I run a show at the lovely Lichfield Garrick theatre. The show is called Comedy 42 and we pride ourselves on it being one of the best shows in the country. We have a fantastic regular audience and sell out every show. We pay our acts well. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished and last night we became even prouder.
During the second act of the evening, the marvelous Ben Van Der Velde, there was an announcement that the theatre needed to be evacuated. Comedy 42 occupies the Studio which has 150 seats but in the main theatre Pam Ayres was hosting a sold out 40 year anniversary show so that was another 500 people. As soon as the voice came over the tanoy saying we needed to evacuate everyone filtered out into the street. 650 people all outside a theatre and there was us, 3 comedians. All we need to perform is a willing audience. So we did what any good comedians would do, we continued the show. Ben stood up on a bollard outside the car park behind the theatre and just started his set all over again:
We were concerned that everyone was going to be worried about why we’d been evacuated and also that a lot of people were milling around in the road so Ben turned up his big boy voice and soon the crowd were laughing along with his anecdotes and forgetting about any potential peril.
While this was going on a fire engine showed up alerted by the ongoing alarm in the theatre. A quick check over from the firemen showed that it wasn’t anything too dramatic and after 10-15 minutes we were all allowed back into our respective rooms. The audience for Comedy 42 filtering into our Studio and Pam Ayres’ going into the main auditorium.
Or did they? It turned out that some of Pam’s audience had seen Ben outside and come with us back into the Studio! Turns out Pam wasn’t bitter about it though, that’s how charming Ben is.
Once we were all back in Ben carried his set on to the delight of every audience member!
(Pictured: Audience delight)
Before Ben we’d already had the incredible Scott Bennett who managed to avoid the whole fire alarm kerfuffle. But once Ben had finished his set (to raucous applause of course) we had the amazing Matt Richardson do an extended set to make sure everyone went home happy.
A good comedy show isn’t a venue, it’s not a single comedian, it’s not a host or a promoter. A good comedy show is the sum of it’s parts. It’s an audience wanting to be entertained, it’s a venue wanting the night to be a success, it’s a host who makes the show run smoothly and it’s acts who will do anything to make people laugh. My show isn’t just my show it’s every comedian’s show who performs on it, it’s every audience member’s who buys a ticket and it’s every member of the theatre who take tickets and promote the nights.
No matter what happens we’ll put on an amazing show, everyone will have a wonderful time and for a moment, no matter what happens, the world will be a brighter place.