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Saturday 21st November 2009

I was a little apprehensive about the gig tonight. I was returning to the Kings of Wessex school, where I had been educated and where I had first performed comedy to give my townsfolk a performance of my 2008 show "The Headmaster's Son". I was to be the second show ever in the new swanky King’s Theatre. I wasn't sure that Cheddar would be quite ready for my jokes about Jesus, Elizabeth Fritzl, my teenage masturbation habits, Jade Goody or me wanting to have anal sex with wee Jimmy Krankie. It was a controversial show for such a sleepy little town, but the Kings of Wessex is no stranger to controversy. Check out their wikipedia entry where you'll see there have been major controversies about blazers, kissing and my own personal favourite, a boy eating an apple in the wrong part of school. Which is worth reprinting in full:
"In January 2007, the school featured in TV and national newspaper reports following the punishment of a year 11 pupil for eating an apple in an area of the school where the consumption of food is forbidden. The pupil chose to ignore the 30 minute detention that he was given as punishment. As a result he was given an after school detention which he again ignored. The school then placed the pupil in the supervised learning unit for a day. The pupil's parents took the story to local TV station ITV West News, but then the story was picked up by the BBC, as well as local and national newspapers. The school defended its action and issued a press statement which said "For health and safety reasons students are only allowed to eat in designated areas (the school hall and gym). All students are aware of this rule and the consequences of not adhering to it." and "The Kings of Wessex is a high performing school and has high expectations of all students both in terms of academic work and behaviour. Kings is currently oversubscribed in all year groups. It is unfortunate this student and parents chose to escalate a relatively minor disciplinary incident by repeatedly refusing to accept the punishment." Subsequent press coverage praised the school for taking a firm stance on discipline."
Imagine if that happened in London. The child would be given an A level for even knowing what an apple was. If they were offended by the idea of a child eating an apple in a part of the school where you weren’t supposed to eat apples, then what would they make of my stuff and using my small hands to wank off paedophiles? I decided to drop that from the set.
The theatre was pretty much packed out, but with a very diverse audience. There were teenagers there, but the first three rows had about fifteen white haired people in their 70s and 80s staring up at me. The first person to arrive had been a woman in her 80s called Betty. I wondered if I should drop some more of the controversial material, but realised that then I would have very little left.
My mum and dad were also there and I didn't want to embarrass these pillars of the local community in front of all their friends. But I had little choice!
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go and my early Jesus jokes were not going down too well, though someone applauded when I talked about Christ's cock. It was my pal, Geoff Quigley. Not Betty.
But they seemed to relax in to the show a bit, and it was going pretty well. I was more worried about remembering what came next as it's six months since I've done this show, but most of it was coming back to me.
I did the first bit of the small hands routine, but said I wasn't going to do the next bit, but the audience objected and I washed my tiny hands of them and went ahead with it. I think they maybe regretted their decision a little bit, but it was their own Cheddar fault.
But about three minutes after I’d done the routine, just before the interval, a man walked down the aisle of the theatre carrying a small baby. What a beautiful and brilliantly timed heckle that was. Best. Heckle. Ever. I hid my face in shame. Not only had I said this filth in front of an 80 year old woman called Betty, those words had also gone into the ear cavities of a tiny, innocent baby. Of course it probably couldn't understand the words, but whose to say that they didn't make some kind of impact on its undeveloped mind. Would I have mentally scarred that child for life? I thought being the headmaster’s son was bad, but in 20 years time would it be performing at the King’s Theatre in Cheddar in a show called, “I have some vague and strange memory of being subjected to a fat man doing a diatribe about masturbating paedophiles for the good of society”?
It’s worth having a baby and taking it to a comedy gig, just so you can walk out at the most opportune moment. There is no response a comedian can give, but shame and embarrassment.
After the show I drank with some old school friends who'd made it along and my 25 year old nephew. I had done the bit about making my biology teacher's life a living Hell. Every time she said "mitosis" or "mysosis" we would say "your what?" or "your whatsis?" I feel guilty now about what effect this must have had on the life of our lovely, sweet and somewhat fragile teacher. But my nephew reminded me that once he was at the Kings of Wessex, a decade or so after I had gone, I had found out he had had the same biology teacher and I told him to say "your whatsis?" every time she said "mitosis" and him and his friends had carried the torch I had passed to him through time. How poor Miss Button must have shuddered as she first heard the return of this awful and annoying joke. I managed to carry on this verbal bullying from the 80s through to the 90s. How she must have cursed my memory. I would not blame her for a second if she hunted me down and killed me. I am really, really sorry Miss Button.
Though it is quite funny.
But the gig had been really good and it meant a lot to me to support my local theatre. I didn't take a fee, which I think is fair enough after all the school has done for me and after what I put the staff through (my mum also told my girlfriend that I wasn't as much of a swot as I claimed and that I was cheeky in lots of lessons and the teachers complained to my dad about how mouthy I was). Do support the theatre if you live in the area. I am hoping I might be able to add it to my Hitler Moustache dates.

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