Friday, November 26, 2004

A stab at comedic writing

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please can you take your seats for tonight’s performance. The show will begin in two minutes and latecomers may be refused entry to the programme.”

2 minutes and 10 seconds later

“…and he said to me. Oh, hang on. Some stragglers decide to stumble into my show, late. No, no, come on and take those seats – I was disappointed that it wasn’t a full house tonight as it was; the rest of these people can thank you later for gaining them more of my time for their hard-earned dough. Now, where was I?”

1 hour, 15 minutes and 10 seconds later

“That was fuckin’ great Larry, fuckin’ great. How’d’ya do it, eh? You’re funny as, well, funny as fuck.”
“Yeah, yeah, Slim, you’ve always thought I was. It’s the rest of ‘em, don’t you see: do they think the same way as you?”
“Course they do!”
“Do they?”

And so, it all began on that fateful night in January. I remember staring into the mirror for what seemed like days, turning that question over-and-over in my mind: did people find me funny, or was it simply a case of overly potent wine? Pun intended.

Y’see what I mean? I’ve started pointing my jokes out to people, willing them to laugh, to chuckle, to show some degree of fucking mirth. Even when they’re ROTL, as they say nowadays – I’m down with the kids, let me tell ya – I still find myself questioning the legitimacy of their laughter.

It’s been like that for over three months now.

It’s not that I’m scared to get up on stage, that I get some kinda fright going on or summink; I ain’t getting old in that respect, too old for the circuit, like. Nah, not me. I’m an old hand at tickling ribs – and we ain’t just talkin’ at the Comedy Club here. Hehe. What? Surely, I don’t need to spell that one out for ya, do I?

Give me fuckin’ strength.

Anyways, I’m, like, turning these new ideas over in my head, thinking them through and making humour out of the spiralling dust of everyday living. That was just the other day, too. Well, the thing is right, it’s like this: I had come up with such a killer joke that I started to laugh on the tube – that’s the underground for you philistines that live ‘in the [fucking] country’. (Yeah, I’m educated, I can write proper.)

Look ‘ere, let me tell the fuckin’ story; stop interrupting, for fuck’s sake. You’re a hard audience to please, a real boost to the old confidence, a shot-in-the-arm-type of people. Yeah, it’s a collective noun. Ain’t nuffin funny ‘bout it.

Whatever, let’s move on.

As I was saying, etc, etc, there I found myself, on the tube, like, and I was laughing at my own joke, which I’d literally just told myself in my own head.

Weird, like.

Anyways, people began, like, staring at me real closely and all.

I’d made the mistake of smoking the biggest fuckin’ doobie before I got on – some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to take police sniffer dogs on the transport system – and it made me a little bit paranoid, to say the least.

I decided I had to get off – I was compelled by the growing paranoia that people knew that I was stoned. I’d begun to sweat like the proverbial pig. It seemed to take so long to get to the next stop. Even though in two more minutes I could alight at my normal station, as soon as the tube train came to a halt I barrelled from the train, knocking fellow passengers to the side like ninepins. Some witty bastard shouted ‘Strike!’ as I exited, but I didn’t feel up to my usual, venom-spitting self, so I carried on headlong through the crowds.

I needed a Mars Bar.

The sweat was pouring off me and my eyes were wild with fright – albeit with red rims. I must’ve looked a right sight as I corralled through the shiny-tiled corridors. My breathing quickened and I felt the bile of panic rise into my dry throat. The escalator loomed into view and I took the left lane – for those idiots that assume that running up a ‘moving’ staircase will increase their lifespan. From this experience, I can tell you: it won’t.

In an attempt to gain my quarry – the Mars Bar, keep up people – to sate my hunger for sugar, I made the fatal error of taking the stairs two at a time. Big mistake.

Anyone out there that’s ever been stoned, or even slightly pissed, will recognise the flaw in my plan. My brain, starved of the necessary fuel, could not compute the distance between my feet and each (moving) metal step. Consequently, it wasn’t long before I completely misjudged my ascent, pitching myself forward at an alarming angle. Stupidly, I put out my arm to prevent any damage on impact.

Look, I’ve never been skiing. I didn’t know that putting out my arm was stupid, that these joints were my body’s weakest links – not to mention the other joints that contributed to my downfall.

There was an almighty crack, which echoed through the cavernous tube network. I fell flat on my face, a cry erupting from my mouth as my chin met a step with a sickening crunch.

People around me laughed. I still had the ability then. I tried a smile; all I managed was to black out completely. I blame the pain.

Later on, I awoke covered in yellowing bed sheets and realised I was receiving NHS treatment. While I suspect someone had been through my pockets looking for a mobile phone, cash and credit cards – vultures, all of them – I bet they left my BUPA card alone and failed in their ‘moral’ duty to inform my new carers, the London Ambulance Service. My head was fuzzy; I later found this was due to the painkillers I had been given. I had a plaster cast around my arm and a cut on my chin that was stitched.

On the plus side, there was a Mars Bar on my bedside table.

As I absently picked at a piece of scab adhered to the blanket that covered me – it wasn’t my scab, it’s just that something innate in me makes scab-picking a fundamental task that I am happy to carry out on myself and others – I waited for someone in authority to appear…

After three days of marinating in my own sweat, I checked out. Sorry, it’s not a hotel: I went and discharged myself.

While I picked up bag, a volley of shouts came from down the corridor. A group of white-coated personnel spilled into the room, brushing me aside. I heard one of them whisper, “Thank God he’s finally giving up a bed for someone who actually deserves it,” but I couldn’t think of anything acerbic enough to throw back. I had a gig to get to and I couldn’t afford to miss it, or another mortgage payment.

Well, we’ve gone full circle now, we’re back at square one. The good news is that I now have a date for the cast to be removed. It’s tomorrow.

Five hours later, I’m back on stage and it’s my final chance to be funny again, to prove I ain’t lost the ability to make the punters laugh.

So, I’ve still got some time to work on my new material. Except… well, except I can’t think of anything new. Not a position I’ve ever found myself in; more to the point, it’s a position I don’t know how I got into in the first place. I’ll have to try and get some answers tomorrow, at the doc’s place. Kill two birds with one stone and all that. I might also find out what I broke in terms of bones, too, cos I still don’t know.

Check the fridge: two bottles of wine and five cans of beer. Should be enough. And, it might lead to a funny anecdote for tomorrow’s show. Maybe.

Well, here’s something well funny. Yeah, hilarious. There’s a bloke in Harley Street, looking for number 43. He can see 42, 44 and all the others, but no 43. He’s been walking round for ages staring at the buildings, a map in his hands. He’s alternating between the two numbers like he’s watching a personal tennis match going on that no one else can see. And then, after being soaked to the skin in the torrential rain…

I got to be funny again, raised a laugh in the crowd; got a standing ovation and an encore. It all came back as soon as the cast was removed. I couldn’t work it out, but then the doctor said to me: the bone you broke in your arm was the Humerus, also known as the funny bone…

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