Kai Humphries

Kai Humphries

2009 finalist in both the Laughing Horse New Act Of The Year competition and So You Think You're Funny

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A hero... or just an egotist?

Mike James takes issue with Kai Humphries' heckler takedown

In a Correspondents piece earlier this week, Kai Humphries described how he silence a bullying heckler at a poorly arranged gig in Melbourne, by jumping on to the stage from the audience and delivering some blistering putdowns before performing a brief impromptu set himself.

Bravo Kai!

No!

He sets up the article and the feeling of the gig nicely and leads the reader to a point where they are aware of its rather considerable limitations in terms of: late start time, the room itself, and lack of stage. Reading it, it is a situation no comedian of any level of experience would want to endure, as Kai himself points out mentioning he had already turned down the gig as he abhors ‘everything it stands for’.

No issues so far.

The problem with the article is that at this point it becomes a rather backhanded attack on the other performers. His reference to some of the comedians being ‘too inexperienced’ to handle the heckling I think is fair, but then saying that it was ‘immaterial anyway, because no one had enough of the crowd on their side to disempower [the heckler]’ is incredibly dismissive of the other comedians.

Even when referring to his ‘friend’ Dan Willis it seems Kai is lording it over him for accepting the job for a paltry ‘few beer tokens’ and although Dan intends to call Kai a ‘pussy’ for turning down the job, we are left in no doubt that Kai was indeed offered the job first.

This could all be explained away by the fact that Kai Humphries is an established comedian and he does really care about the quality of the shows he plays and has reached a level where he doesn’t have to accept every terribly run show. I can believe he genuinely hates to see his friends/ comedy colleagues get kicked about on stage.

However, his actions following this I find almost inexcusable.

Kai in his own words ‘hijacked’ the gig and brought the heckler’s world ‘crumbling down’ until he had a ‘pitiful look on his face like he was going to wet himself’. Not only did Kai destroy the heckler who had ruined the rest of the show, but he bought the previously boisterous bar to attention with his ‘verbal assault’ turning it in to a ‘proper gig’ and giving the audience some material to close the gig.

Hijacking a gig he wasn’t supposed to be on, showing other comedians up with his powerful invective, undermining other comedians’ efforts before he and only he, turned it in to a show. Why write any of this in the article if not as self promotion?

Who just jumps on stage at a gig? Especially one in which he didn’t know the compere and was new in town…luckily he had his wit to deal with these problems.

If he had intended just to subdue the heckler who had been harassed his comedy ‘brothers’ why stay on and do material of your own, this is nothing beyond egotism.

At the end Kai says he isn’t writing to brag about how funny his rant was, that it was made up of ‘stock put-downs’, and that he had the urge to do the ‘right thing’. He might not have been writing to brag about how funny the rant was, but he was certainly writing to brag about how good an all round comedian he is. While at the same time as claiming to be supporting his comedy brothers, the whole article strikes of pomposity of Kai The Heckler Slayer, he being the only one, not brave enough but skilled enough, to take down the heckler.

Surely if there is a heckler it is someone in the show’s job – or the door staff at an extreme – to deal with it? As a comedian, I don’t want someone jumping out of the crowd to save me and the gig, and then do some impromptu material as a victory lap.

If he truly wanted to save the gig, not just for the comedians but for the audience, surely he should have stepped in sooner, even though this is something he again would have no right to be doing.

I don’t know Kai as a person or as a comic, I don’t know the UK/Australia scene as I live in Berlin, where I perform English stand-up a couple of times a week at a mixture of open mics and booked shows. But I do know that in this situation, and especially in this article, he acted like someone deluded by their own self worth and importance.

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Published: 5 Apr 2013

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Kai Humphries: Bare-Faced Cheek


Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Kai Humphries: Shameless


Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Kai Humphries: Stuff Protocol


Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Kai Humphries: How to Be Happy


Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Kai Humphries: In Full Colour


Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Kai Humphries: Punch-Drunk


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