The mood of England’s sporting fans can influence the reaction from live audiences, while big sporting tournaments are being held. Playwright and comedian Johnny Tait remembers The Night the Comedians Died
“If you’ve never died you’ve never worked”. When I was a fresh faced young lad new to showbiz, I was talking to a couple of seasoned pro’s, and these were the words they said. I never knew what they meant but I do now.
As my aim is to promote live entertainment, I would never say anything negative about the business or anyone working in it, but as this publication is read by pro’s, I think we can openly talk about the times we have died.
Were you performing on the evening of Saturday October 20th 2007?
If you are a stand-up comedian you will remember it as the night we all died. As I was driving back from my gig, other comics were calling me and telling about how they had died. England were playing in the Rugby world cup final. The kick off was 8pm with just seconds to go we needed a try to win the game and retain the trophy. Matthew Tait scored what looked to me like a perfectly good try, only to have it disallowed. The game was over England had lost, fifteen minutes later it was cabaret time!
The complex I was booked at had two rooms, I was in the largest room and a duo were booked to play the smaller room, but they didn’t. Without telling anyone they were leaving, they did a runner. Something I have never done. Was it because I am brave or stupid? Or was it because my parents taught me to always stand up for myself? I think I went on because I simply needed the money.
The room was packed and I was dying after 20 minutes I said “Come on I know you’re all gutted, I’m gutted, but the boys did us proud” Someone in the audience began to chant “Ingerland Ingerland” I said “Come on if we are to do that let’s do it properly” I then began to sing without any backing ‘Swing low Sweet chariot’ All of the audience joined in. It worked! At the end of the song I went back to doing stand up and back to dying.
When I came off, the compere said “That was really good”. I replied “It wasn’t, I died. His answer was “At least you got a clap and a cheer, that’s more than anyone else gets at this place”.
As I was leaving the venue one of the girls on the entertainments team said “Nice one”. I replied “It wasn’t. I just stood there and struggled for 45 minutes” She answered “Yes but you did 45 minutes most comedians that come here only do 20”