It was my second preview tonight in Kingston. I don't think I have ever visited this town (is it a town or just a part of London?) without getting stuck in it's ridiculous spiralling figure of eight one way system. However many times I drive there it always catches me out. Coupled with the fact that all the roads near to the pub I was heading to were permit only parking until 10.30pm I had to go round twice before I found a place to park in Sainsburys car park.
I was slightly concerned about doing a show about death in a comedy gig in a pub on a Friday night. But luckily the audience were mainly quite attentive and engaged and didn't seem to mind the unsettling nature of some of the content. One of the routines really hit home and got massive laughs, which is encouraging and at the early stage I think I have two pretty strong routines, plus some interesting extras. It's not enough for an hour show (and in my 55 mins on stage I think I maybe only did 20 minutes of new stuff - it felt only fair to give them some honed old material to counterbalance the stuff I was stumbling through), but if I can come up with one good new bit every preview then I should easily have enough by August. And every bit I discover that brings about belly laughs convinces me that a show about doesn't have to be too solemn or scary. So it was a good step forward, even if there is a lot of work to do.
During one of the old bits (the Ferrero Rocher routine) I got heckled by a guy who said that the solution to the exponential chocolate nightmare that I had found myself in was to buy my wife a dildo. I was pleased that I managed to pitch my response correctly - sometimes it's easy to be too dismissive or aggressive to a heckler, but in this case I thanked him for his advice, but said that I couldn't really see how a dildo would help me get out of buying my wife Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I said that a dildo would be a great solution if my problem was having a small or unerect penis, but that wasn't my problem. I told him that might be a good solution to his own problem, but just because that had worked in one situation it wasn't going to help everyone who had a problem. I was grateful for him for suggesting it, but my problem was having to buy an exponential number of chocolates and a dildo couldn't help with that.
It went on for some time, with the man trying to interject and me responding politely, but crushingly. He said "if she had a dildo she wouldn't care about the chocolates." But that made me think that he was speaking from experience and that maybe he preferred having a dildo up his arse to eating Ferrero Rochers, but again what was true for him wasn't true for everyone. I told him that I personally clearly much preferred chocolate to anal invasion, but again I was glad that solution worked for him. He just shouldn't assume that it would work for everyone. I left a nice image of him with his tiny cock and his gaping anus and yet managed to do so in a way that didn't humiliate him, but took on board his suggestions and made something new out of it. It's rare that heckles work this way, but it was a fun and exciting diversion and it felt good to be back in a club, sparring off the audience, making stuff up on the spur of the moment that was working. None of it is any use for the new show, but hopefully it augurs well for when I have a bit more material.
On the drive home, mercifully avoiding the race track of Kingston town centre the news came on and the newsreader said in the sombre tone reserved for bad news, "The actor Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the TV series Blackadder...." My mind was already jumping to the inevitable conclusion. As a fan of comedy and archaeology I was already a bit stunned. What had happened to him? But the newsreader went on, "And the singer Adele...." What the fuck? They've both died. Together? Who would have thought they knew each other? Were they carrying out a secret and unlikely tryst in a hotel room and had succumbed to carbon monoxide fumes? Had they been in a plane crash. Within the moments this sentence was taking to read I had constructed all kinds of improbable and awful scenarios. But it turned out they'd both been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
But the newsreader had used the wrong tone of voice. The solemn and sad voice, rather than the light and happy one. Also the past tense of having played Baldrick, though accurate, gave a real indication that he was no longer with us. Had the newsreader not checked his script beforehand and made the assumption that he was revealing a death (or a double suicide pact) or was he just dicking with us. It gave me a real shock. Read the news properly you cockhole. I don't even really like Tony Robinson or Adele that much, but I don't want to be made to think that they've been ripped from us unexpectedly. Use the right tone of voice in future.
I can finally reveal the news that I haven't been able to confirm for what seems like months, but one of my guests for the RHLSTP on 24th June will be the director behind Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim and the World's End, Edgar Wright. There will be another guest TBC that night too (meaning another double record and thus even better value for your series video pass). Get your tickets here