The Best Comic screams “Black Man!” in a crowded pub

9 Apr

1:39 PM 9 April 2012 Nunhead Heights

My life as the Best Comic in England continued in Waterloo last night.

I was met with a decidedly mixed reception from the audience at the “Ivor Dembina’s £1 Cabaret”. It must be said that I am not used to playing for an audience who have paid so much.

I didn’t know where I was in the running order having not paid attention to Ivor when I arrived in the packed pub. I was expecting emptiness. I was promptly called onstage by Ivor to follow a musical-slash-poetry-slash-single-double act called the “Anti-poet”.  I know what you are thinking: Dreadful! But no. It was literally “anti-poetry” – it was funny and thus “comedy”.

That is why I like to work alone – no risk of anyone funnier than me on stage.

I was also not wearing my comedy suit but dressed in the casual clothes of the depressed unemployed middle aged man. And as you know about me: One change and everything else goes out the window. The saying is that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China I go mental in Waterloo. I used the word ‘mental’!

Quite a few of the ladies there did not like me. As a professional comic – or having played one at comedy shows in two cities on three continents – I can recognize genuine heckling. One screamed repeatedly “I’m from Chicago and I don’t like you.” That is how I know she didn’t like me. Newer comics take note.

Still, one cannot be sure whether people don’t like one [ can one? ] until after the show when one meets one’s audience on the way to the loo.

I like to hand out fliers for my show “Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous” at the Source Below every Tuesday and Wednesday. I was concerned because I had only a few fliers with me and thought I may run out. Luckily, no one was denied.

There was a divide in the room. The women didn’t seem to like me at all. I was told they found my pointing at the black man in the front row and shouting “THAT’S A BLACK MAN!  LOOK!  A BLACK MAN!!” was not at all funny. I answered that my shouting at him was only for the first three minutes of my set – what about the rest? What about my extended riff on the similarities between the Austrians and the Australians?

Another told me that she wanted to like me but found me “unpleasant”. I told her that if I had one more minute she would have liked me. One extra minute – that was it – I needed 11 minutes – to make her like me. Give me that minute now, I pleaded. Then I asked: Hadn’t she met anyone who she really liked in the first ten minutes but turned out to be a total – lets say – not nice person? Couldn’t it work in the reverse, too?

I don’t remember the answers because I am not a very good listener.

Then I took another tack. I told her I wanted to like her as an audience member but I just couldn’t. And I was severely disappointed in her tonight. It works both ways, you know.

On the way to the erm… limo… Ivor pontificated – though briefly for him. He remembered something the British comic Lee Mack had said to him about playing Jongleurs comedy club. I won’t repeat it here because it is such a good piece of comedy advice that I daren’t share it with anyone. Daren’t. A proper Englishman am I.

Lee Mack is my favorite British comic  – cause he is frigging brilliant and a lovely man and one should take any and all advice he proffers. I have never used the word “proffer” before – ever!

He once told me – yes, I knew him – that I shouldn’t ever joke about that horrible couple who cannot be named because they sue everyone and a lot of people actually believe them – that I shouldn’t ever joke about them because if I am wrong about them it would have been evil on my part. That is the difference between me and Lee Mack. Lee Mack isn’t evil. I’ll take the chance.

In the end, the audience woman was surprised that the black man in the front row found it all very, very amusing. As did his Austrian escort. Calling a black man a “black man” doesn’t sound very funny in the retelling but what ever does? It is was all very, very, very ironic.

Fair Ivor Dembina seemed sick fed up with me and will probably not book me again. He was beyond angry and into the “unlove” emotion.

Today, I was tweeted by one @pdpickard “@lewisschaffer amazing set at the Kings Arms last night, hilarious!” And Ivor texted to see if I wanted to hang out today.



Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission. Reserve at


3 Responses to “The Best Comic screams “Black Man!” in a crowded pub”

  1. Joanne April 10, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    I think Lewis Schaffer and Lee Mack are both great comics. Those who don’t think the same don’t know comedy. So there!

    • the darkone May 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      Ok, so I’d like to break this down a bit…
      Joanne….was you at the same gig I see your comment was left at 12.25am so I can only assume that drug, alcohol or possibly abduction were your reasoning for leaving such a polite review! I was at said gig and in order to make an offensive comment funny you need to be….well funny! Firstly ‘ the best comic in England’ is not just an overstatement, it’s not even egotistical…it’s an offence to any English speaking person that’s ever told a joke! Next you didn’t need to be greeted by an empty pub as the first few minutes of your act gave us all that experience and I suspect you work alone as this saves you money in travel…I should like to point out that ‘quite a few ladies disliking you’ is an understatement, as I think the incredible silence followed by the heckling (from the lady from LA) clearly indicated! Being unsure as to if your audience likes you I should think was quite clear from the long q at the toilet of which was due to the large amount of ladies waiting to throw up! People asking for your flyers were doing so out of irony…I know because I spoke to all three of them. using comments on people ethnicity can be funny but first it needs to be funny…simply shouting ‘look a black man’ for the first three minutes of a set is not funny, it’s a simpleton pointing out the bleeding obvious and would only be less embarrassing had it been done by a child! The person you say told you ‘she wanted to like you’ didn’t actually say that…she just thought you was unpleasant full stop…the person you mention is my wife and no amount of time could endear you to her anymore than it could an elephant to poachers…and no it doesn’t work both ways, you had a crowd of mixed individuals and all of them only needed the first three minutes to decide they didn’t like you…I don’t think anyone who has participated in big brother has even managed that so well done you. Oh and another pointer…no it doesn’t matter if you like the audience or not because they are the ones that pay to see you and will pay (or in this case not) to see you again!

      painful is an understaement!

      • Lewis Schaffer May 3, 2012 at 1:21 am #

        Thank you, the darkone, for searching me out and for writing such an extensive critique of my act in Waterloo.
        I hadn’t realized that the people there didn’t like me. Now I know!
        Best wishes.
        PS I don’t think Joanne did say she saw the show that night.

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Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

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