Published on 28 July 2002 in

The Ealing Summer Festival is a great idea. There’s loads of live music,

food fairs, events, fun for all the family. In my local pub, they’re holding a

play. Great stuff. And then there’s the annual Comedy Festival, coming from a

big marquee in the park.

The lineup this year caught my eye. Harry Hill on Thursday (I have my

tickets), Trev and Simon last night.

As a life long Trev and Simon fan, I was looking forward to seeing them

live. They’re a funny duo – not your average standup act by any means. Not for

them standing at the front of the stage picking on people in the audience.

The night had gone great. Gina Yashere first on, was good. Lee Mack was

second on and excellent. The crowd was in great spirits. Everyone was having a

great time.

And then there was Trev and Simon. Great I thought. Which is why at this

point I should take a moment to say what a complete bunch of idiots hecklers


I say this after having my evening soured by a small minority of idiots in

the crowd for managing to bring the sad result of Trev and Simon politely

walking off stage (abliet Trev doing it reluctantly after persuading Simon to

carry on for a little longer) around ten minutes into their set.

To be honest I am completely annoyed – not annoyed with Trev and Simon who

did their uttermost to continue under a barrage of very loud abuse and boo-ing

from a very small minority, tried to carry on.

Nor am I annoyed with Lee Mack who begrudgingly came back on after doing

his act, despite looking as if he no longer wanted to be there (and who can

blame him) and being very embarrassed to be back on under such circumstances,

and who spent most of his second stint on stage (rightly) heckling the

hecklers for being so nasty.

No. I’m completely annoyed with the very small but sadly very loud, and to

be honest vocally violent minority, who managed to remove a talented comedy

duo from stage on the sheer basis that their act wasn’t going to be a 45

minute version of "The Singing Corner".

For those that haven’t watched Trev and Simon live, their shows are like a

play – it starts off, builds up in the middle, climaxes and ends. It’s a

rolling event. Get off to a heckled start and you’re probably doomed. Being

nice comedians who never pick on the audience, it’s not a style of show that

reacts very well to heckling at all. To beat a heckler you need to put them

down. If your style is two nice guys, how do you put someone down without

making yourself sound bitter and twisted?

True to their style they tried to pacify the crowd – the opening routine

was a "lets get the pant swinging out of the way and get on with the new

stuff" approach – anyone who thinks any live comedian is going to do

sketches in a tent in Ealing when they have a 45 minute set and no time for

costume changes is seriously naive. Sadly it just didn’t work and as the duo

struggled to continue against a small bunch of people who were becoming louder

and more vicious, the duo politely half-walked, half-ran off stage, no doubt

amazed that some people who had paid good money to see them perform, turned on

them so quickly.

To be a comedian on the live scene, you no doubt have to have a thick skin,

and I have the uttermost admiration for Trevor Neal for trying to continue,

and persuading his partner to do so for that little bit longer, even when it

was clear that Simon didn’t want to – I have the uttermost admiration for them

both for continuing under what was 10 minutes of pretty nasty, vindictive

heckling and boo-ing, which started pretty much as soon as they came on


I have no gripes with them at all and I really don’t blame them for coming

off. When they’d left the stage their radio mikes where still on and being

near the speaker, I could just hear a quiet Simon mournfully apologising

profusely to Trev for coming off stage, but that he just couldn’t work with

that reaction. Indeed if I’d have been Lee Mack who was reluctantly coaxed

back on, I’d have just gone on stage and said "Fuck you" and walked

off, although that would make things worse really for the majority who had

already seen the main act removed from stage. Sadly the majority as usual, got

punished by the majority. Lee’s attitude of taking on the hecklers, calling

them at one stage "miserable bastards" summed up what no doubt many

in the audience were thinking.

And yes it was a minority. Sitting at the front, you could hear people

trying to shut the hecklers up in the background. I wouldn’t say that Trev and

Simon had the rest of the crowd eating out of their hands – having been on for

a matter of minutes, its probably true to say that most of the audience were

still giving them a chance to see how it went.

The abuse, a MC trying to calm the crowd, and the return of Lee Mack, still

didn’t sort things out – obviously. Despite his hard work, Lee was pretty fed

up, shaking at one point. The evening had gone very sour sour. He had the

misfortune to be stuck with an audience who didn’t really want him to be

there, and to find himself stuck with no real prepared material (he winged it

very well).

In the end we left about 10 minutes before the end. The mood had gone, what

had started off being a great night, ruined. The main act who I had

essentially paid £12 for, were on stage for about 10 minutes.

Now thankfully for the value for money stakes, Lee Mack and Gina Yashere

were very good and it would have been worth paying £12 to see them alone, but

the people I wanted to see I was deprived of doing by a complete bunch of


Because what I hate about hecklers most is this: silence is far more

meaningful to a comedian than you’re STUPID IDIOTIC SEMI-ILLITERATE THOUGHTS.

If a comedian isn’t working then the silence from the majority will reveal

this – this is when as a heckler you might actually get a response. But no,

hecklers are too clever for silence. After all silence doesn’t mean they get

the limelight.

If a comedian isn’t good, silence will get them off stage. Heckling stands

the chance that they redeem themselves and get it all on track.

Whether Trev and Simon’s set was any good, and whether it deserved silence

or raptous applause, I may never know. The duo were trying out some of the

material for their new show in Edinburgh. I hope that their night headlining

the Ealing Comedy Festival isn’t representative of their time in Edinburgh.

The duo have worked on the live scene for many years, and I’m sure all great

comedians have bad audiences sometimes.

In the unlikely event that Trev and Simon ever read this, I’d like to say

that not all the audience were against you. There were people like myself who

genuinely wanted to see you. There was the bulk of the audience who if we’re

fair, could have gone either way but were giving you a chance. And then there

were the prats who from the start and for no real reason, spoilt it for the

rest of us.

All I can hope is that they stay home for Harry Hill on Thursday…

1 Comment

  • Nick says:

    I was there, all those years ago. I have to say, I agree 100% with your comments – an annoying vocal minority. Not sure whatever happened to Trevor and Simon, but let’s hope they got over it…