It’s Comedy Festival time. This used to keep me very busy, out reviewing every night, sometimes two – even three – shows a night, several each week across one of the middle months of the year. Winter beckoning and it was good to be busy even if the laughs were thin.
I stopped reviewing comedy – or was stopped in fact. When several local comedians complained. And often. They couldn’t take it. They didn’t want someone else’s opinion of their shows, they wanted their own. Or a paying punter that loved it. Not some nasty cynic. They weren’t able to take that on the chin. They’d point out after that anyone else had liked it and they’d sold tickets to almost every show and that maybe even my review had helped them sell some of those tickets. But I wasn’t allowed to review them. Their wee club banded together and took things – as comics do – very, very seriously.
So, it’s Comedy Festival time and I’m reminded of the time I reviewed Greg Proops.
Geez he was awful. People know Greg Proops from the forever-in-reruns improv-show Whose Line Is It Anyway? As Proops himself said on stage that night, a couple of years work and still being paid. Nice if you can get it. He’s not untalented obviously. But as a comedian he was strange – insincere, baffling. Very, very angry. He seemed bitter to even be playing New Zealand. He got a lot of laughs for a while. Then not as many. Then he just abandoned bits halfway through, flubbing punchlines, leaving them out, moving on. At one point there had not been any laughs for several minutes and some self-appointed audience spokesperson decided to point that out. And boy did he cop it.
A couple of other hecklers were dealt to too. I like seeing hecklers nailed. I wish we didn’t have them. And a great comedian can deal with them swiftly. But Proops turned so ugly that night. His racist, sexist, unfunny lines were all he had going for him. When he turned on the members of the audience that had decided to give him a quick challenge he really got ugly.
I couldn’t believe he bothered. It was sad. But fascinating. And easily the best part of his show.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.