.

Is this normal?

I note that the comic’s Unique Selling Point is “the traumas of being a sensitive man in a macho world”.

Is this satire?

He ended by flouncing out, vowing never to play this Mirth Control again.

Should we break open the champagne in celebration?

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6 thoughts on “A funny thing happened at Mirth Control”

  1. Hi Faceless,

    Glad my blog kept you reading.

    The whole thing kicked off at the first show on the day when Blair left office after ten years. The Comic asked who hated Blair, I raised my hand and that's when it all started. If only I'd known he was a New Labour fave – I would have raised both hands.

  2. I just came across your blog and for the first time in ages I read more than just the first post… Reading this story about the comedian got me wondering who it was, so I checked it out and was surprised to say the least. the guy usually gets very good reviews, so to hear he was such a dick is strange. He couldn't fight his way into a jumble sale…

  3. Hi Anna, just found your blog, as the email ended up in my junkmail for some reason! Enjoying it though, look forward to reading more!

    Brody x

  4. Thanks, John.

    'Fraid your approach would have been too subtle. The point he was making was that, aside from being posh and Oxbridge, he was now so famous that he could do this with impunity.

    This is the state of the comedy circuit in the UK right now,

  5. You, Anna, should have snarled up at him, "You wanna fight me, brother?" If he says yes, you say, "Well, me brother couldn't make it tonight, ta-da-DUM!" while grinning at the audience, which probably would have been amused, which might even have applauded you. His saying yes, he does want to fight a woman, makes him look a perfect asshole, of course. If he says no, you press your advantage and taunt him for being all talk. Either way, he can't win. And yes, it's much easier to see these options not in the heat of the moment.

    Along these lines, you might want to see (on YouTube) a recent video in which that great political theorist Ted Nugent, on stage, invited Hilary Clinton to suck his machine gun.

    Looking forward to further installments of what promises to be a witty, elegant, and penetrating blog.

  6. Sounds like the kind of 'comic' who should have been strangled at Mirth. Always a drag to see comedy function as a platform for manifestations of the institutionalisation of bully culture: comedy should rage against the machine (in Hilaity Mode, of course) rather than simply grease it.

    Still, sounds like you had the last laugh. Which, as we all know, is always the best one. Looking forward to further instalments of what promises to be a witty, elegant and penetrating blog.


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