My first cruise was one of the most lonely disasters I’ve had in comedy. All comics will have a long journey home after a bad gig but imagine having to stay at the gig for a week. I was told by my agent that I’d be main stage, I was not even third stage. Instead I was in the corner of what the ship described as ‘The noisy bar’. It had a stage with 30 seats in front of the stage then tables all over the place most without a view of the stage. The main bar that was in the middle and people were there to drink not concentrate.
Show 1 (a)- No-one sat in the thirty seats to watch the show but about 100 sat around the room. I was surprised by the nice applause I got when I walked on but about five minutes into the show it was not great and because i could not see anyone I left the stage and moved towards where the audience were. I played to a table of six who seemed to enjoy it but it was a long 45 minutes of failure. I discovered afterwards the crowd were mainly watching on TV screens so when I walked off stage I walked off screen.
Show 2 (b)- One hour later same show, again no-one sat in the front seats. I walked on to near silence. I was playing to next nothing so went over to a table of about ten and made them sit in the 40 seats telling them that even if they didn’t laugh I wanted to at least see myself die in their eyes. They moved, three of them enjoyed the show. The others lent me their eyes to die in.
The worst moment on the cruise was not even on stage it was day 4. I got off the ship in the beautiful sunshine soaked Spanish town of Palma. I had a great day walking around an unknown place taking in the sights full of coffee and ice cream I almost forgot I was on my own personal Titanic. I was having the time of my life and then I needed the toilet I found a public toilet (McDonald’s) and queued up. Now, these people could not see me but a British family were nearby and I heard this.
Boy – I really liked the magic woman last night.
(My Head – She was on the same stage as me the night after)
Mum – She was rubbish.
(My Head -That’s it don’t let your child enjoy stuff)
Boy – I liked her.
(My Head -You stand you ground boy)
Mum – Well she was better than that comedian the night before.
(My Head – You what now? How did I get involved in this?)
Dad – Comedian? If I were him i’d look for another job.
(My Head – Woah woah woah, I’m being judged by people who have taken their kids to Spain and are in a fucking McDonald’s – spreading out a happy meal does not count as Tapas dickheads)
What are the odds? I was having a lovely day. What are the chances that I would hear ‘What I hope’ was the only conversation in Palma slagging me off. I didn’t even go to the toilet I just left went back to the ship and locked myself in my room.
Small cruise ships are strange places, you stand out if you’re on your own and everyone recognises everyone. The next day we were at sea all day and it felt everywhere I went people pointed and yelled ‘That’s him’ it was ‘probably’ in my head but I stayed in my small room for 36 hours.
Then I had to come out for show 2.
Show 2 (a) – I put my suit on, made sure I looked good and told myself no matter what, never let them see you down. I might want to jump over board but rule one when I was a new comic never show fear. I walked from my room to the venue like I owned the place and I stood outside my venue smiling and saying hello to every person as they walked in. Then two women stood outside the entrance next to me.
Woman 1 – What’s on tonight?
(My Head – Me)
Woman 2 – A comedian.
(My Head – That would be me)
Woman 1 – Oh that will be good.
(My Head – Maybe.)
Woman 2 looked straight at me, I smiled at her and she spoke to her friend while looking at me.
Woman 2 – No he is appalling. Absolute rubbish.
(My head – ………………………….)
Even when I think back now I think surely she could not have been aiming it at me but I remember her friend looking at me confused at why her friend was no longer speaking to her.
They walked off. In my head I was saying, “Don’t let them see, don’t let them see” I looked at my watch and realised I was on in five. I went into the venue to find kids karaoke was just ending “Right kids stick around we have a comedian on next” I went on stage to the 30 seats full of under 12s. One little boy was dancing on stage when I went on. I gave the kids a 40 minute lesson in death.
Show 2 (b) – I didn’t leave the venue I sat out the back in the room for the hour between shows. I wrote a note that I still have in my office today that said ‘It is what it is’. I walked on for the last show it was busy meaning the 30 seats were full (with adults). Most people in the room were not that interested. At one point though I remember saying “Is it ironic that I am told that I am not allowed to swear then they put me in this shit situation” They laughed, I went on to tell them all the things that I was not allowed to mention like my contract, drink prices, the Titanic and it went, okay. It appears a man drowning is not entertaining unless he yells help.
A couple approached me afterwards and said “That was tough” (Was it? I hadn’t noticed) They had watched all four of my shows because they liked the table at the back of the room and would sit at it all night every night (meaning watching the same show twice a night, usually music) and they said the only annoying thing was the sound was out of sync with the picture on the screens. I went back to my room and stayed there until it was time to get off.