What I learnt from a night at the comedy store

I’ve been wanting to go to a comedy club for about a hundred years. I have never been to one, and what’s not to love about an evening full of laughter? So, when my boyfriend’s friend from work said he was performing at The Comedy Store on Monday night, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

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As you walk down the stairs and into the underground performance room at The Comedy Store in Piccadilly Circus, there are posters on the wall promoting laughter and its positive effect on your body. I read every one of them, loving them and feeling slightly proud of myself. Had I just found the best fibro-friendly activity in London?

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Well, I’m afraid we Spoonies are hard to please. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

We arrived, grabbed a drink and sat fairly close to the front. Photography was banned (the worst words a blogger can hear, cue pouting for a few minutes) but drinks were allowed, so I settled in with a vodka and coke and got ready for 90 minutes of hilarity.

The show we watched was King Gong, a regular opportunity for aspiring comedians to get discovered. They take it in turns to do a five minute set; however, there’s a catch. Three members of the audience are given a red card and in the style of Britain’s Got Talent, if you don’t like what you hear you raise your card. When all three cards are raised, the host hits the gong and the comic leaves the stage. If they can last the full five minutes, they’re in the final.

The blurb on The Comedy Store’s website describes King Gong as “not for the feint hearted – performers or otherwise!” and they couldn’t be more right. This was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, and all I had to do was sit and watch. 36 performers took to the stage, five of them had us in stitches and made the final. The rest… oh my.

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When the three cards went up, I felt so sorry for the people on stage. These poor men and women of various ages and backgrounds stood up there, giving us their all and we just shoved cards in their faces. It was terrible. Or at least that’s what I thought until I saw what happened when the audience don’t raise their cards. People are cruel. The audience got so much enjoyment out of seeing people choke on stage whilst a hundred people booed at them, that they kept their cards down and let the abuse continue until either things became too painful to watch or the host stepped in to override the audience. At one point the insults were so bad I turned around to give the abuser a look of disgust, the way my Nan used to, only to see the insult-er was one of the comics from earlier in the show and had not long ago been the insult-ee. What’s wrong with these people?!

The host was outstanding and he seemed to have the audience under control – relatively. There were some comedic gems that came out of the night, and the guy who was crowned King Gong at the end of the show definitely deserved his title. But for every comedy genius there were six thrown under the bus whilst we clapped and laughed at the massacre.

At this point, if you find public humiliation hilarious then this may well be working out as a good fibro-friendly night for you. However, I found it all very uncomfortable and therefore was mainly quite stressed, hot and sweaty throughout the whole thing. Not only that but the winner is chosen by way of a clap-a-thon; the finalists have one minute to carry on their set and the audience claps and woops in response. The loudest response equals the winning act. Perfect, except that noise is a common trigger for fibro flare ups and I came out of the The Comedy Store feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I have no idea how those 36 contestants coped. They have all my respect – especially the crap ones.

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