A long drive to the environs of Hereford today to appear for thirty minutes at the Nostock Festival before getting back in the car and driving home again. It’s another of Herring’s Laws that any Festival which I choose to spend time at will be disappointing, whereas any that I am in and out like a thief in the night will like I should have spent the weekend there. It was lovely and sunny and the crowd looked blissed out (must have been the sunshine) and like they were having fun. But like the square and fraud that I am (and I was waiting to be called out on stage, but I seemed to get away with it) I was just here to do a job and go home. It was an eight hour day, for thirty minutes work, which is a strange way to make a living. But I had fun for the brief time I was there.
I was following the wonderfully drunk and half-arsed Bob Slayer, who turns his life into an art form and felt to me like exactly the kind of act you want at a festival. A beardy shouting man, reading the Hungry Caterpillar whilst getting a member of the audience to act out the part of the eponymous hero whilst encased in a green sleeping bag. How do you follow that? Things were running a bit late and I wondered if any of the mildly stoned crowd might have come in and mistaken this beardy and rotund drunkard for me and had all their expectations of their “Where Are They Now?” prejudices confirmed. Yet I was standing watching him and wishing that I was him. Because I feared my blend of pedantry and swearing would be totally the wrong thing for this family/drug addled crowd.
I was looked after well by the backstage team, even though I feared I might be late as I couldn’t get on to the site for half an hour because an ambulance was bringing some unfortunate festival goer off the site. But I had a nicer dressing room than I would get at most theatres. My next door neighbour was a polite man with a beard who turned out to be a musician and a few doors down there were some other guys who looked very hard and intimidating and I guessed were rappers from America somewhere who I didn’t say hello to. But maybe I should have.
The gig itself was fine. I tried to address the fact that there were kids in there by explaining that no concessions would be made, beyond me doing my poo on stilts joke at the start. There was a wide-eyed and angelic looking boy of no more than four years old who was sitting cross-legged on the front row. I talked to him a little bit about what he was about to see. He quite like the poo joke. I would chat with him every now and again and apologised for calling him sexual excrement in my routine about kids. He seemed OK with it. I then tried out my other joke for kids, or at least one that sounds like it’s for kids though it depends on an understanding of biology that is beyond most adults: “Where does a bird leave its sexual organs when it goes to a night club? In the cloaca room.” The boy pretended to laugh, but didn’t get it, clearly not knowing that a bird’s sexual organs are called a cloaca and almost certainly having no idea what a cloak room is anyway. “You can’t know what a cloak room is. Where do you leave your cloak?” I asked him.”In my mummy’s bedroom” he replied. Which is now my all time favourite heckle I have received. It brought the house down.
Later I asked him who was funnier, me or Mr Tumble. He didn’t even have to think about it. It was Mr Tumble. A child of this age has no need or understanding of social niceties. He loved Mr Tumble. So I did my impression of Mr Tumble by going to have a drink and then throwing water all over myself. Which to be fair, although derivative of the great Justin, did go down very well with the pre-school demographic. Maybe I have a child friendly act after all. Though I did make some unfair and unprovable accusations about Justin that went down well with the adult crowd.
It was a fun half hour and no one spotted that I was a phoney and a fraud and a non-festival square.I smiled at the rappers as I went past, but I don’t think they were podcast fans and didn’t acknowledge me. I got in my car and drove home. Working 3-11, (though mainly 7.30-8) what a way to make a living.
Oooh and there's a slight chance that we might have three guests on RHLSTP on Monday. Someone who has been involved in some of the biggest comedy hits of the last 25 years is flying in from LA on Monday morning and if he's not too jet-lagged might pop in for a quick chat. Worth taking a gamble I think, as you'll be annoyed if you miss it and the two guests I have already are bostin'. Details are on this facebook events page. Support us if you can.