Before I left the office, one of the comedians for the gig called to say that she had a family crisis and wouldn't be able to attend. I had to mobilise the troops and try to find a replacement. I asked a lot of people and everyone was busy. As I arrived at the café where I was going to hide and work, I spotted a well known comedian sitting working too. I was tempted to offer him the gig. In the end, I thought he'd prefer to be left alone, so I got someone I know to text him to offer him the gig. Tee hee. It didn't work. "Tee hee" is the sort of thing he'd say.
Anyway, I found my comedian, I found the rest of the cast too and we hurried out of our location towards the motionless traffic jam which added 90 minutes to our journey to Taunton.
Arriving in Taunton, a little late, we found a vastly reduced audience and not the expected amount of levity or goodwill in the room. Still, we put on a good show for them... until the headliner went on. He rather indulgently followed every whim and played with the audience, often without laughs for a bit until he whipped something out of thin air and got back on track.
Towards the end, a man heckled "get on with it". This is a heckle which you can't really get back from, since the heckler isn't suddenly going to go all happy and enjoying it, and it's a sign that there's unrest and boredom in the ranks. The next heckle was "sorry, we have to go, babysitter" and a few people left. The headliner wrapped up and left to a mixture of applause from some and disdain from others.
This poor guy, was left to wonder whether he should have a bruised ego from the ambivalence of the small audience, or a bloated one from the people who came up to him and told him they'd only attended because they knew he was on and had had a great time. I don't wonder how he coped. He was me. I was him. It was a weird gig.
Speaking about it in the third person didn't help just there. Made me sound a bit Jimmy Saville. "Ooh, Sir Jim 'as broken 'is leg."
You win some you lose some, but here's a tip. If you are going to go on stage with the attitude of "Ah well, it's a tiny gig in the middle of nowhere in Taunton, they'll soon forget about me" then check your diary. Guess where I'm going back to in 10 days for a different but similar gig in the same building...
Given the distances involved and the honourable decision to drop everyone home... and mainly because of the M4 diversion from West London, I didn't get home until the birds were singing something like "You're going back to Taunton". This is not helpful for starting a week.