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Tim Fitzhigham and the fainting audience member
Buccaneering comedian Tim Fitzhigham discover he has a killer gag in his set – almost literally
It’s one of the clichés you hope never comes true, but as the venue manager and I carried an audient (singular of audience) out of the venue to the waiting paramedics, I was very worried that I might have killed someone with laughter. Comics across the world aim for this. There are so many phrases: "I had them rolling in the aisles", "killer punchlines", "laughed so hard they were gasping for breath".
Yes, it’s a funny show, and on the right day some of the jokes might come close to devastating, but when an audient actually passes out, becomes unresponsive and can’t remember their name, it’s arse-clenchingly terrifying.
Luckily for me, the paramedics were there quickly and I watched as the poor lady was wheeled off to the waiting ambulance and the Royal Infirmary beyond (I’ve since heard she’s fine ... so a big phew there). As I stood watching them leave, a clutch of people in the Courtyard gathered around: "What show was that?" I told them it was mine.
"Is it really that funny?" I hesitated; there’s a very fine moral line here, profiteering from the poor lady’s discomfort, vs bad box office… "come and see it to find out ..." "If we look queasy will you leave out the joke that did that to her?" "Absolutely."
Later in a bar, several comics who’d heard my disaster of the day quietly came up to me and said "what was the exact gag that did it?" Like they thought it may be useful to have an actual borderline killer gag – one would be useful to deal with hecklers. I shrugged, "I’d rather not say, I’ve given the paramedics enough work today."
Reader, I’ve discovered a truly deadly weapon (well at least one with the power to cause a faint) but please rest safe that it’s in my hands. Like in James Bond, a weapon is only truly deadly if it’s administered well. It’s either my killer gag that got her or it could be the heat caused by the broken air con in the venue (now fixed) or a mix up in her blood pressure pills ... the jury is still out ... come see the show and make your own mind up.