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Saturday, April 19

We Didn't Click

Me and today didn't click at all, not as expected at least. The original plan, which had been to spend the day doing DIY with a friend, and then head out for about an hour to do a short set at a small gig, just didn't happen. The friend has postponed, I woke up late, so didn't even do my share of the DIY, and the gig... well... for a pub called the Dolphin arms, you might expect something like those smiley sea-faring mammals. What I got was the experience that made me glad I hadn't brought a friend along to witness it.

But, back to the beginning of the day, the alarm went off in time to wake me up to see morning, but my tired body - aware of the challenges ahead, and worn out by the challenges behind - decided that it would be best to go into hibernation until early afternoon, by which I mean that post-lunchtime period of regret, where there's still time to do some stuff, but you know you've pissed most of the day away.

I started on the DIY trail in my home and managed to do a couple of things here and there. Then the urge to tackle the boxing in of my boiler overtook me. I have been thinking about this particular task for months and months. I've drawn diagrams on my computer. I've taken measurements. I've bought tools and screws, all in readiness for a massive carpentry undertaking. I have higher priority things to do in the house, but this task wanted me to do it (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and so do it was what I would do.. it...

I had a certain amount of timber in my house and garage, with which to start this task. The aim is to create a frame around my boiler and hot water cylinder, upon which panels can be hung, to obscure this ugly edifice. The aim is further complicated by the presence of a skylight in the scaling ceiling, which I do not want to lose the light from. In the end, the approach I took was to build bits of frame in-place, taking ad-hoc measurements and trying to make the whole thing look ok.

I didn't finish the framing as I ran out of timber. I'd need to go to B&Q the following day. However, things were timed to perfection, as I'd the gig to attend and my first attempt at bread making in the bread maker was pretty much ready.

Then things started to go wrong.

The bread had come out remarkably odd, with a concavity in it. Somehow, the combination of the fresh, slightly damp and yeasty, bread and some fizzy water made me feel a bit on the intoxicated side. I wasn't drunk, but I felt funny. Feeling funny could be a good idea when going to a comedy night. So, maybe this would help.

Then there was the comedy night. Oy ya yoy. That's how bad it was. I have to exclaim it pseudo-yiddish to give the full effect. As it happens, it was quite good fun to do, but this was not the night we'd hoped for. The promoter had warned the landlord that the gig would be better in its own room with a paying audience, the landlord felt that he knew better. In the end, we battled with an audience that clearly weren't there for comedy and didn't want it. They were awful to the first two acts - or at least, they were ambivalent with a shade of heckling.

Then the second section came and the guy on before me actually broke the room. This made the job a lot easier for me in the closing section. All I had to do was give bags of confidence and be as offensive as I could to everyone on the basis that, if I was having a go at them, they'd probably not have time to have a go at me back, and I would at least strike a comic goal in the name of those comedians before me. This sort of gig is fun for comedians to watch because it's like a parody of what gigs can turn into. As a result, you can't judge your performance on what you get back from the crowd. So it's actually a win-win situation, since any laughter or amusement you create is a bonus, and any mis-fires are genuinely the fault of the audience.

I think I made the bar staff laugh. I think I made the comedians laugh. I showed the heckler a little of what he'd get if he heckled someone who knew what they were doing on stage, and I think I suitably made a monkey out of him... though the real monkeys were probably the people who agreed to go on stage under circumstances that were not correct for doing comedy. Never mind. If the landlord agrees to have more comedy on the correct terms, then perhaps this venue could host an excellent comedy night. Last night was hardly the inaugural night on which to build on, though.

All this aside, I felt funny and confident. I am glad my friend didn't have to witness that, but I am sort of glad that I did it, rather than going to B&Q for more timber and doing more woodwork late into the night.

On the way back, having ferried two of my fellow comedians to their front doors, I stopped off at the M&S simply food that's inside a local BP garage. There was only one space to park in (I wasn't getting fuel) and it was being stood in by some lads. I approached the space, and one of the lads, in a jokey fashion, started to see me into it, waving to indicate how much further forward I should go. I decided to trust his judgement and did as indicated. Then, he rushed to the door of my car to let me out. Again, I acted as though this was particularly normal. He made some comment like "There you go sir". The pressure was on, though. I had to make this next bit work. I casually reached into my pocket, withdrew whatever coin his my hand, and without, missing a beat, tiped him.

This was, in my view, the correct answer. It might have worked perfectly, if it had been 20p or a pound coin. As it was, I stuck him a two pound coin and he refused to take it, saying it was too much. I accepted it back and rather lamely said - "well, I had to tip you".

It's hard being a comedian. At no stage in that encounter was I worried about the lads mugging me or that they were in my way. I was more concerned with doing the funniest thing for the moment. You have to admit, it rather pisses on someone who thinks they're taking the piss out of you with their faux-ushering if you then go and tip them, as though it were perfectly normal. The audience in my head were applauding. Two pounds? would it have been worth that to achieve a joke? In my view, yes. I've driven much further at much greater cost in order to get fewer effective jokes out to an audience, so two pounds is nothing.

I'm still rather amused at my calmness and presence of mind.

Shopping in M&S was intended to buy ingredients for some soup. I arrived home and made this soup, the second attempt of my bread-maker to make bread (I'd put another mix in immediately after the first), was due to be ready about a soup's cooking time later.

I ate neither the bread that was freshly out of the breadmaker nor the soup. I would leave them for the morrow. My brocolli, carrot, potato and tomato soup would, undoubtedly, be lovely, but it could wait.

Unfortunately for my sleep patterns, what couldn't wait was disc 2 of the Flight of the Conchords two disc set. It's interesting to see how they've rehashed their old material into the sit-com sort of format. If it wasn't being done so well, it would be lame. However, it's not lame. It's bloody marvellous.

Actually, though I couldn't have planned the day to work out like this, I think it went as well as it could have gone under the circumstances. It's a day I may look back on fondly.


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