Steve N. Allen column: I enjoy being back doing my stand-up gigs - but I don't want it to become a full contact sport

It has been a strange time to be a stand-up comedian. For a while our trade was outlawed, which was less sexy than that sounds, writes Steve N Allen, Notts-raised comedian and writer.

By Tracy Smith
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:00 pm

There were very few rebellious speak-easy gigs but many nights of staying in watching the TV in tracksuit bottoms.

For a large chunk of the lockdowns, we had to perform on Zoom, which still involved the tracksuit bottoms.

I have enjoyed being back on the circuit, performing all over the UK, but being a stand-up comic now brings risks.

Steve N Allen, the Notts-raised comedian and writer.

Recently comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage. At the end of a show, a man from the audience got on the stage and ran at Dave while holding a weapon.

It was a knife concealed inside a fake gun. Only in America would you smuggle a knife into a venue by hiding it inside your second amendment rights.

It’s not the first time in recent memory that someone has been attacked for telling jokes. We all remember what happened at the Oscars. In fact when I heard Dave Chappelle was attacked I wondered if he’d put Will Smith’s wife’s name in his bleep mouth.

I don’t want to see stand-up comedy become a full-contact sport. Many of us got into being funny because we weren’t good at PE.

Comedian Steve N Allen says performing on stage has its risks.

If we stand-ups have to take a self-defence course to keep gigging it’s only fair that MMA fighters have to write a tight five minutes of material on aeroplane food.

We should remember that if someone performs a good joke, a bad joke, a rude joke or an offensive joke it is, fundamentally, a joke. If you don’t like a joke, you have many options. The best one is to stop watching the comedian who does jokes you don’t like. Why put yourself through it?

You can’t expect every joke that someone does to be to your liking, because not every bit of material was written for you. After performing the same set for a while, not even I like all my material.

If you ever find yourself thinking you’d like to hit a stand-up comedian, you are probably the kind of person who shouldn’t be in a stand-up comedy club audience.

Where will this end? You didn’t like the ending of a play so you nip up on stage to chin Dame Judi Dench? If a barbershop quartet misses a harmony you go and get your mates and have a melee?

The biggest upsetting part of this trend of violence towards stand-up comedians is that it is making me miss the safety of the Zoom gigs.

For another Steve N Allen column click here:

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