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Sunday 19th October 2008

Instead of watching Sarah Silverman doing 45 minutes for £50 at ticket tonight you could have popped into the Frog and Bucket in Manchester and seen me do 70 minutes and then Brendon Burns do well over 90 minutes for a fraction of the cost and seen some truly offensive subjects discussed with wit and intelligence. Neither of us are quite as cute as Silverman, but nor did anyone shout at us that we were overhyped. I would still have loved to see her show and I think she's a terrific comedian, but there is value in the unhyped I guess. I don't know what I'm trying to say really. Maybe just that it would be cool to play the Hammersmith Apollo and it's a shame to get to do something like that and then short change people. I hope that one day I might get to play that venue (it's only a short walk from my house, unlike the Frog which is fucking miles away) and if I had the opportunity I don't think I'd waste it like that. Or maybe if I was that successful I just wouldn't care and would merely be thinking of all the money I'd be getting from the £175,000 or so taken on the door. Journalists would have us believe that Steve Coogan and the Mighty Boosh are doing similarly lazy shows, so maybe it's just something that comes with success and having your time and skills spread too thin. But much as I love playing to thirty people above a pub or like tonight 250 discerning and comedy literate people in a top club, I am not one of these comics who thinks that loads of people liking you and wanting to come and see you is a bad thing, provided you don't start tailoring your stuff for what you imagine would be "populist". And it's possible to attract a crowd and do great stuff. I saw Billy Connolly in the same theatre that Silverman played and he delivered well over two hours of brilliant stand up and no one left the place feeling disappointed. I am sure that the 3500+ people who saw Silverman were a discerning and "hip" crowd. What a shame to waste such an opportunity. I won't do that if I ever get the chance.
Anyway I had a cracking time in Manchester (I'll be back on my tour in the Spring - dates will be announced soon - so book early next time you idiots who thought you'd be able to get in on the day!) and it was fun to see Brendon who I have never seen do a full set before. I liked his joke about the only human being from our century that anyone will know about in five thousand years time will be Hitler and the only one who anyone will know about in a billion years time will be some tourist who leant over and fell into a tar pit. No one else laughed at that. But it was his best joke. I think he thought so too, but at times it is better than only one person appreciates something properly than everyone gets it just a bit. I like doing those jokes that I love but that only one person laughs at. In some ways that one person's laugh is better than the times when everyone is laughing. But not if there aren't points when everyone is laughing. If just one person laughs all the way through the show, then that isn't so much fun. For either the comic or the one person laughing.
I have been put up in a seedy hotel in the middle of town. Usually they put me up in the superstitious Travlodge when I am here. Although this is basic I kind of prefer it to the hotel I am in tonight, which has pretensions of being classy, but which is run down and widely acknowledged locally as a bit of a knocking shop. Stewart Lee and me stayed here years ago a few times when we used to occasionally appear on Mark and Lard's late night radio show and I vaguely recall some incident when one or other of us was at the bar downstairs chatting to some woman who seemed quite keen, only to have to be told by someone less green at the gills that the lady in question was hoping to get paid for any sexual favours she might be giving out.
You can tell that it isn't as salubrious a place as they would like you to believe by the fact that they expect payment up front for the rooms and if you are coming in after 11pm they won't let you in unless you show your room card. A raggedly looking middle aged woman tried to follow me in as I came back after a post-gig Chinese with Burnsy (is this what regular comics always do? Post gig Chinese food? Second time in a week).
Also the long corridors of the possibly once impressive and imperious hotel are, not unusually, decorated with paintings and prints, but, more unusually, on my floor I went past three copies of the same picture. You'd think they could at least get enough different paintings to not repeat on the same floor, but clearly they had just purchased some job lot of cheap framed tat and thought, "Fuck it, it's not like any of the punters or their prostitutes will be taking time out to look at the art." But long corridors with repeated pictures gives one the impression that one is starring in a cheap Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the mid-1970s.
When I had come back to drop off my stuff before the Chinese, a bleary-eyed young man was walking stiltedly up the corridor, like he had just been loitering around and then had heard me coming, so had pretended he was going somewhere. I don't know what he was waiting for. Perhaps, drunk and alone he was just hoping he might happen to meet a woman in the passageway. Chances are she'd be up for being paid for sex.
When I'd dumped my stuff I walked back past the same corridor and as I went by one room the door opened slightly and it was the same guy, now returned to his room, despite the pretence he had made of heading towards the reception. He had heard my footsteps and presumably was looking out to see who I was and (I am guessing from the weird vibe that was in the air) whether he might be able to have sex with me. If this was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon then things had taken a distinctly dark and edgy tone. But I had a feeling that if I hung around too long I might end up being chased down the impossibly long corridor, passing by the same picture and vase of flowers over and over again.
Luckily on my return, although the floorboards creaked, the troll did not rouse from his lair. I think he might have passed out in the interim. Or maybe he got lucky.
Thankfully I remained unlucky and untroubled by the skanky whores of Manchester, as I am staying in the smallest and saddest room, right in the darkest corner of the hotel and I just have a small single bed, with barely room for me, let alone some filthy prossie or lurking predatory man.
I wonder if Sarah Silverman's accommodation was so humble. But if I had the choice between sleeping here after giving 250 people value for money (I think tickets to my show were only about £6, so that was easier to provide) or sleeping in a king size bed in the Ritz full of high class escorts who look like Billie Piper after disappointing 3,500 people I think we all know which one I would choose.
Don't we?

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