Settlers Tavern owner Rob Gough has clarified events that led to comedian Steve Hughes abandoning the stage at last week’s comedy show.
In a statement released to the Mail, Mr Gough expressed his disappointment and regret at how the evening unfolded, with a member of the audience taunting Hughes mercilessly until he decided to end his act.
“If you were at the show, you know that Rhys Nicholson and Steve Hughes are both top talents, and we were very fortunate to attract them to Margaret River,” Mr Gough said.
“Whoever the heckler was that offended Steve, will not be welcomed back to Settlers Tavern, and words to describe my feelings are not fit for these pages.”
Mr Gough said that while he was at the show, he could not hear the heckler nor did the MC or Mr Hughes indicate the matter was about to escalate.
“Those who were close up would have likely had a clearer view; It was an unfortunate situation for which we were absolutely mortified.”
While hecklers are a common annoyance for comedians, Mr Gough said other factors could have contributed to Hughes’ departure.
“We are all human, and being heckled can be a demoralising experience for all of us; Even a seasoned professional comedian.
“And maybe especially so for someone who bares their soul in public.”
Social media discussion of the incident saw a number of complaints directed at the Tavern and staff for a failure to remove the offending patrons, claims which Mr Gough rejects.
“Those of you who know us, know that we take our business to heart, and that you all are the very reason we are here.
“The responsible service of alcohol is a top priority for us and we do not condone or permit offensive, or abusive behaviour on our premises.
“This is something we work hard to get right, but despite our best efforts, the conduct of some individuals cannot be predicted.
“On this occasion, it all happened very quickly and there was no option to recover Steve to the stage.”
People who attended the September 15 show are being encouraged to attend the Tavern’s upcoming Margaret River Primary Battle of the Bands event, where local children perform to raise money for the school’s music education program.
“For those who attend, and bring their Oztix ticket receipt from the comedy show, Settlers Tavern will donate the value of your receipt to the MRPS Music Program,” Mr Gough said.
The bi-annual fundraiser will be held at Settlers Tavern on Wednesday October 26 and features rock bands formed within the school using equipment purchased through the program.