I went back to the Lemon Tree last night to watch a comedy gig. Al Pitcher isn't someone I'd heard of before, and the whole show was entirely enjoyable.
I managed to retain my mysterious mask of public invisibilty, so was spared the attention of this Kiwi comedian, who keeps the show very intimate and individualised for each town he goes to. He does this partly by turning it into a 'chat' with the audience and partly through a 'slide show' of photos he takes of each town he visits before that night's show. Unlike many comedians who abuse their audience as part of the show, Al Pitcher was very friendly, and people were mostly happy to respond and speak to him. Even my daughter and I were prepared at various points to add our comments, but each time we were either too slow, or someone changed the track of the discussion before we piped up. I've seen Aberdeen audiences brutally heckle comedians in my previous life at the Lemon Tree as door steward, so I knew if he didn't get the balance right, they had the capability to reduce him to tears.
His take on Aberdeen through the photos he took was highly amusing, and it seemed the only thing to cause anything close to offence in them was his commentary that Aberdonians (scots in general, really) will put anything in a pie. Personally, I think the lull didn't come from offense, though. I think people were just wondering if they should tell him to have a rowie for breakfast next day. This weird concoction, also known as a buttery, is a fatty, salty, pat of pastry that looks like it was scraped off the bottom of a grill and is unique to the Aberdeen area, I believe.
In any case, everyone participated happily - even the Irish schoolteacher who frowned severely on his ... banter .... about whether or not teachers are ever tempted to try it on with the kids. (There was a bunch of Irish lady schoolteachers in together, and he was surmising that although it's definitely nasty and condemned by the media when male teachers do it... it seems to be thought of as as very sexy, when the teacher's a lady). As you'd expect, not too many people were laughing hard at such jokes, and yet Al managed to turn it around, and was told by the lady before the break that he was very funny - even if those particular jokes weren't. :D
I expect that this show depends very heavily on the audience - by its very nature. The Aberdeen audience was split about evenly between actual Aberdonians, and immigrants such as myself and the Irish ladies, which may have helped the comedian out a little. I've found a similarity though, between my native Belfast and Aberdeen, in that they tend not to take themselves too seriously anyway. They were happy to sit back and laugh at the way Aberdeen looks to a tourist, and to join in the banter (or craic, as my lot would say).
So although we had not set ourselves any expectations, other than hiding if he was brutal with the audience participation stuff (which he wasn't by any stretch), both my daughter and I came home still smiling and laughing, having had an evening out that was as interesting as it was entertaining. We'd definitely recommend it, and would see him again if we get the chance.