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Monday 11th August 2008

"We Need Answers" should have been pure unadulterated fun. Hosted by Tim Keys, Mark Watson and Alex Horne, with me up against the delightful Kristen Schaal, answering questions that have been sent in to one of those text question services in front of an enthusiastic crowd. I was thoroughly looking forward to it, hopeful that I could win and progress to the next round, even though I appreciated that many of the questions would be silly and impossible to answer - eg How much would it cost to fill the Grand Canyon with Dairy Lea? - "Presumably," I replied, "You'd get some kind of discount for bulk purchase," before underestimating the answer by 194 billion pounds.
It should have all been terrific fun and it was in all but one sense. At the start of the show, we were brought on to stage and then had to get up on to massive high stools. I have very short legs and had on my tightest jeans and I forgot that I am 41 years old. I tried climbing up, to no effect other than good humoured laughter. I tried leap frogging on and nearly made it. Tim Keys tried to help me by tilting the chair. I had another go and somehow ended up smashing my rib cage heavily against the top of the stool. I thought I heard a crack, but there was certainly a dull thud and a groan from both me and the audience. Had I cracked a rib? It certainly hurt, but I was still walking around and abided by the adage that the show must go on and managed to get up on the stool finally despite my discomfort. But I had a dull ache in my side for the rest of the contest and it hurt whenever I laughed, which was often as everyone was being very funny. And I had to get down at one point to try and construct a child's tent whilst drinking a bottle of cider. It would have been a lot more fun if I hadn't been in constant pain, worrying that a fractured rib was about to burst my lung. But I guessed if it was anything that serious then I might have passed out.
The game was near impossible, but I managed to get a few of the factual questions right. Kristen was jet lagged and tired, but the audience loved her and were shouting out answers for her, so we went into the last round with me just one point ahead. In a rapid fire finale I answered the question "Heads or Tails" incorrectly - giving her a guaranteed correct answer and also thought there wasn't a pole at the North Pole, which again meant she was bound to get the points for saying there was and the squeaky voiced American pipped me at the post and I had to clump out of the arena in the clogs of shame.
I was quite pleased not to get through to the next round though, as I didn't want to negotiate that stool again. But on the down side I spent a sleep deprived night in a certain degree of pain. I think I have just pulled a muscle or something, but it hurts and is annoying because I have been doing so well at going to the gym and I am going to have to have at least a few days off.
Still Countdown at the Gilded Balloon tomorrow should be more sedate. Hopefully the pain will subside for my own show - tonight's I think was the most satisfying of the run and unbelievably for a Monday was almost sold out. I have done 12 performances and have 12 to go. Let's hope I am not forced to do them all clenching my teeth and trying to hide the pain.
I am too old for such tomfoolery. And this is just nature's way of punishing me for forgetting that I am too old to be larking around trying to propel myself on to tall stools.
But even though I will be taking no further part, I thoroughly recommend "We Need Answers". It should definitely be given a TV series. It's hilarious.
And genuinely dangerous.
I suspect a comedian might die there before the run is over.

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