On the run from Andi Peters following a misunderstanding about cruises, Melissa begrudgingly agrees to follow her friend Joanne (and Joanne’s 17th century throwback ‘life partner’ Fax) to the Edinburgh Fringe. While leafleting for Fax’s dreadful stand up show about faith healing and vegans, Melissa endures the highs and lows of pretentious student plays, ‘street typing’, and the knowledge that her shop has been left in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand tills…
Crap Comedy is the follow up to the 2018 novel Crap Holiday. Read it here.
Before she left the Co-op (she didn’t even pin a leaflet to the bastard notice board in the end), Joanne ordered me to attend Fax’s ‘Edinburgh preview show’. Why I’ve agreed to do this is not really clear, except that I’m a bit bored. Also I think the place does food, and I haven’t got anything in.
I know Fax’s stand up is going to be awful. I know this because I’ve met Fax. I’ve also seen Fax do karaoke, mangling Robert Palmer with his own made-up lyrics about being vegan. I know that as soon as he starts his routine, I’m going to cringe all of my organs out of my bumhole.
It’ll be OK though, it’s not Fax all night, it’s an ‘open-mic variety night’, at some pub called The Pilgrim. With any luck, it’ll be like The Gong Show, and Fax will get harassed off stage within 10 seconds. Thinking about it, maybe that wouldn’t be such a great idea. Fax would almost certainly start crying, and then Joanne would get up and start calling the audience ‘flaming cunts’, and then there might be a fight.
The thing that worries me most is that people will see me sitting with Fax and Joanne, and they’ll know I’m with them, and they’ll think I approve of this nonsense. And then if there is a fight, people will include me in it, because I’m with Fax.
For fuck’s sake. I shouldn’t have to rehearse kung fu moves in my head on the way to a comedy night. Not that I know any kung fu moves, but I thought I might kick people in the balls if it got too heated.
The taxi pulls up outside a Brewer’s Fayre.
‘Are you sure this is the right place?’
‘It’s the address you gave me, I put it in the sat nav.’
Fair enough. I pay the taxi and make my way to the door, convinced Joanne gave me the wrong address, or that there are two pubs with the same name. Actually, that’d be great. If this isn’t the right place, I can just go in here and eat scampi, and when Joanne has a go at me for missing the show I can tell her it’s her own fault for giving me the wrong address. Anyway, I’m out of the flat now, might as well make the most of it. And this is definitely the wrong place. They don’t have comedy nights at Brewer’s Fayres.
I’m feeling much more cheerful as I make my way inside. I’ll have some scampi and a couple of drinks, then I’ll have a go on the Deal Or No Deal machine if they have one. Maybe I’ll even do one of the Charlie Chalk activity pages while I’m eating.
Fax is standing by the ladies’ toilets, presumably waiting for Joanne. Before I can respond, a waitress approaches.
‘Good evening, are you wanting a table?’
As much as I’d love to say ‘No, I’ve come in here by accident’ and then run away, I have to say ‘Not just now thanks, I’m meeting my… friend.’ I nod vaguely towards the loo, and the waitress clocks Fax standing outside the door.
‘Excuse me sir, could you come away from the ladies’ please?’
Fax smiles at her but doesn’t move. ‘Oh it’s OK, my life partner is in there.’
‘I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to step away anyway.’
Fax’s face falls. ‘But I’m waiting for my life partner!’
‘Yes, but can you just wait a bit further away please?’
Fax looks at me for backup. I don’t make eye contact. ‘I’ll just wait for my friend at the bar,’ I say to the waitress. I resist the urge to add ‘That man’s a fucking weirdo, you should chuck him out’.
As I’m waiting for my drink, it occurs to me that I am in the right place, and that Fax is about to do stand-up comedy at a Brewer’s Fayre. I look around at the potential audience – families having tea, a couple of guys on a fruit machine, an awkward couple that are either on a first date or about to split up. Must keep an eye on them. But no one who looks like they’d appreciate Fax’s unique brand of ‘tolerant vegan comedy’.
‘Mel! Isn’t this great? Fax’s debut performance!’
Joanne has clearly already had a few, because on her way over to me she knocks a poor kid’s tea on the floor with her bum. The kid starts wailing, and the dad stands up angrily.
‘That was my son’s tea! You’ll have to buy him another!’
‘OK, chill,’ says Joanne, as I try my best to hide behind the Nobby’s Nuts display. ‘I’ll go buy him a meal right now! They’ll serve us extra quick, because I’m with Fax.’ She gestures towards Fax, as if the poor fucker is supposed to know why that’s relevant.
She bends down and addresses the kid. ‘What can I buy you for your tea?’
The kid just looks at her, trying not to cry.
‘Fish fingers.’ The dad’s chimed in now. He glares at Joanne.
‘Oh no I can’t buy him meat.’ She turns to the kid again. ‘How about some nice halloumi?’
The kid starts bawling.
‘Buy my bloody son his fish fingers!’ yells the dad. ‘You ruined his tea with your stupid arse, now go and replace it!’
A voice pipes up. ‘How dare you call my life partner fat!’ It’s barely audible, and a bit wobbly.
Fax is hovering behind Joanne He wants to step in, but I can tell he’s scared of having his comedy cancelled. And also of getting beat up by the dad. Joanne clearly feels the same.
‘Fine! God! I’ll get your child his murder meat!’
Joanne huffs off to the bar. I consider apologising to the dad, but I don’t want him to know I’m with them. Plus, I’m still sober.
Turns out the ‘comedy night’ is in a room upstairs, where you can’t eat. This is a blow, because I’d been planning to eat scampi to ease the pain of having to watch Fax.
‘Sorry, we stop serving at 9,’ the waitress said. It’s 20 to now, do I risk the wrath of Joanne and Fax by ordering scampi and eating it down here? I might miss Fax. Oh dear.
‘Scampi and chips and garden peas please. And some onion rings. Ta.’
‘What are you doing!’ Joanne nips my arm.
‘You fucking nipped me!’
‘What are you doing getting a meal? We’re here to support Fax!’
I’m not, to be fair. I’m here to eat scampi, and then maybe laugh at Fax if there’s time.
‘I’m getting scampi. It’ll be fine. Did you get that kid his fish fingers?’
‘What? Yeah.’ She looks shifty as she says this. ‘Right, I’m going to help Fax prepare and do his breathing exercises. When you’ve finished eating, go up the stairs, and it’s the room upstairs.’
I’m still standing at the bar waiting for my change, when the dad storms up. ‘That woman, where is she?’
‘What woman sir?’
‘That bloody woman! She knocked my son’s fish fingers off the table, then argued about replacing them. Then bought him bloody halloumi fries! He’s crying now!’
The barmaid looks mystified. ‘I’m sorry sir, look, which table is it? I’ll have the right meal sent over…’
‘No don’t bother, we’re gonna get him a Happy Meal instead.’ The dad storms off, trailed by the mum carrying the wailing kid.
‘Scampi and chips? Here’s your receipt, which table are you at?’
‘Er, I’ll just eat it here it’s fine.’
‘Sorry, you have to be at a table.’
‘Oh, OK. That one.’ I point at a table behind me.’
I’m just sitting down when Joanne storms over. ‘IT’S NEARLY 9! WHERE ARE YOU?’
‘I’m here,’ I reply. ‘Look, just let me eat my dinner then I’ll be right up, I swear.’
‘NO COME UP NOW!’
‘No!’ I stand up. ‘For once Joanne, I am not going to give in to your bullshit. I’m starving, and I am going to eat. Go up, and I’ll be there when I’m there.’
She twirls around and storms off. Fuck her. I want my scampi.