Home' Scoop : Scoop 70 Summer 2015 Contents 70
SUMMER 2014 |2015
OUT LOUD Sami Shah
A Pakistani migrant comic living
in the Wheatbelt discovers that
bureaucrats and STDs dont mix.
words Sami Shah
s a stand-up comedian, I’m used to
the odd heckle. It always begins in
one of two ways: with an intoxicated
man just drunk enough to think he’s
hilarious and clever and that the world needs to
hear about it, or with an extremely attractive
woman who wants the room to know she’s not
amused by the person on stage taking attention
away from where it should belong.
A seasoned comic will repeat the heckler’s
words, just so the audience knows what was
said. My personal technique involves being
extremely nice to the heckler, politely requesting
that he or she refrain from disrupting the flow
required to deliver my carefully honed and
expertly crafted witticisms. This provides the
heckler with an opportunity to back down,
and also makes me look like the good guy. But
if the heckler – confidence bolstered by more
VB – starts heckling again, the comedian is free
to let fly a flurry of abuse to pound the spoiler
into submission, resulting in either a whimper of
surrender or a contemptuous walk-out.
But 150 booing hecklers are another matter.
Let me back up. We stand-ups do most gigs in
comedy clubs. We love these shows. Even though
the floor is sticky and the green room never has
enough beer, comedy clubs are where we hone
our craft. The audiences are there to see comedy,
and we are there to deliver it. Unfortunately,
though, comedy clubs pay very little. Last year
I did nothing but comedy club shows and made
a few hundred dollars. So, in a bid to, well, eat,
I began accepting corporate shows.
Corporate shows are when someone unrelated
to comedy hires a comedian to perform comedy
in an environment that’s pitifully ill-suited to
the genre. Usually it’s a boardroom, where the
HR manager looks on nervously as you sweat
in front of bored and disinterested businessmen
staring blankly into the middle distance as they
contemplate the emptiness of their existence.
But they pay really well, so it’s hard to say no.
The strangest corporate booking I’ve had was
with the WA Health Department, which paid me
moderately well to deliver comedy about STDs.
Apparently there was a growing need to inform
recent migrants from the developing world about
chlamydia and hepatitis C. As an immigrant
from a developing country, I can inform you that
knowledge of safe sex can be quite lacking in
some of these places. Back home, if after a night
of passionate lovemaking your pee didn’t burn
like fire ants and your genitalia glow like a neon
wand at a 90s rave, it just meant you hadn’t done
it right. So, having failed in every other method
of awareness-raising, someone in the Health
Department decided to pay me to write several
jokes about STDs and be filmed delivering them.
The department deemed the video a success
although I am yet to know by what metrics
this success was calculated – and I was asked to
expand the jokes to a half-hour set for students
at a Perth college. Apparently young people,
when given the opportunity to rub their genitalia
against each other, throw caution out with their
underwear. Who knew?
I assumed the show would be in an auditorium
or large classroom, with audience members
either politely laughing or politely ignoring me.
Either way, I’d get paid and we’d all walk away
with no lasting trauma. Instead, I discovered that
the venue was the college bar, where the End-
of-Year party was underway. It was 7pm, 150
students had been drinking since the afternoon
and were bumping and grinding to the DJ’s
jarring ringtone hiccups, and making out en
masse. Now I’m 36, so when I make out it’s
light kissing and gentle patting. They, however,
were making out like the vampires in The Strain,
tongues lashing their partners’ uvulas. Before I
could turn to the organiser and beg for the show
to be cancelled, the DJ stopped the music and
yelled: “Hey everyone! The comedy is here!”
Then he handed me the microphone and ran.
A barrage of hate was loosed upon me. 150
students, wiping spittle from their faces, booed
as one, exhaling beer-soaked disdain through the
media of jeers and abuse. For five continuous
minutes I stood there, hands shaking, mouth
dry, unable to say a word. You learn a lot about
yourself when booed by an angry mob. I learned
that I really hate young people. People are always
harping on about how the children are our
future and how we should make it a better world
for them. Bollocks. Young people are selfish, and
soaked in alcohol and shared spittle; they deserve
nothing. If you’re going to make a better world,
do it for bitter, jaded, 36-year-old comedians.
Then the mob stopped booing in unison,
presumably to draw more air into their lungs and
begin another barrage. Seeing my chance, I took
the opportunity to pull up the microphone and
say, “I hope you all get hepatitis.” Then I ran.
I consider that a draw. S
Catch Sami at the 2015 Fringe Festival.
Links Archive Scoop 69 Spring 2014 Scoop 71 Autumn 2015a Navigation Previous Page Next Page