I love audience participation.
Partly because it lets me do what I really love doing most onstage – improvising – and partly because it means that at least one part of the show will be completely unique, never to be seen again by another audience in that same way. (Which really, again, comes back to what I love about improvising full-stop).
I’ve learned the hard way to only ever take willing volunteers. People who are roped into it by somebody else, or are pressured by me, either don’t want to say much, freeze up completely or just look uncomfortable (not something people want to see onstage, particularly when they are going to automatically empathise with the poor audience member up there!) No, no, much better to get someone who really wants to be there – chances are they’ll actually have a good time up there because they want to!
Which brings me to this weekend’s gig.
Closing the show, I launched into one of my favourite bits to perform – a song which requires the help of an audience member, and put the call out for a volunteer.
“YEP!” I heard from a dark corner in the back of the room.
“Well, don’t you sound keen!” I cried. “Come on up!”
It was then that my extremely eager sounding gentleman emerged from the shadows and onto the stage.
The moment he set foot up there I could see this was going to be a bit of an interesting one.
There he was: a twenty-something dude in a baseball cap with one unmistakeable feature: SWERVINGLY SWAGGERINGLY SLAUGHTERED.
Not just tipsy. Not just happy. More “I don’t know if I can stand up/talk English good/WHAAKERPLOSH” hammered.
“Oh boy,” I thought. “This is either going to be genius…or utter freaking disaster.”
Thankfully, it ended up being suitably amusing. Hehe. I’ll say no more, but will post video on here as soon as I get my damn camera cable sorted!
I found out later that apparently my new friend, (named Phil, and he’d certainly had his, boom boom ching!) wasn’t even watching the show that night, he just stumbled upstairs in the final ten minutes and happened to wander on in just as I was asking for a volunteer.
Dear young baseball capped and innebriated Phil, who works in the mines and “hates relationships” – for us, dear chap, the stars aligned.
"Hold onto your seat, Phil. No, really. HOLD ONTO YOUR SEAT."
Pity he won’t remember any of it.