Comedy for Two Please

I have very little to do today. I am ignoring my show that I have to write, general other writing stuff, annoying promoters for gigs, and doing the much overdue washing up that is piling up quicker than a crash on the M25. Other than all that stuff, that loads and loads of stuff, I have very little to do today. I can see that for my own benefit I should use this non-gigging time wisely but I really want a weekend, so might use today to rest up. I’m not very good at just resting, as I start to get guilty about all the things I’m not doing. I’m conscious that this is what I do, so to counter-act it I have made a small list to keep me thinking I am productive. Number one was ‘make a cup of tea’. This has been done. Number two is this blog. After that, I am overachieving. I like it when I know how to mess with my own OCD tendencies.

A change from the usual stand-up gigs I did Anthology last night, a storytelling show in Stoke Newington. I always book these sort of things in as a bit of a self challenge. Telling stories requires a different ability than doing stand-up. I’m never sure that I have any interesting stories to tell. I don’t tend to do daring things like climbing mountains or extreme shark fighting, because I like living. That and I’m a wuss. Also my social life has died since doing stand-up so I struggle to remember any particularly interesting tales that aren’t about gigs. Even when I do think of one I manage to convince myself it wouldn’t be that interesting to anyone else. So I spent a long time wondering what to do. If all else failed I was just going to read ‘The Tiger That Came To Tea’ out loud. I had been informed that it had to be a true story, but if it had come to it, I would’ve gone to the zoo with said caffeinated beverage and tried to coax one for the sake of the show. To be fair that would have made a good story in itself. Unless the tiger had eaten my face off. Still then I could have been the storytelling man with no face and I definitely would’ve got on This Morning with a tale like that.

We had visited Layla’s parents earlier in the day as her dad had been back in hospital, which meant more near flashes and overly graphic explanations of his inability to pee. My turn away reflexes and ability to pretend I had a text were more heightened than usual as I had expected such lack of boundaries this time. As a reward for getting through the whole afternoon avoiding extra dad flesh viewings we told weight watchers to piss off and had a dinner of one krispy kreme donut each. It was both great and satisfyingly unfilling, so I left the house feeling once again almost visually scarred and now hungry too.

I arrived early at the venue to a room that apart from host and storyteller extraordinaire Andrew J Lederer, was empty. I know that Anthology has been doing fairly well and has had some great reviews and articles because of how nice a night it is. We both sat and waited and Andrew very calmly assumed that as it had done well for 9 weeks in a row, inevitably there would be one quiet one. There were sounds on the stairs, which got us both excited until we realised it was just the other acts, now leaving five of us sitting there waiting for a crowd. Eventually two women arrived. They seemed to be fairly keen but looked slightly perturbed by the lack of anyone else. They said they would go and get drinks and be back up, which we thought was a lie but lo and behold, they came back up, eager to hear some yarns.

Christina and Daisy were their names and they sat in a big sofa at the side of the room and Andrew pulled up a big armchair opposite them and started the show. I was worried this would be awkward. Two people is never enough for a comedy gig. If anything it makes the audience feel very isolated and the acts feel like they can’t really get the response they want. It’s not the same for storytelling though and oddly it created a perfect sort of atmosphere. All we really needed was a fire and that dog from Jim Henson’s the Storyteller. To be fair John Hurt would have been a bonus too, but the gig was already overbooked act wise so he’d have had to just watch. Andrew told stories about his lack of hygiene which, while making the girls sit slightly further back in their chairs, were very funny and interesting. These were followed by an ace tale about Paco Pena from Paul Ricketts, a clown leg tattoo from Claire Stroud and nearly dying in a New York cab from Karen O.Novak. This was occasionally interrupted by comments from the ‘crowd’ including a bit about a tattoo Christina had given herself because she’s a rock chick and Daisy’s story about tramps getting free hotdogs from Lidl’s. I sat and listened the whole way through having forgotten how nice it is having stories told to you. I started to wonder how annoyed Layla would be if I woke her up when I got home and demanded a bed time read through of the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Then it was my turn and I started by blabbing on about how me and my family had also encountered a psychopathic taxi driver in New York, followed by a story about my dad upsetting the mormons in Salt Lake City, a moment that I will be proud of him for forever. Then the main bit was my retelling of that horrible gig in Epsom only a few Saturdays ago. It felt almost cathartic saying just how shitty but funny it all was and it got some nice responses from the two audience members. There was something very refreshing about not aiming to finish things with a joke but getting some laughs anyway. Maybe I should try this in stand-up, or realistically maybe not. Andrew quipped at the end that the show was more like how a private gig should go rather than the Epsom shitstorm. He was right.

The possibly awkward night got slightly more possibly awkward when I happened to say that I had been a lazy arse and driven from around the corner in Finsbury Park which led to both the girls asking me for a lift home as they lived near me. This seemed a bit odd as although they were both nice and it was all a very much innocent offer I couldn’t help but wonder what Layla’s response would be to ‘I just gave two girls I don’t know a lift home’. I hadn’t offered, they had asked which let me off the ‘creepy’ hook. They were very nice and we spent the whole short journey back arguing about favourite famous stand-ups. Daisy was insistant that Ross Noble is the only proper stand-up as he improvises everything. Now, I like Ross and think he’s a master of the arts, but this statement made me get on my high shetland pony and argue with them all the way to Manor House. In a nice way though. It made me feel less like a ‘two ladies lothario’ and more like an opinionated cabbie. Although to be fair all cabbies are opinionated. Just mostly with the wrong opinions. They are both coming to Edinburgh and said they will come and see my show. I am tempted to offer more audience members lifts and argue with them in the hope I will sell out in Edinburgh if I do it enough.

I got home and told Layla that I had driven two girls home that I didn’t know and she didn’t even flinch. I’m hoping that was out of trust and not because she thinks I am not capable of wooing ladies on such a level. She would be right on both accounts which is both good and rather sad.

Right, number two is done. Now for number three – stop making lists and go back to bed. I like today.