Me versus the stags

Diane Spencer faces the 'aggressive mouthy beast'

Bournemouth was once voted happiest place to live in Britain, no doubt because they did the survey at 1am, and it was composed of Bournemouth’s cash-cow demographic: stags and hens.

Bournemouth must be enjoying a golden era, with marriages on the increase since the financial crises, all those final nights of freedom ironically ending in jail cells or being handcuffed to lampposts and mingers. It was in Bournemouth that I recently performed my first gig in front of such a crowd and I was advised that the baser I could go, the better I could do.

I was given the impression that in order to succeed, all I needed to do was something like wank off with a tin of dog food, pour the contents of the tin into my arsehole and have the nearest ‘stag’ who I would traditionally have to denounce as a ‘queer cunt’ eat it out (this is all metaphorically speaking - at no point did I start looking for a funnel).

It was apparent that there were eight stag parties to two hen dos in the room, making the evening an almighty sausage banquet. Nobody in that room was a virgin. The hens’ parties were definitely not about the tender letting go of a girls’s last night of freedom. It was more a mad scramble for one last guest before the B&B shuts down due to the council pronouncing it a health hazard.

I didn’t like the people in the audience. From the three obese girls wearing matching black and white dresses with toilet paper stuck to their heels, so they lumbered across the room like lame mummified cows, to the gang of balding, elderly men who sat there telling me exactly how funny I should be in comparison to them, literally before I went onstage.

I hate the pack mentality: individually I’m sure they are all lovely, just like an individual vegetarian might quietly admit that they miss bacon sandwiches, before pronouncing me a lamb murderer as soon as all their slack trousered food fascist mates turn up.

This gig was more reminiscent of my school teacher days, patrolling the playground at lunch, mindful to duck whenever a football was fired in my red-headed direction. It was nothing to what I want my experience of stand-up to be. The promoter told me: ‘You did really well, but dumb it down.’ Allegedly, the most successful part of my ‘act’ was when I was asking for slang terms for ladies’s bits. Dumb it down? The next step is that we all just drag one of the hens onstage, pull down her Primani knickers and throw rocks at her vagina, then the headliner will come out hooting about discovering fire.

I came away from that gig, thinking harder than ever about the structure of my material. I quite enjoyed it; they were a playful bunch and when I left the stage, I was contemplating my choice of material and the order of my gags. The slightly more complicated ones were in the middle it was true, as I had followed the traditional idea of quick fire material at the beginning to get trust, but this second part was when I lost them. There was too much beer for a joke involving menopause, menstruation and the tampon twins walking into a bar, then getting them back left my act a little deflated at the end.

The next day I started writing gags, insulting gags – real aggressive ones that were pointing out the flaws, pushing high on ‘us versus you’ ideas. I realised I wanted desperately to overpower and ride the mob. Instead of seeing it as a sodomy of my own act by a hundred drunken morons, I saw it as almost creating a character that would be the gobby-mouthed beer swilling ladette I (perhaps wrongly) predicted they would want.

I think I’m both presumptuous and rude. Funny is funny, right? Yes, but there’s differentiation. This crowd are hard drinkers, they have assembled for a slightly different comedic purpose – to get ideas for their filthy shenanigans. To be told: they are base, dirty little fuckers; they want permission from a comedian to go mad.

I have this gig booked again in two weeks, and every so often I write something special for it. Part of my brain rebels: ‘What the fuck are you doing? You don’t want this.’ Long term… no I don’t. But for the moment, I can see this unpredictable, aggressive, mouthy beast leering in the dark in front of me, and I want to smash and tear it to pieces. Failing that I’m sure the funnel and dog food will be tax deductable.

  • Diane Spencer's website is

    Published: 14 Jun 2010

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