“Avoid loud and aggressive persons. They are vexations to the spirit.”
That’s from the poem “Desiderata” by Max Erhmann, which became popular all over the world. And many other places, too.
Bizarrely, the poem became a Top 20 hit in 1971 for Les Crane, who narrated it to a musical accompaniment. Though his version was so sugary, many would have preferred that, rather than being set to music, it had been set on fire.
Bearing in mind that I’m a comedian, you may find it odd that I empathise with Max’s advice. But most comedians are quiet introverts off stage.
Professionally, there are nights when, faced with a persistently rowdy element in an audience, with the help of the comedian’s best friend – a reliable microphone – I adopt a firm tone and make sure they know that their boorish behaviour is spoiling the show for everyone else.
I’ve never understood why people – girls can be as bad as boys – pay to go to a club to see a comedian, then think it’s okay to talk loudly through their act. It isn’t.
You might say they’re simply having fun. But when six or seven people’s idea of ‘fun’ annoys the other 90% of the audience, I have no alternative but to step in.
To date, my method of confronting the noisy element head-on has had a pretty good hit-rate.
I’ve only been hit twice.
When I’m not being funny for money, I tend to keep my voice down and surround myself with quietly-spoken friends and colleagues.
However, I also live in the real world.
Last week, I was in a cafe enjoying a healthy salad, when the person sat opposite me pointed out that my plate of fish and chip was going cold and asked me to stop enjoying his healthy salad.
Three young women were crammed around the next table, none of them further than two feet from each other – they could have conversed in whispers and still understood what they were saying.
Yet all three talked at the tops of their voices from the moment they sat down, discussing the major issues facing the world today: celebrity gossip, soaps, boyfriends, make-up, Fifty Shades….honestly, you should have been there.
You could have had my seat.
As annoying as it was having my eardrums assaulted by their inane chatter, it was fascinating that they felt they could talk so loudly, as if the rest of us simply didn’t exist. If there’s such a condition as people blindness, where sufferers can see everything around them except human beings, they all had it.
I’ve witnessed similar behaviour on trains, as selfish, self-important idiots bellow into their mobiles, oblivious to other passengers.
The popular Swansea comedian Ossie Morris had a catchphrase which echoes my feelings about ‘loud, aggressive persons’…
“Hush! I must ‘ave ‘ush!”
I might have it printed on a tee-shirt and wear it everywhere!
If you see me, give us a shout!