I had another interesting, well attended and well appreciated gig in Bristol, where a digression about the elephant manÂ’s cock led me down all kinds of weird and unpleasant pathways, some of which were funny and some of which werenÂ’t. I enjoy getting myself into trouble and seeing if I can get my way out of it. The audience seemed to understand this tonight, even though I touched on subjects that wouldnÂ’t normally be touched upon in a comedy gig and which really shouldnÂ’t be mentioned out of context on a weblog. ThatÂ’s the beauty of live comedy. ItÂ’s sometimes a never to be repeated moment in time. The Comedy Box is a great venue with a cool and comedy literate audience and it was a pleasure as always to be there, even if I felt a bit dirty and wrong when I came off.
The compere , Mark Olver had been chatting to me backstage. He does the warm up for one of my favourite TV shows Â“Deal Or No DealÂ” or Â“Deal, No DealÂ” as I prefer to call it. I sky plus the show every day and watch it in fast forward, but in the early days used to watch it "live" every day. ItÂ’s something I was going to write about in the past, but then Emma Kennedy
started going on about it all the time and it is her job to follow where I have been and not vice versa
so I have kept my obsession secret from you. When someone mentioned this DOND (or DND as I prefer to call it) website game in my guestbook
I msn messaged Emma to tell her. Â“ThatÂ’s so last week,Â” she replied as if she was the best at liking DND and I was just rubbish at it. She would rue the day she tried to act better than me, rather than worse, as she actually is.
The show is filmed in Bristol and Mark told me that there was a party tonight, with contestants past and present in attendance. Â“Would you like to come?Â” he asked me. I almost choked with excitement. I didnÂ’t have to be asked twice. Although I pretended I did need to be and made him ask me again later. I had friends who had come to see me at the gig, but I knew I would have to give them the brush off. This would not only be the greatest night of my life, it would also be a chance to rub Emma KennedyÂ’s face in the turd pile that is my ultimate superiority.
The party was in a function room of a Bristol hotel. As we walked into the foyer, a familiar face was coming out of the room. Mark greeted him happily. I thought I knew him from somewhere. Then I realised, I knew him from Deal, No Deal. It was John, the softly spoken local fella who had been in one of the shows from the early glory days. This strange feeling of knowing someone who I didnÂ’t know was going to be the defining sensation of the night. Ironically quite a few of the people I met also had this feeling about me, recognising me from somewhere, but not knowing where. It was the ultimate satire of celebrity and the transient and meaningless nature of fame.
The party had been going for a while by the time we got there and the DND contestants were all pretty drunk and going into this room full of inebriated people of all ages and backgrounds made it feel like we were crashing a wedding. As it was I was crashing a party that I had no right to be at. Except that I was all of these peoplesÂ’ biggest fan. Bigger than Emma Â“so last weekÂ” Kennedy for sure. I texted her to let her know where I was. She admitted her jealousy immediately and asked for NoelÂ’s autograph, proving that she knows nothing about why the show is great. ItÂ’s not because of Noel. ItÂ’s because of the stars who have to open boxes and then decide whether they want a deal or not (another better title Â– Â“whether they want a deal or notÂ”), sometimes trying to pretend that they are able to get a feeling off a particular box or change the outcome of this random game through positive thinking (which they are able to do approximately 1 in 22 times). Noel wasnÂ’t there as he was in Switzerland winning an award for the show, but I didnÂ’t care. I was agog at the sea of familiar and slightly familiar faces and already picking out some of my favourites. I have been to a few celebrity parties but I have never felt as excited and in awe as I did tonight, surrounded by a load of people who had done nothing but appear on my TV opening boxes. It was both an ironic and a genuine pleasure for me, which I think is the best kind of pleasure (like when Peter Baynham made me laugh and cry at the same time, when on the return from my grandfatherÂ’s funeral he told me Â“I am delighted that your grandfather is deadÂ”) I decided to make this crushing defeat more bearable for Emma by collecting autographs for her, without really acknowledging the hypocrisy of this after my week of complaining about such behaviour Â– though I am a fan and I was collecting the autographs for a fan and there was something very satisfying about being on the other side of the pen. I was the person asking the vaguely known TV personality for their signature for once. I was the one being cheeky and slightly rude. But I was genuinely delighted to meet these people. As well as ironically delighted.
