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On Thursday night, if you wanted to get into Hustle, you had to book in advance. If you wanted to get to the bar, you had to fight your way through a crowd. The club was filled to capacity, with tickets being completely sold out. The dancefloor was buzzing, the front room banging, and everyone was talking about just one thing – the Chuckle Brothers. A corner of the front room was cordoned off, with security guards and photographers in place for the club’s VIP guests. We arrived at the club around half eleven. By half twelve there was barely room to move. Then, by half two, the Chuckle Brothers were still nowhere in sight. Just as I’m starting to sober up, my friend turns to me and says “dude. I don’t think they’re coming.”
I didn’t want to believe him. I couldn’t believe him. We’d already come this far – we’d bought tickets, pre-drank, watched some vintage episodes of Chucklevision, caught a bus into town, and then in the club we’d waited hours for our childhood heroes to appear. It couldn’t have been for nothing. I said “they’ll come, dude, don’t worry”, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. The situation was getting desperate. The crowd became restless.
Suddenly there were screams. We snapped around to see what was happening. At the other side of the room, the crowd was parting. Two people were walking through, protected by an entourage of guards. As they came closer I stood on my toes to see. My heart skipped a beat. The Chuckle Brothers had arrived.
There’s Barry! He looks just like he does on TV. And look at Paul – he’s dressed like Neo from The Matrix.
Once the duo were safely in their corner the real chaos began. A wave of human bodies crushed us from behind. Everyone wanted to be close, to see the Chuckle Brothers in person. It was hard to stand upright, hard to breathe. On top of that, the thought of actually speaking to them was starting to make me nervous. What do I say? My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy. There was vomit on my sweater already (don’t forget, it’s Hustle). But there was no turning back now.
We watched one fan after another enter the enclosure. Each person stood in the middle, Paul and Barry grinned at the camera, there was a flash, a brief exchange of words, and then the visitor was ushered away by security. The operation was very slick, meaning it was only a matter of minutes before my friend and I found ourselves at the front of the queue, ready to enter the arena.
Unlike everyone else, though, we had a plan. We’d agreed on it before we came. We weren’t just going to get a regular picture with Paul and Barry – we were going to do a sick pose.
We go in. The Chuckle Brothers say hello (in unison, of course) and begin moving into their photo positions. My friend goes to Paul while I go to Barry. I pull Barry close, and whisper into his ear “Let’s do something a little different. Can we pose like Charlie’s Angels?”
Barry’s eyes light up. “Ooh, that sounds like fun”, he says. Barry loves a bit of fun.
We pose, the camera flashes, and a guard tries to move us on. I shake hands with Paul. I go to shake Barry’s hand – he gives me a hug. A tear comes to my eye.
Incredibly, Paul and Barry seemed as pleased to see us as we were to see them. They appeared genuinely excited to be in Hustle, surrounded by adoring fans. These are guys who’ve dedicated their lives to making kids laugh. Now the kids have grown up, but they haven’t forgotten their comedy heroes. That night in Hustle, there was nothing but love.
Whoever said you should never meet your heroes clearly didn’t have the right heroes. For the 30 seconds we got to interact with Paul and Barry, it was clear that they’re as warm, as gentle and as kind as they appear on TV. Our interaction was brief, sure, but it was well worth the wait.