Not In Their League

There are very few people in the world who make me feel a bit like a nervous idiot fan. Most of them are music based, generally because if you put me near an instrument, I’ll spend 5 minutes trying to work out how I’d hit someone with it, 5 minutes trying to blow into it, even if its a string instrument, then eventually give up and lean it against something that will cause it 3 minutes later to fall over and break. Even if its a grand piano. I am very bad with instruments, reaching only being able to play the ’12 Bar Blues’ in guitar at school before realising I could shout and make people just as blue, so gave up. As a result this leaves me to see most people that can play instruments or make amazing music as some sort of being that has been bestowed with powers by the gods. But there are also a few people who’ve done certain things in the comedy or acting world that make them just amazing to me. It’s become less and less over the years because – and yes, I realise how arrogant this sounds – as I get better at what I do (the current scale ranges from being abhorrently terrible at the start to now being mediocre at best) I can see and understand how they do what they do and so it all becomes a bit less impressive.

Last night I accidentally sat opposite someone who I still hold in my ‘slightly in awe of books’ on the tube. It wasn’t intentional, but he was sitting in the quietest bit on the carriage and as I had just got back from four days of shows in rural Wales and then gigged in central London I was slightly less used to people than normal and as usual, very wary of Saturday night drunken ones in town. Rural Wales doesn’t allow you to encounter too many people at once. There are far too many hills, trees and rivers to get in the way of people and so, instead, you start to remember what space, peace and quiet feels like and then get the shocking discovery that you like it. I have noticed this before, having only recently been to Scandinavia where they have so few people they spend far too much of their lives being happy. It takes a while to figure out that that’s what it is. There general joyful disposition, their constant politeness and hospitality when they do meet people, their constant lack of need to be in a rush anywhere. Its because there isn’t anyone to get in their way and slow them down and they are far less likely to encounter a total bellend at any point in their day to make them realise that being nice to people is utterly futile. Whenever I am somewhere like this, such as in Wales this weekend, I immediately remember that having less people is a bloody brilliant thing, then I return to London and within days just return to grunting at idiots who stop walking right in front of me, and find it difficult to sleep unless there’s sufficient car noise outside or the sound of someone shouting about how they need to vomit after ‘that jagerbomb’. But after this Welsh excursion – which included a visit to Big Pit (an underground coal mine) just days after watching The Descent for the fifth time. Not wise – I was still a bit uneasy around idiots and so sat right at the end carriage.

Taking my seat, I noticed the man opposite was Reece Shearsmith, a man who, ever since seeing him say ‘Oh yeah I hadn’t thought of that!’ in a stupid accent in Spaced, was a hero of mine. League of Gentleman was nothing less than a masterpiece and many things he’s done since have been brilliant. But far worse than me being in awe of him, I once performed one of the worst Comedy Club 4 Kids gigs I’ve ever done in front of him about three years ago. He was there to see the son of a friend perform, and after I very briefly met him beforehand, I went on to host to complete silence, fluster all my words and generally wish I was dead. I didn’t get to speak to him again and that was that. So I hid my head in my book wondering if he remembered me at all and whether it would be a plus or minus point. I should have just said hello but I get funny about these things. If I was introduced in a professional capacity it would be fine, but out in the real world its just not. Case in point was Simon Amstell several years ago, who I saw walking along in the West End with Miquita Oliver from T4. I was with my brother and friend Mat and despite having gigged with Simon a few times, I assumed he wouldn’t say hello as I was just an open spot. So instead I chose to keep my head low and just make it all easier for everyone. Then as we passed he said hello and I looked like a rude twat. I have had a very similar experience with a few ‘named’ people in the past and generally have decided that outside of the comedy scene I like to be as inconspicuous as possible, so I’m sure they do too.

So I spent 25 minutes trying to read my book, occasionally looking at Reece Sheersmith while he spent 25 minutes looking at his iPod, trying not to notice the weird beardy idiot that he probably vaguely recognised from somewhere but was generally just fed up with. If I’d just said hello I could right now be working on some amazing horror comedy with him. Or be being invited to be in the next League Of Psychoville as a new character. Or, shuddering as he shook my hand saying ‘oh yeah, you were that really shit host at Comedy Club 4 Kids that time weren’t you?’ Probably best I kept reading my book then. Sigh.

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