Rather wonderfully because none of the contestants have had an opportunity to become jaded by their celebrity yet they were all very friendly and forthcoming and patient with me. They happily relived their TV experiences for me (it was interesting how I could only remember how a very few of them had actually fared Â– especially when they were particular favourites). Maurice who does a little poem on most shows at the moment was the first to give me his autograph and he wrote a poem for Emma. He also bought me a drink, so although his show hasnÂ’t been on yet, I am guessing he did OK (though he might just be a lovely man, which he certainly appeared to be). I saw Sam early on singing Â“Big SpenderÂ” on the karaoke, who I had always had a bit of a crush on and was delighted when she stopped to chat, but alas she was more interested in finding her cigarettes than talking to me for too long. I met the first 1p winner who delighted in telling me how he had been recognised by Roy Â“ChubbyÂ” Brown.
Then Mark brought Lucy over. Lucy who really believed in positive thinking, but who evenso didnÂ’t get on for 50 shows and then only won a fiver. But imagine how badly sheÂ’d have done if she hadnÂ’t thought positively. She was another of the DND babes and so it was a massive fan honour that she gave me the time of day, but she chatted to me for a long time and larked around for photos, almost like she was just an ordinary member of the public, rather than someone who had been on TV for a couple of months opening boxes. I couldnÂ’t decide if I would rather marry her or Sam and so was in a difficult DND situation of myself. Should I make an effort to go for Lucy now, who was definitely more interested in talking to me, or risk waiting til the end of the evening in the hope that I might be left with Sam (you can make your own box jokes here), but risking being left with nothing? I texted Emma to tell her that I thought I was probably about to pull them both, but knew in my heart that neither of them were interested. Why would they be? I hadnÂ’t even been good enough at opening boxes to win 1p.
I wish I had time to tell you all the crazy times we had, but when you are friends with celebrities like the DND contestants you have to respect their privacy. At about 2am I suddenly felt a bit self-conscious about being the only person at the party with no real reason to be there so made my way back to my hotel. Plus I had joked to Lucy for a third time about the success of her positive thinking and sensed I was being like one of the occasional annoying audience members who hangs around for hours after a gig just being rude to you (I really like speaking to most people after gigs, itÂ’s just occasionally someone will be uncouth and weird and not leave and then pour water over your head for example). I had loads of autographs for Emma (including a rude one from the bloke who drives the contestants to the studio) and had a taste of what Andy Warhol had been talking about when he said weÂ’d all be famous for fifteen minutes. All these people had really done nothing and yet I was really impressed to meet them and excited about being amongst them. But you actually couldnÂ’t find a scenario that was more just a load of ordinary people drinking in a bar. How strange the power of the idiotÂ’s lantern.
They had a wonderful camaraderie and were most welcoming to me even when they found out I was nothing to do with the show. Most nights after a gig are spent in the hotel bar alone, feeling deflated and alone and waiting for the adrenaline to subside, but occasionally something spectacular and extraordinary occurs that makes me glad that I do this job.
I am aware that I will never experience anything as exciting as this again and that the rest of my life can only be a disappointment in comparison, but better to live one day as a bloke crashing a celebrity party full of ordinary people than a whole lifetime as Emma Kennedy. I will be putting some photos up when I get them from Mark and have attached a scan of the autographs for you to enjoy. Also Emma, Mark has said if you and I ever want to go and see a recording he can arrange it for us to be two of the people who open the boxes for the viewer competition at the end. Yeah, I hadnÂ’t told you that. I am too good to you, Bubs. But I am the best at liking Deal, No Deal too.
I love my life. And when I am married to Lucy and Sam all will be complete.