If you throw one more thing at me…

Warning – there be some swearing in this one.


Amy Winehouse has reminded me that I did once really loose it on stage. I didn’t punch anybody but I did… I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was performing at the London comedy club called the Acton Banana. Unlike the excellent Balham Banana, the Acton club was a thrown together affair. The stage was a stacking plinth with a bit of plywood tacked on and the lights were two Anglepoise lamps mounted on mike stands on either side of the stage. The front row table began where the comedian’s toes ended – it was a tight club.

I had just finished performing a rope trick when somebody threw something at me. The lights were so close and bright that I didn’t see it coming until it was inches from my face. I ducked out of the way in very uncool fashion. Quickly I realised that what had been thrown was the knot that had popped off of my rope in the previous trick and that it was thrown by the guy sitting directly in front of me. I picked up the knot, placed it onto his table and said, “Don’t throw things at me.”

Now, I can take any kind of verbal abuse on stage but if somebody throws something, then either the thrower goes, or I go. That’s not just me, that’s pretty much everybody’s rule. I was once hit in the head with a glass ashtray, when the word got out, none of the comics would work that club and it eventually closed. Luckily projectiles are rare. In my 20 or so years I’ve only been a target a handful of times – but that’s enough.

Since what this guy had thrown was technically something I had thrown at him, I continued with my show. Then the guy threw the knot at me again. I stopped and without any humour, forcefully said, “Do not throw things at me.” I couldn’t have been plainer.

I continued with my act and then this asshole, who was no more than three feet away, balled up a damp napkin and bounced it off my forehead. I lost it. With all of my might, I threw at this guy what at that moment was in my right hand. I threw it so hard I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. If I had been juggling at the time I would have killed him, fortunately I had a balled up crisp packet in my hand.

I screamed, “IF YOU THROW ONE MORE THING AT ME I’M GOING TO…..” The closer I got to the end of that sentence the more I wondered, What am I going to do to him? Punch him? Then I saw the three full pints of beer on his table.

“If you throw one more thing at me I’m going to pour a pint of beer on your head.”

The person sitting next to him pushed his beer towards me. He obviously knew this guy and knew what was going to happen next. The asshole balled up another paper napkin and flicked it at me.

What could I do? I had pretty much publically issued a legally binding contract. I picked up the pint and doused the contents directly in his face.

Let me tell you – there is a lot of liquid in a pint. He was instantly drenched. He reached for a beer to send my way but before he could, I picked up the lead based microphone stand and pushed it into his chest. As I pinned him into the lap of the poor person sitting behind him I hissed, “Don’t even fucking think about it.”

Like a sheriff waiting for a gunslinger to re-holster his gun, I waited for his hand to pull back from the table, before I let him up. I looked and saw 200 audience members staring at me wide-eyed and there wasn’t a closed mouth in the room.

In the dressing room I packed my stuff. I fully expected not to be paid and never to get booked by the promoter Dave again. As I tried to sneak out Dave caught me by the arm and handed me my fee.

“Aren’t you mad at me?” I asked.

“Mad?” he said. “I thought it was great. Leave it in the act.”

6 Responses to “If you throw one more thing at me…”

  1. osirisoflight Says:

    john you are such a badass

  2. johnlenahan Says:


  3. osirisoflight Says:

    Is there any chance you will be doing shows in the US?

  4. johnlenahan Says:

    What osirisoflight – you want a piece of me?

    No prospect of a US tour. Maybe if an American publisher picks up Shadowmagic then I could combine a book signing with some shows. But no chance of that in the near future.

  5. osirisoflight Says:

    No I don’t want a piece… you could porbably take me with an arm behind your back. I just think it is a shame that i can only see clips of your shows on youtube. regardless it is great stuff.

  6. sam Says:

    I really hope an American publisher picks up Shadowmaggic, it was really great, and I, too, would love to see your show.

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