Carnal Comedy


So I’m chatting to my lovely sound and lighting tech after my comedy festival show and, because life is awesome, she said this:

“…yeah so this couple up the back last night were fully getting it on.”

I stopped what I was doing (probably taking photos with fans or signing breasts or receiving awards or whatever it is I do after my shows) and I looked at her in disbelief.

“What do you mean, ‘getting it on’?”

“They were fully making out during the whole show and then she, er…she pleasured him. With her hand.”

My soul felt like vomiting.

“They were doing that? During my show?


I didn’t know how to feel. How was this possible? Could my brand of pedestrian derivative stand up comedy really get people in the mood? Could the endorphins released by watching me yell jokes about human genitalia actually affect those very same areas of the anatomy and get the frisky juices flowing?

And is that…a compliment?

“So I’m up there on stage talking about shaving my pubic hair and hen’s nights and my dad and the time people wanted me fired from the radio” – (it’s a complex show) – “and they’re sitting up the back here, in front of you, fiddling about with each other’s bodies like Year 10 students behind the bike sheds?”


“Gosh. I hope they were reviewers.”

Apparently this was not the first reported case of festival frottage in 2013, either. A comedian friend told me the same thing happened in the gloomy shadows at the back of the room during her show, too. Then my stupid brain reminded me that my parents had gone to see that show and my imagination volunteered its services and then I had to do that thing where you try really really hard to think about something, ANYTHING else, for the sake of your sanity and your lunch.

I’ve seen audience members (thankfully not audience’s members) get up to all sorts of heavy petting hi-jinks at gigs over the years. It never ceases to unsettle me. Comedy is not sexy. It’s a bizarre thing to be telling strangers about the time you had your heart broken and cried a lot and suffered from scabies only to look down and see a young couple in the front row sucking face. What is it about the combination of premises, punchlines and callbacks that gets people so amorous? I understand that such actions are generally borne from a disgustingly euphoric love rather than any kind of petty malice, but still – it’s not ideal. It’s just a fundamentally inappropriate reaction, like eating a sandwich during a job interview.

Or laughing during sex, for that matter.

Of course it can be easy to misread the goings on of a crowd when you’re onstage, what with lights blinding you and terrified voices inside your head telling you your material is worthless. Another comic mate informs me that upon seeing two ladies locking lips in the audience the other night, he asked them to explain themselves. They told him that one of the girls had leaned over to the other to explain a reference that had just been made in the show and as she had leant in, her glasses had jabbed her friend in the eye, prompting her to briefly kiss it better.

Sometimes it’s easier when people just yell out “You suck!”.

One caveat to all this, though: I say you’re more than welcome to start sending this kind of physical display towards the stage. Just once I’d like to know what it feels like to be in the Red Hot Chili Peppers and have a member of the public celebrate their enjoyment of my “art” by flashing their God-given bounty in my direction. Also I want to crowd surf. And I want moshers, not hecklers.

You’ve got just four shows left, people. Sort it out, Melbourne.


(Tickets to my show available here. Please bring your own tissues.)