The worst stand up I’ve ever seen was the support for one of the best gigs I’ve seen recently. Pete Cain was supporting Jim Jefferies in Bristol. The contrast between the two was incredible, and it’s a testament to Jim’s performance that Pete didn’t leave a sour taste on the whole night.
Before I go further, I’ve read around this, and thought about posting it a lot. From what I’ve read, Pete Cain’s performance that night was in no way representative of his usual act. I think it was a very bad night for him. But I think it stands out as a perfect “when not to do it” example, and a reminder that you can’t “just wing it” and that if people have bothered to go out to a show, you should do your best to make their evening the best you can.
I was not aware that there was going to be a support act until Pete Cain walked out on stage. There was no mention on the ticket, on the booking, or in anything I’d seen about it. But, out he walked, and I’m getting two shows for one.
He came out and opened with “You know those days when you really can’t be bothered going to work, well this is one of those days for me, so we’re all going to have to get through this together. How long was that? 2 minutes? No? Just one? Shit.”
The crowd reaction was one where no one was sure where he was going. Is this his bit? Is he going somewhere with this? Or is he, as he says, hung over and can’t be bothered.
Turns out, he’s hung over and can’t be bothered. After explaining this, he says he’s going to try and get through the next 28 minutes without doing any jokes. After a couple more minutes he asks for another time check.
For another next twenty two minutes, he constantly asks the crowd how long he’s got left to go, tells us he’s still not going to do any jokes, and at one point, gets his iPhone out, reads out some half formed ideas from the notepad app, and then phones his friend to tell him how badly it’s going. Some of the crowd is laughing. It’s that nervous tense, “is this really happening” type of laugh.
In the last five minutes he does a half hearted attempt at a routine. It’s got potential, but in no way can it make up for the previous twenty five minutes.
We’re all there to see Jim Jefferies. We’re there to see comedy. This act was neither. It was insulting, irritating, and a waste of everybody’s time. I suspect the only reason he was on stage was so he got paid. As a performer you have an obligation to your audience to deliver a performance. You have a set, probably memorised. Even a half hearted attempt at delivering it is better than a refusal to bother. It was no surprise to him that he was due on stage. And three hundred people haven’t paid to see you do this.
Again, for a sense of fairness, he’s supporting Jim Jerreries, who is known for performing at his best while drunk. With Jim, often the drunker the funnier. And if you’re out drinking with someone like that, it’s probably hard not to get carried away. But you know this, and it’s mid tour.
One of two things is happening. Either this IS his act, in which case, it’s going horribly, and is certainly not a 30 minute piece. OR it’s not his act, in which case, WTF is he playing at?
The lesson, it would seem, is sometimes it’s better to not bother, rather than annoy the crowd. Especially if they’re not even expecting you in the first place. We would never have known any difference is Jim had come out on stage and he’d stayed backstage with a sore head.
As I said, I don’t think that night was representative of him. Here’s a much better set at the Comedy Store. I hope to get a chance to see him again, to see the difference between an off day and an on day.