I am so shallow and pathetic, but if you haven’t picked that up after all this time, then you’re not paying attention.
I’d been nervous about returning to do a full on stand up set and also worried that the crowd might be too rowdy or drunk so I was not really looking forward to it. But the minute I stepped back on stage and was greeted with my first laugh, I was 100% back in. It felt amazing. The audience were impeccably behaved and not at all affronted by any of my racy material (except maybe me making light of having had cancer). I had told Catie about a couple of the jokes I’d been planning, especially this one "Yes, it’s me. The weird scruffy old man you’ve seen shuffling across the playground in the morning who looks like he might be homeless and is surely too ancient to have any kids at a primary school and you’ve wondered if you should call the police. It’s all right. It all makes sense. I’m in show business…. Your kids are safe.” She thought it might be too risqué to do too soon, but it went down very well. I vented some anger about the awful people of Harpenden and called them the c word (not cancer, the other one, though cancer is apparently more offensive) and got applause. It was going to be a great night.
Of course it was. The people of this small Hertfordshire town had a high-class stand up night laid on for them and were totally up for it. I found that the jokes I’d forgotten or only half-remembered came back to me, even bits that had slipped my mind as I went through them in the afternoon. I didn’t end up doing too much old material, but it was definitely the last outing ever for a couple of 25 year old jokes. And I decided to have one more crack at the Ferrero Rocher routine too, which also came back to me.
One joke was pretty much as fresh as possible though.
This afternoon I’d been on Rylan’s show on Radio 2 to promote the Taskmaster show next week. I was doing it remotely as there wouldn’t be time for me to get home again for the gig. My daughter was very excited to hear about it as she loves Radio 2 (things will change) and she wanted to join me and be on the interview. I told her that that wouldn’t be possible and she said it would be great and it could be like that time that someone’s kid turned up on an interview and embarrassed them. Surprisingly I wasn’t up for that. I said to her, “C’mon this is a big moment for me, Phoebe. If this goes well I could be back in the big time.”
“You’re already in the big time,” she said, without any sarcasm. It had seemed like an instinctive response. She actually thinks I am doing well. She’s proud of her dad. I thanked her, but she immediately realised that she’s accidentally let down her guard of pretending not to love me.
She then said, “The big time of losers!”
It was perfectly timed and of course, as usual, I was proud of her comedy chops. Catie told her that she’d done an excellent burn. Neither kid had heard of the word burn in that context before, but they kept trying to deliver them. Even though Ernie’s attempts weren’t great. “You’re a bloody Hell winner,” was his best attempt. “A bloody Hell winner of losers”. At least he knows that the way to pep up sub standard material is to pop a little swear word in there.
So I was able to do that as a bit and it went down well.
And I had booked a terrific line-up too with Lucy Porter, Bilal Zafar and Rich Wilson all going down a storm. Correctly, because they were all brilliant (you can catch Bilal at RHLSTP on Tuesday night at the Phoenix). Though we were doing it to raise funds for the school and they were all doing me a big favour, they all seemed to genuinely enjoy it and thanked me for the gig. Saturday night audiences can sometimes be tricky, but these guys were the perfect crowd.
And I am pathetic because I was straight back into loving this job and felt amazing having delivered a proper set. I know I do stand up at the start of RHLSTP and it’s not like I haven’t been on stage at all in the last three years, but this made me want to return to the stage and do more. It made me feel happy and alive. I am an absolute arsehole.
We raised lots of money for the school and the set up in the hall we used was so impressive that I thought that maybe I should do more regular gigs here. I think we’ll definitely try and make it an annual thing at least.
We’re already roped in to doing another show for our village school (the primary school is in the next village along) even though our kids couldn’t get into it. Maybe if all my gigs are 5 minutes from my house I can enjoy the buzz of performing, but still be around to write down all the funny things my kids say and so not have to write any jokes.
Back in the big time (at least within a 3 mile radius of my house).