Bookmark and Share

Friday 3rd June 2005

I had been forced to stay overnight in Lincoln. I had rushed around trying to hire a car, but that had all gone wrong and so I'd been forced to take the train. It got me there just in time for the gig, but there were no trains til the morning, so the people at the venue offered to find me a place to stay. This proved surprisingly difficult. Lincoln is a popular place on a Thursday night and there was apparently no room at the inn. But after the gig the venue manager told me he'd found a room above a pub which cost £20 a night. I can't remember the last time I paid so little for a room. It may have been when me and Stew stayed in a B&B in Glasgow in about 1994 and slept in twin beds which although separated were joined by a pink awning style headboard affair on the wall behind us.
I wasn't expecting much of my £20 accommodation, but then again I just needed somewhere to sleep and it was good that I wasn't going to be entirely bankrupted.
The gig had been an odd, but ultimately good one, on a similar kind of level to the one in Bracknell (though tonight went better generally). But people had been offended by the baby pie stuff again and a small proportion walked out. It made me think, "I wouldn't ever do this material again if someone came up to me afterwards and said, "I am quite offended by that, because you see, my baby was actually cooked in a pie and eaten. By a witch. So you can see it brings up bad memories." But I don't think this will ever happen. I wouldn't be surprised if the people who think this subject is not fit matter for comedy in a room full of adults, then go home and read the story of Hansel and Gretal (in which the same subject is treated, not in a humorous, but a scary way) to their three year old children, just before they are about to go to sleep in the dark. I could understand if any babies were in my audience that it might be scary. After all they are new to this world and to suddenly have a man talking about baking them in pies would be terrifying (though I would have to somehow mime the concept to them, or demonstrate with a doll what I was talking about, as they wouldn't understand otherwise). They would not have had the chance to develop a sense of humour and understand that my routine was a joke, unlike the people in the audience who have all had at least 18 years to live life and work out that when a man discusses such issues he might be employing irony or messing around, especially when they are told at the beginning of the night that this is supposedly a comedy event. I promise not to do the material if any babies are in though, just in case.
Anyway, some people weren't enjoying the gig, some were. There was a bit of heckling. I experimented with my tactic of launching into furious invective (whilst generally managing to control my temper in reality), which was funny again and which again swayed round any undecideds. I took the unusual step of asking the audience to cheer if they hated me, and then to cheer if they were enjoying the stuff. Though there was a minority of dissenters, I would say 80% of the crowd were behind me. I explained to the people who didn't like me that this was democracy in action. At the end there were big cheers again. It had been a theatrical event and the audience had been a part of it. It felt good not to have just tried to be a crowd-pleaser. Especially as a good proportion of the crowd seemed pleased enough about it all anyway.
I wasn't totally pleased with the way things had gone, but then again it had been exciting and I had succeeded in making people think, making people cross and ad-libbing my way through a tricky time. I also appreciated that the people I had been rude to or offended might want to beat my head in, but that is one of the risks of my profession. I couldn't jump in my car and escape and I decided not to skulk in the dressing room til everyone had gone. I am glad I went up front, because the responses were almost all positive and it confirmed to me that people had liked what they had seen. After several excited people had congratulated me, one bloke hilariously came up to me to shake my hand, but withdrew his own at the last minute and told me he thought I was a cunt. I was glad that he had thought it was worth hanging around afterwards to do this. I was also glad he had only used schoolyard humour and expletives to attack me. He was young and tall and looked like he could have destroyed me with a slap. I went to a bar afterwards and more audience members were in there, of all kinds of ages and again I got some very positive feedback, which made me think I was on the right track doing the more challenging and intelligent stuff.
I arrived at the pub just after midnight. Predictably it wasn't the poshest of places, but the people in the bar were friendly and the landlady showed me up to my room. It was rather tawdry and sad. There seemed to be a pasted up hole in the door, as if someone at some point had tried to kick it down and I noticed that although there was a lock, the door pretty much seemed to open if you pushed it hard enough anyway. It was certainly "no-frills", but I didn't care about that. I was glad to have somewhere to sleep. It did all feel a little bit like I was being cursed for the whole VW swearing incident. But I would take my punishment.
I put a small cabinet in front of the door, not so much to protect me, but to warn me if anyone attempted to enter my room. It was just a gesture, but it made me feel a little bit safer, though not much. I lay down and tried to sleep, but was filled with excitement about the way things had gone tonight and the possibilities that lie ahead for me now this avenue is open.
Also the man in the next room was snoring heavily. I found myself wondering who he was and what had brought him to this pub in Lincoln. In normal circumstances we would never have been sleeping partners (even though we were separated by a thin wall), but fate had intervened to bring us together and for him to keep me awake with his nocturnal respiratory problems (and if there was any justice, me to later keep him awake with my own). I knew that I would probably never get to see him or talk to him, that my only contact with this man in my lifetime would be through sound waves coming out of his throat and going into my ears, but I was still slightly intrigued. Not enough to go and kick in his door to find out (maybe that had been what had occurred in my room previously), but still enough to keep me awake. My best guess was that he was someone who was temporarily working in the town and needed the cheapest possible place to stay. But I am probably wrong. After all he was unlikely to guess by my snoring that I was a stand-up comedian who would usually be staying in £30-£40 accommodation, whose car had broken down and who had been punished by a garage for swearing at one of its female staff and then been messed around by a car hire company and (like Jesus) had no where to stay in town so had ended up in the humblest of dwellings.
There is no way of assessing someone from a snore. Let's face it, it might even have been a woman. Though somehow I feel that only men would stay in such a place.
I slept fitfully, woke up early and headed for the station. On the train I was filled with renewed excitement about what had happened last night and thinking of lots of routines about hecklers, religions and vagina-scaling trout.
I returned home to find a variety of opinions about the gig on my guestbook (as well as some emails telling me how I can reset my car's "service now" light myself Thanks for those, all). They were only the equivalent of the false hand-shaking bloke. They only made me feel that I was doing something right or at least interesting, which is often as good as being right.

Bookmark and Share



Buy my new book/ebook/audiobook "Would You Rather?" (get stickers and a signed bookplate from gfs. Also available as a very different audiobook with the brilliant Stevie Martin
Help us make more podcasts by becoming a badger You get loads of extras if you do.