In the land of the one-eyed man, Lewis Schaffer is king.

3AM Saturday 9th February 2013 Nunhead Heights

You know me: If something bad happens to me, I mean really bad, I will blog about it.

Last night at Vivienne and Martin Soan’s lovely Pull the Other One gig in Herne Hill, south east London, something really bad happened. I killed. 

I made the audience laugh so much that there was no doubt I had done well, really well. Usually I have my doubts.

A comic knows when he has done really well.

Everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone wants to touch you. One experienced comic tells you, unsolicited, “Your time has come”. Another tells you how professional you seemed.

Jeff Ross, the now-famous New York comic turned Roastmaster General of the United States, once told me that ‘you know how to bomb; you need to know how to kill’ – using the vernacular of comedy. That was maybe 13 years ago. I assume you all know what ‘bomb’ and ‘kill’ mean.

Well, I killed and it felt weird.

In the front row of last night’s show sat a big black man with one eye and a huge scar on the side of his head. He was wearing a stethoscope, a sling-shot and bells that tinkled as he walked.

He had been shot in the head, I found out later. This was on the edge of Brixton and the area was once rough. It all fell into place like a movie.

‘Hey, look at me’ he was saying. He was casting a pall on the entire show.

During the break, before my set, I went up to him at the bar, to judge if he was going to try and destroy my show, and to somehow mitigate any damage.

Pre-frontal lobotomy. Does anyone young know of them? Where part of a distressed mentally ill person’s brain was scraped out removing the site of excess emotion.

I knew one man who’d had a lobotomy. At least, I guessed he’d had one because he had the tell-tale horseshoe-shaped scar on his temple.

I had a summer job in a lawyers’ publication in Lower Manhattan when I was 17 or 18 and worked with him in the mailroom – back in the 70s. He would smile weakly all the time.

The man at the show had the same look as the mailroom guy. He wasn’t a brute, anymore. If he had ever been one. The bullet had made him genial.

I sensed the one-eyed man just wanted a good time, to ring his bells and have everyone pay a bit of attention to him.

Maybe that is why I’m funny now – consistently funny – or funny most of the time. I can look a man in his eye and know that he isn’t evil. I can know that he isn’t going to try to mess up my show.

All I had to do was ring his bells for him.

@lewisschaffer - twitter feed 

Lewis Schaffer’s American Guide to England
Leicester Square Theatre - £10
Sundays, March 3rd to April 21st 6 PM (except 7th April at 5PM)

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

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow 

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Posted in Comedy, Psychology
2 comments on “In the land of the one-eyed man, Lewis Schaffer is king.
  1. Brian Damage says:

    We did the very same gig tonight and nothing bad happened whatsoever … apart from Lewis Shaffer himself ( I know the name – he’s mentioned it once or twice over the years)

    He KILLED! He was BRILLIANT! He fucking ripped it.
    Normally this is a good thing – at the end of the evening – but we had to follow him.

    Now, we all have bad gigs, that’s the nature of comedy but I have NEVER ever seen Lewis have a bad gig.

    I’ve heard him talk about them like they are everyday occurrences.

    I’ve seen him have one or two that didn’t quite come up to his own expectations
    but then Lewis’s expectations are way higher than most.
    That’s what I like – a comic with standards.

    Lewis ripped it tonight in spite of the fact that Lobotomy Man joined in at every possible opportunity.

    One of the main reasons I love comedy is the comics themselves. I love the fact that they are all a bit nuts… and then… they have the cheek to complain when confronted by a man with a lobotomy.

    Granted it was performed by some bloke with a gun rather than a Harley Street surgeon but at least it’s an improvement.

    If somebody want’s to go to all the effort of shooting you in the head – then you are probably in need of a lobotomy or some such treatment.

    So… Lewis was BRILLIANT tonight and being a gentleman had the good nature to actually refuse an encore or two (knowing that we had to follow him)

    In any case we went on – had a great time and all ended well.

    All in all it was a splendid evening – and everybody lived happily ever after.

    Nighty night. x

  2. Ive had lobotomy man in the audience and he sent me a present later, via Vivienne, a painting.

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