There’s no calling it on this tour. After a few smallish gigs in places I didn’t really expect to do well, suddenly a 300+ sized crowd in Hertford. I don’t know what has prompted people in this smallish town to come out to see me in such numbers, perhaps the knowledge that but for the vendors pulling out of the sale, I would have been living locally. We could have been friends, I told them, but instead I have moved to Hitchin and so we are bitter enemies.
After the show I saw a man lurking by the table where I sign and sell stuff. He wasn’t in the queue like everyone else, but was hovering there so I thought I’d see what he wanted. “I hear you are playing Bradford,” he told me. “No,” I said, “I was in Barnsley a couple of days ago, so maybe that was it.” “No, I heard you were playing Bradford,” he continued. “Not that I know of,” I replied, trying to be as helpful as possible to this seemingly confused man as possible, “I am doing the Great Yorkshire Fringe in July.”
“No, no, it was definitely Bradford that I heard you were playing,” he persisted. “Well you heard wrong, I am afraid” I said, trying to be polite as possible. I didn’t know why a man in Hertford was so worried about this, but didn’t want to be rude to him, even if he felt he was important enough not to have to queue up with everyone else.
“I heard you were playing Bradford with your show about the Koran!”
And boy did he look pleased with himself about this one, in spite of the tortuous lead up to the punchline and the fact that I had been trying to be so helpful.
I was annoyed because he had wasted my time and was keeping other people waiting. If he’d just asked, “Why don’t you do jokes about Muslims?” I would have been happy to answer him, but it was the convoluted way he’d got there and the smug look on his face, as if he’d somehow exposed some kind of hypocrisy.
It’s true I had done a routine about the New Testament, and not one about the Koran, but I had started that routine by explaining that I had had a Christian upbringing. I was talking about what I knew. “The problem with that” I explained (ignoring the weird way he’d phrased it and the slightly prejudiced assumption that people in Bradford would be more upset about that than anywhere else), “is that I don’t really know very much about the Koran and nor do the people who come and see me, so it’s pretty hard to joke about something that neither you or your audience have any shared experience of, beyond a few cliches about 72 Virgins. And although this routine is specifically from the New Testament, it is about people who are central to the Jewish and also (as far as I know, I’ve never read the Koran) feature in Islam too. And my points about my dislike of religion are aimed at all the religions, including Islam. I am not afraid to make jokes about any religion (and from the experience of my audiences and the protests I have had, I think I am much more likely to be harmed by an unhinged Christian who doesn’t understand his own religion than an unhinged Muslim who doesn’t understand his religion.
I am always happy to debate it though and had a brief go at this, but really wanted to punch the smug faced man for the irritating way that he’d made his point (and then seen if he had the courage of his convictions to turn the other cheek so I could punch him again).
He did make me glad that I hadn’t moved to Hertford though, but didn’t spoil the night. It had been a really enjoyable gig.
Indeed I was too hyper by the time I got home (imagine how quick the journey could have been) that I stayed up drinking bourbon and eating some of my daughter’s Easter egg. This was a poor end to a day where I had resolved to give up chocolate and alcohol, but I had fun tweeting whilst mildly pissed. Even if I knew that the mildly hungover me who would be waking up in 5 hours to look after my daughter would be less pleased with this decision.
People try to convince you that drinking alcohol is a social activity. But it is never more fun than late at night, along, in a basement, whilst stealing a baby’s sweets. We should all drink alone. That is what I learned today.