Last week was a pretty good one for me. I had a few minutes of material broadcast in the Radio Scotland pilot Wired News, did some more work on my writing commission for this Hogmanay’s Only An Excuse on BBC1 Scotland and I headline the weekend at the Beehive Inn Comedy Club in Edinburgh.
Anyone still harbouring the view that comedy is a glamorous occupation should have been at The Beehive on Saturday night for a reality check. Not because there’s anything unglamorous about the venue. It’s in the heart of Edinburgh, in the shadow of the castle and is a nice, well-run gig looked after by comedian Ben Verth (follow Ben on Twitter, @BenVerth) and compered by Rick Molland (@rickmolland). It runs every Friday and Saturday and features top comedians from the Scottish circuit and beyond. (Check out http://www.beehivecomedyclub.com for more details)
What made last Saturday night stand out was that I encountered a situation which I hadn’t previously come across in fifteen years of doing stand-up comedy. What was that situation you wonder? A Hollywood agent being in the crowd and wanting to sign me up? Alesha Dixon making an unexpected trip to Edinburgh to beseech me to leave my wife? Perhaps Ally McCoist trying to convince me to move on from comedy and throw my 34 year-old body into the fray of Scottish League One, playing in a roving free-role with no tracking back (or indeed, any running at all) required?
No. None of those things transpired.
What happened was that I was standing onstage and seemed to be having a perfectly alright gig, when I heard a fuss. I tried to ignore it at first, but the muttering and mumbling grew louder and I looked up to see a blonde lady in the back row, sporting a face like thunder and angrily repeating the word ‘disgusting’. To be honest, it could have applied to the joke I’d just told or to the one before that. Or to the one before that. And so on.
I was more concerned that it was also going to apply to every one I was intending to tell thereafter and that I didn’t want a decent gig to be dragged down by one person hating it. I could see the problem. She was pretty much at the end of the row, trapped in the corner, with about eight people between her and an escape from the wordplay of a twisted mind. I decided to free her from the gig and the gig from her negativity.
“Madam, you look really p*ssed off. I can see that you’re trapped, it’s cool just to get those people to stand up and let you out so that you can f**k off and not have to be subjected to me.”
At this point, one of the rest of her party interjected.
“It’s not you. He’s just dropped one.”
He indicated the woman’s boyfriend, who was wearing a beaming grin of what I can only describe as ‘guff-pride’. His better (and certainly more fragrant) half was busy trying not to gag. She opted to stay in place for the rest of my set, so I must have been doing well enough to make it worthwhile enduring a biological weapon onslaught for.
The group in question were enjoying a relaxing a weekend city-break. From Burnley. Having been told before going on that there were people in from Burnley, the football-obsessed part of my brain had kicked in and I’d looked up their result that day in case the topic cropped up. They’d beaten Championship rivals QPR 2-0, to move clear at the top of the table. The post-match comments of boss Sean Dyche has made an impression on me. He’d praised his team’s “effervescence”. I can tell him that the effervescence of Burnley made it as far as Edinburgh that day…
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