Soooo…I was doing a gig just before Christmas in Wales. It was a rather long drive eased by the companionship of two other fellow comedians and comrades in arms. One, a very good friend of mine and the other I’d only met once or twice and didn’t really know too well but seemed like an affable chap. The return journey home through the lovely leafy rolling hills of Wales was going fine until we realised THERE ARE NO PETROL STATIONS IN WALES! A sweeping statement, I know but that night there were none. Apart from the occasional independent ones that would amusingly have the word ‘John’s’ emblazoned were you would ordinarily see the word ‘Texaco’ and alas, none were open. Oh John! Where were you when we needed you? 11pm on a Sunday night? Probably halfway through a Lynda La Plante ITV crime drama and a packet of Jammy Dodgers.
I don’t think the three of us will ever travel back from a gig with our knuckles and bums clenched quite so tightly before. It was tense. We had to constantly lean forward down the hills so not to needlessly use the accelerator. It felt like we were on the crappest roller coaster you’ve been on and I’ve been to Blackpool Pleasure beach where the only pleasure there seems to be garnered is in the other visitors misfortunes.
Halfway through the journey I was discussing musicals (A topic that calms me) with my friend when suddenly the other comedian excitedly exclaimed his lifelong love of them also. Now I’m sure the gent in question won’t mind my saying but he didn’t seem the type. When he isn’t doing comedy he is a taxi driver and looked more like the proud fan of boxing or rugby or some other manly thing like eating cement for a laugh rather than Fred Astaire. What I’m saying is he’s quite a stocky lad with very short hair and a scouse accent so thick you could spread it on a crumpet. But there he was exuding an enthusiasm for song and dance before suddenly launching into an absolutely magnificent rendition of “Street where you live” from ‘My Fair Lady’.
It was effing magical. One of those genuine joy-filled moments that come from a completely unexpected place. And as he hit his stride during the second verse I thought to myself, this, this is why I love people. I love it that people have the unfailing ability to surprise and show you up for being the narrow minded cotton-headed ninny-muggins that you can be.
Obviously people can surprise you in bad ways. A cheating spouse, a backstabbing friend but this particular blog isn’t for whinging about life’s bellends it’s to celebrate life’s belters! Those who take your preconceptions and kick it in the tits.
Like when I saw that group of swaggery and sweary teens in Tescos letting an elderly fellow go in front of them at the checkout. Or the time my friend’s car got smashed up and a stranger left a home made card on it’s windscreen lamenting the passing of the lovely automobile they had christened ‘Dolly’. Or the moment my ultra cool mate, confessed her undying love for Simply Red and we both almost wept over our mutual adoration of the track ‘Stars’. The fact this moment might as well have been sponsored by Jagerbombs doesn’t matter. It STILL counts!
The thing is we all; unfortunately make assumptions instantly about other people. And more often then not they are probably negative ones. All us ladies know that scene in Pretty Woman, the one when the beautiful wide mouthed lioness that is Julia Roberts gets chucked out of the posh shop by the snobby women for looking like a dirty Mare.
We’ve all mentally slow clapped the moment when wearing her big, expensive ‘fuck you’ hat, Julia breezes back into the shop the next day to take relish that those shoulder padded bitches made a “Big mistake! Big! HUGE!” Yes Julia! YES THEY DID! Oh Julia, I’ve learnt such an important moral lesson and I’ve learnt it by watching a Rom Com. God Bless you Julia Roberts! Although c’mon ladies be honest, if she’d walked into your branch of Bon Marche with that get up on, you may not have chucked her out but you’d have said horrible things about her very loudly whilst she was within earshot in that beautifully passive aggressive way that only a British woman can. I would absolutely love it if Theresa May got up in the Commons one day and started behaving like that. “I am not being funny, but ‘some’ people really do need to just mind their own business. And ‘Some’ people who have names that sound like insects shouldn’t even being trying to be prime Minister”. *Giggles* “Millapede!”
Just like you can never really anticipate what a person is going to be like, even one of the most fascinating but fear inducing things about being a stand up comedian is you can never really anticipate what an audience is going to be like. Sure, people may tell you that this gig is amazing, awful, alright but as the same with a person, you really can’t rely on these recommendations. But as I previously stated I am not using this blog to talk about the bellends at gigs. The gigs where I genuinely thought I’d be attacked or murdered but when I’d walked in had thought ‘Well this seems lovely!” So here, as John Cusack in ‘High Fidelity’ would say, are my top 5 favourite (good) surprising moments at gigs of all time.
1) When I worked behind the bar at The Comedy Store in Manchester, I remember watching a particular show where the front row of proper ‘lads on tour’ lads had been giving the comics grief all night. I knew a ventriloquist was about to come on and I felt like David Attenborough about to watch a gazelle being ripped apart by lions. That didn’t happen. They were like forgotten, broken action figures being played with for the first time in years and they roared their big dumpy faces off.
2)I was compering an Arts centre. There were nine people in the audience. Should have been more awkward than an IT graduate’s online dating profile but It was lovely. Especially the retired couple who could have stepped right out of a Saga holiday advert but were positively filth!
4) I supported the Puppetry of the penis on a few of their support tours. I am from a very Irish Catholic family. In fact every time I did the gigs I would tell my mum and dad I was staying at a friends house. I didn’t know what to expect from them to be honest. Thought perhaps I’d be stampeded by cock hungry women (on the Newcastle date I almost was) but they were a right laugh to do.
5) At a student gig in Leeds, A man who obviously wasn’t a student was there with his ridiculously attractive, Scandinavian girlfriend. It turned out they had met on the ‘World of war craft’ website. He was a warrior and she was a druid. Wonderful scenes.
Mostly listening to: Pearl and the Beard, particularly “Voice in my throat” as it makes me want to put on a pair of patent shoes and do a big twirl in a big skirt.
Mostly watching: Ally Mcbeal boxset. I can’t help it, it’s purely for John Cage. He should have had a spin off show like Fraser but called ‘Cagey’. The character reaches a level of eccentricity that even Helena Bonham Carter hasn’t yet peaked.
Put in my Face: The best chips I have ever tasted. I know, bold statement. I consider myself rather a chip connoisseur and the chips at The Stand Bistro in Newcastle are like little rectangles of crispy joy. Go! Scoff!
Belting audience member: Natasha at Red Raw in the Newcastle Stand. She confessed to me in the break (whilst gripping me like a ‘New Look’ clad anaconda) that she’d never been to comedy before. Oh Natasha, you were so enthusiastic and happy. Like a comedy newborn baby. A very, very pissed newborn baby. You laughed too loud, you said daft things and you offered to have sex with me in the disabled toilets. I salute