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This is a question Bad gigs

Been to see some talentless gits on stage recently? Had your enjoyment spoiled by a twat with an iPad filming the whole thing? Been bottled off? Tell us all

(, Thu 25 Jul 2013, 14:00)
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Bad comedy gigs
I go to comedy gigs a lot more often than I go to music so they'll have to do.

20 years ago, I lived in Acton, round the corner from the Kings Arms pub in the High Street. At the time, they used to run a comedy club upstairs every Friday night - the Acton Banana - and I think in two years of living there I missed perhaps four or five gigs. It was great - you'd see all kinds of comics that now only get out of bed to do BBC2 panel shows - Phill Jupitus, for instance.

There was this one guy called "Ian Cognito" (I'm guessing that's just a stage name). He'd pop up once every four or five months, and every time, he start off quite funny, then start to get a few drunken heckles.

The first time I saw this, Cognito just started calling them a cunt a lot. His put-downs were basically variants of "shut up, you cunt". And, since the heckler was so obviously rubbing him up te wrong way, and the gig was slipping out of his grasp, he got more an more frustrated and start whining about people not appreciating his art. The heckling continued for a minute or two; I think one or two other people even joined in. And then, halfway into his set, Ian Cognito flounced.

The MC had to come back on, early, and pad out the evening with more of their own material, before the headliner (usually a Jupitus or Thomas or someone of that ilk) came on.

The next time I saw him, it was after several months, so - having seen 30 or so other stand-ups in the meantime - I'd forgotten the last gig. Until someone heckled Mr Cognito, he spent a minute calling them a cunt, the audience began to laugh at him for so obviously and easily losing his cool, he began wailing that he wasn't appreciated, and he'd get so flustered that he flounced halfway through his set and the MC... etc.

The third time, as well as wondering why the bookers had taken him on again after two disastrous gigs, and how on earth his agent had managed to find good reviews in Time Out and the Evening Standard to put on his publicity, I went in again more to see if he'd have another meltdown. And he did. And again the next two times I saw him.

Fast forward about 15 years. I'm now living in Swindon, and the boom in standup comedy in the noughties meant that three or four pubs in town had begun doing monthly comedy club nights. Clearly, the boom also meant that pretty much the whole London club circuit was being bussed out to the sticks to supplement their tour calendars; a familiar name appeared on the promo posters for the night I was going. Hmm. Ian Cognito. I'm sure I remember him for something. Maybe he was just really funny?

Nope. After a supporting bill of three or four West-of-England comics, all of whom were perfectly serviceable, was the top-of-the-bill, direct from That London, please give it up for Mister. Ian. COGNITO...

Yay. Applause. A drunk woman heckled him from two rows in front of me. He called her a cunt a few times, abandoning some well-crafted observational comedy for abuse from a particularly foul-mouthed playground. It all started to come back to me. I remember now. True to form, his foul-mouthed mean-spiritedness lost the audience's goodwill. A few other hecklers joined in. He started grumbling and cursing about how we were peasant unworthy of his art, with some (for him) new material about how all the other comedians from his London youth were cunts for selling out and doing telly panels shows while he was still toiling away at the coalface of comedy for the purity of the art.* Then he flounced, and the MC had to come back on...

*Nothing to do with him being a highly-strung twerp who couldn't handle more than a tiny bit of pressure without calling everyone in the room a cunt and flouncing when they don't think that's very funny.

Others of note

Janeane Garofalo at Latitude Festival 2009. Her few two gags died a death, and she was clearly jet-lagged (or stoned or both) so couldn't summon the nimbleness of mind to adapt her material for people who'd stopped thinking gags about tampon commercials were funny around 1990 when everyone else with a microphone was doing the same ones. She floundered, and then flounced, but at least had the decency to look like she knew it was her fault and not ours. I even felt a little sorry for her. The overall effect was saved, hugely, by Ed Byrne, who came on almost an hour earlier than planned, filled the time she was meant to have, and carried on into his own spot, and was funny from start to finish.

Oh, and there was some dumb-assed Northerner called Rob Unmemorable-BBC3-Sitcom (or something) who was top of the bill at Jesters in Bristol four years ago. At the age of 42, I was on a non-date with a 26-year-old woman and he was so unfunny, we ended up conspiratorially laughing at him. This worked well enough for both of us (it was her first comedy gig ever) that I ended up sleeping with her, which did my middle-aged ego no end of good. So I can't really say it was such a terrible gig, since it helped me get my end away. Thanks Rob, for being so hilariously shit.
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 14:07, 8 replies)
Sounds to me like that was Ian Cognito's actual act

Still sounds like shit, though.
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 14:34, closed)
If it is...
...then he's being doing the exact same material for over 20 years. No wonder he's not on the telly (at least until Brucie dies and the Strictly gig comes up).
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 14:50, closed)
He's been on at the comedy tent for every Glastonbury I've ever been to
Like "Atilla the Stockbroker", I've never ever bothered to go and see him, because I assumed they'd be as funny as cancer. Thanks for the confirmation :)
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 15:27, closed)
Atilla isn't a comedian, he's a musician
Dunno where the name comes from.
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 17:13, closed)
I just googled him and the number one result says "performance poet"
I feel justified in not going to see him all those times
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 17:39, closed)
I saw him at Glastonbury a few years ago, very late on Sunday. He was quite, quite wasted. He performed what I guess was the first 10 minutes or so of a 20 minute routine, got a bit confused at some point after chastising David Beckham for some transgression or other, lost his bearings, and started back at the beginning again: "Bought a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil the other day - got it home, someone'd only gone and fucked it..."

As the olive oil gag restarted the material for the 3rd time, I was beginning to think it was some kind of genius meta-performance - impossible for anyone to really be that hammered, surely?

A 4th repetition of the olive oil gave me some doubts, and by this time he was mostly grumbling about how the audience didn't deserve him, very much in the classic style of Embittered Comic, but still quite amusing generally. The stage manager was hovering near the edge, obviously wondering whether to cut him short, but as people were generally enjoying the spectacle, the act continued (by and large).

Then he decided he needed to get closer to someone in the audience to discuss some point or borrow a hat or something, and rather misjudged how easy it would be to stride out into mid-air over the metal barrier. He basically fell forward in mid air and landed, on his neck, on the barrier, briefly seeming to have knocked him out cold... for a moment he could quite easily have been dead, but shortly after he came to and continued with the set, after the organiser had failed to persuade him to seek medical attention. He did about another 10-15 minutes of material, presumably having remembered the bits he'd forgotten the first 3 or 4 times.

So I guess he'd given up flouncing by 2010 - I can't say it was great comedy, but definitely a highlight of a very weird evening for me!
(, Sun 28 Jul 2013, 16:41, closed)
I have a vague connection with Ed Byrne (of whom I am a fan):
my ex slept with him.

I think that makes me a little bit famous, and I won't hear any different.
(, Fri 26 Jul 2013, 15:21, closed)

You found Ed Byrne funny?
(, Sat 27 Jul 2013, 9:56, closed)

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