Updated: Feb 5
Pleasing An Audience Is Easier Than Pleasing My Mother.
She entered the restaurant with a walking stick and my heart sank. Admittedly it was a fold-up one but still——a walking stick?
I had no idea she used one.
Then she asked me where I had parked the car and if could we drive to the comedy club.
“I thought we might walk,” I said, “it’s only five minutes.”
She pulled a ‘hardly’ face and my heart sunk a little further.
Was this a good idea? Her watching me do my thing?
When my pal offered to come with me to the comedy club I had to admit I was surprised. Comedy clubs in Scotland are the Jazz clubs of spoken word venues. They tend to be dark dingy places full of young people used to swearing, sex jokes, and people who are ‘alternative’ and want to express it———hardly the sort of place I saw my pal sitting in.
My pal is more of a poetry-reading in Waterstones sort of person, but when she talked of “getting out of her comfort zone” I took her at her word.
She had just returned from Australia and seemed all fired up with ‘getting out’ and ‘making the most of things’.
“I don’t feel seventy-whatever,” she said more than once “and I hate knitting.”
What knitting had to do with comedy I had no idea, and as I made a joke about the waiter mincing about like a Panto dame she giggled.
Whew! I thought. Maybe it will work after all?
We ordered drinks and food and while she talked I started to go over my set in my head…
At times she looked at me like I wasn’t listening, and finally, as we tucked into our vegan risotto she pushed the sweet potato fries my way.
I silently plucked the longest and slid it between my lips …
She eyed me curiously “I‘ve never seen you like this before——so quiet.”
“I’m going over my lines,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, retrieving the remaining fries.
The gig was in the basement of a student pub which had my pal immediately talking of claustrophobia.
She took one look at the tattooed barmaid, and muttered “don’t suppose you have any sherry.”
The place was empty when we walked in and we took a seat at the back.
“You’re on second,” said the buoyant compare as he youthfully strode by.
“Thank heavens,” said my friend eyeing a couple of women propped up on bar stools looking as comfortable as a tightrope walker in stilettos.
She sipped her tonic water with distaste as the room began to fill up with noisy students reeking of dope, and other comedians.
“She did offer to go out the back and search for sherry,” I said.
“She didn’t mean it, I could tell,” sniffed my pal.
The compare bounced on stage to check the mike. He had more energy than a hyperactive after a caseload of coke (the drinking kind), not the other.
“Can you all move up the front?” he said with an appealing look at us. “Make room for the others.”
“There’re others?” Said my pal then catching a glance at a group of hoodies made for the front table.
Before we knew it we were hemmed in from all sides, squashed into our seats, me with a knee at my back, and inches from the stage———so close I could see the nasal hairs of the compare.
My pal stared at the back as more packed in.
“What happens in a fire,” she muttered.
“I’m sure it will be ok” I turned to the front. “You can always toss your tonic water.”
Ignoring my tonic joke she began to talk of palpitations and emergency exits—-which she had as much chance of as me growing a third head.
The first act had my pal laughing.
“Your next” she turned to me.
The comedian bounced off stage, the compare bounced on.
My heart pounded…
He introduced another act.
“I thought you were next” huffed my pal.
I wanted to tell her to shut it.
More comedians appeared.
A rap artist joking about grannie’s private parts.
A comedian who said he felt invisible.
An intimating woman with catholic issues.
And a man with quite a bit to say about mental health.
They all got their fair share of laughs.
“Time for a break,” said the compare.
The lights flashed on.
We watched the mass exodus to the bar as the compare flashed past us. My friend grabbed his arm.
“I thought you said she was second” she gestured to me like I was an off-bit of fruit.
I was beginning to feel like I was with my mother.
“In the second session,” he said, his smile waning.
We watched his back disappear.
“He could have said” she muttered.
I tried to focus on my set, was it too long?
“I may have to go outside,” said my Pal.
Or too dirty?
I looked about the crowd——not dirty enough?
My heart began to pound as my pal and I left the basement me attempting to go over my set, my pal for the toilet.
The toilet was a tiny place with a large mirror angled in such a way that when you left the cubical you felt you were in another room——weirdly disorienting especially if you had a few wines or whatever. My pal reappeared, like a child who had got something ‘useful’ for Christmas.
“Can’t go in there, it’s all complicated” she muttered.
“Just a mirror,” I said, “in a funny place.”
She didn’t hear but moved back into the basement securing a seat at the very back with a clear passageway to the exit. As the crowd returned clutching drinks, some wafting of dope, my pal moaned about not being able to see.
She didn’t seem to notice the smell and for a moment I idly wondered about her past, until my stomach tightened reminding me I was on in five minutes.
My set went well, I got laughs more than I expected it was a great crowd.
I plumped down beside my pal beaming.
“Your very” she paused, “earthy”.
“That’s what my mum would say” I laughed.
We left soon after, and as we headed out the door a group of young girls grabbed me to say how much they liked my story.
“You performed from the heart,” said one.
“Can’t wait to see you again”, said the other.
“Calling Frank dyslexic for wank is one of the best lines of a night.” Said an onlooker.
My pal was silent.
I floated to the car on a complete high.
My set is an exaggerated story about my mum and my ex who I’d managed to disappoint more times than a politician lies. For me it is a liberating experience, my pal, however, seemed unimpressed she even had the same disappointed look as my mother.
“There a side to you I had no idea of,” she said. “A side I’d rather not know.”
She heaved into the car, slammed the door, and with a grunt slid on her seat belt.
“I liked the invisible man,” she said “He was the best.”
I started the engine.
“He was clever, and he didn’t swear,” she said.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her she sounded just like my mother.
I didn’t care…
With laughs like I got, disappointing my mum was the last thing on my mind.