He was nervous at the best of times but tonight he was positively bricking it.
The lights went down on a hushed audience at the Aberdare Coliseum and the adrenaline rush of the young fledgling comedian intensified.
He waited for the nod from the stage manager before he went out into the Cynon Valley Snake Pit.
He wasn’t being paid he was just volunteering…a YTS trainee comedian …as there were precious few jobs in the Valleys he thought he would give it a go…and his tour of the South Wales clubs was starting to take off.
After all if Rhod Gilbert could make it on television as a comedian why couldn’t he?
He strolled confidently onto the stage heading for the centre and the single microphone that he was to make his own for the next 30 minutes.
As the initial applause of the twenty people present had died down he adjusted the stand.
As he opened his mouth to start- he heard it.
“ Get Off….you’re rubbish!” came the shout from the audience.
“ Thanks for that vote of confidence!” said the kid with the stage name of Mike Knight.
He tried to start his act.
“ Ever been on an airplane….” he stammered.
“ No…!” shouted back the voice of the female heckler.
“ Well looking at you lady…you don’t need to go on a plane….as you have your broomstick to fly on!” he railed back at his abuser- even though he could not see her.
“ Cardiff Airport…you are waiting to go on a plane…!” he continued.
“ It’s shut….!” said the heckler.
“ I wish your MOUTH was!” spat back Mike.
“ You are standing at the security check-in…waiting to go through to duty free and they pick me to be searched ….why me?” he tried to plough on.
“ Because you look like the type who’d enjoy two fingers up his arse!” said the heckler right on cue.
The entire audience laughed at that one.
“ Listen ….these people have come to see me…not you!” said Mike.
“ Actually, that bloke over there in the raincoat has come for the topless darts…not to listen to your Christmas cracker specials….!” laughed the heckler.
“ So ….the security guard says to me …occupation….and I say I know I’m Jewish but I don’t intend…..!”
“ To pinch another Country…..heard it !” said the Heckler ruining the punch-line for everyone.
“ If you think you are so funny….stop hiding in those shadows ….if you have any guts….you’d get up on stage and do this job yourself!” said Mike.
“ You should be on a stage…there’s one leaving for that Cowboy Town in Merthyr soon…it’s where you belong!” said the heckler.
The comedian novice tried again.
“ Do you worry about flying ….do you get sick?” asked Mike.
“ Only when I watch an act as bad as this…you have less talent than the panel on X Factor!” said the Heckler.
The crowd enjoyed that one too.
“ I’m nervous flying anyway…so why do they reassure you by calling it the terminal?” asked Mike resuming his act.
“ Terminal….I’ve had funnier cancers than this!” said the Heckler.
Mike tried to peer through the blackness to see who his abuser was but the footlights were too strong.
“ Look lady …if YOU are a lady that is….take that mask off Halloween is over… they warned me this place was haunted…!” Mike tried to fight back.
“ As if you are an oil painting yourself….God clearly ruined a perfect bum when he put teeth into your face…! said the unseen witch.
“ Look you women are all the same…never happy with life always criticising others- …I don’t trust anything female…anything that bleeds once a month and doesn’t die!” said Mike.
“ You know all about dying now…you are dying tonight on your arse son!” said the heckler.
“ So the check in lady asks me if I want a special seat…so I say yes on the black box please…the flight recorder to you stupid…!” he said in the direction of his verbal attacker.
“ I want to sit at the back of the plane….!” Mike carried on regardless.
“ Because you don’t hear of many planes reversing into mountains!” shouted the Heckler ruining it again for everyone.
Mike stormed off the stage and complained to the Stage Manager who looked a little like a feline version of Nicholas Lyndhurst.
“ I’ve had enough of this….my first proper gig and I’m having to deal with a heckler who knows all the punch-lines…is funnier than me …either throw her out or shine a light on the woman so I can see who is abusing me!” moaned Mike.
Doing as he was told the lighting man swung a huge ‘Colditz- like’ searchlight beam on the audience until it stopped on a woman in the ‘fringe’.
Mike was surprised to see it was a strangely attractive brunette with a slim figure who was sitting side- saddle on the top of the seats.
Her only blemish was a vulgar tattoo of a flaming battenburg cake on her shoulder.
On further examination it appeared to a drag artist- a man dressed as a woman.
“ Where you from Luv…is it Llanbobl…. with that tattoo on your back…you look like a female equivalent of Robin McBride….you cheap hooker you…come up here and fight me man to man …you granny tranny….I’ll soon have you ‘knocking on Heaven’s Door’….threatened the youngster.
The woman swung her legs over the top in doing so catching her ‘najjers’ in the velvet seating last seen in a 1970’s picture-house.
The heckler had called Mike’s bluff.
As she made her way onto the stage Mike began to get worried but the woman’s five o’clock shadow looked familiar.
“ Why are you abusing me….I’m only on work experience!” protested the kid worried that this was the Swansea Cross dresser on ‘You Tube’ that battered people for fun.
“ You know why ….’Ask Rhod Gilbert’ because you’ve been stealing his act !” said the voice of the Welsh Tourist Board.
“ Every club I have been in ….has heard my jokes before…because you’ve been pinching them!” said the heckler.
“ I keep getting paid off like Tom Jones was!” protested the tranny.
“ But there is no such thing as an original joke….no copyright on gags!” protested Mike.
“ Well…here’s one punch-line you won’t forget !” said Rhod as he gave the fellow a ‘Carmarthen Clout’ and turned the stand up comedian into a lie –down one.
The youngster lay still with an expression on his face like ‘Lloyd Langford’….as blood oozed from the YTS man’s cut face and animated stars around his concussed head.
“ Next time, leave the ‘Open Mike’ nights to the professionals!” said Gilbert