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.

‘Hi hi hi heyloooooo! Welcome to the most outrageous comedy night you’ll go to tonight! Ha ha ha!’

The compere is yelling this, I’m not sure why. Maybe he thinks that’s more fun. I glance at the poster next to the ‘stage’ (pile of pallets), and learn that the compere’s name is ‘Tommy Trouble’.

Upon hearing Tommy Trouble’s opening line, I down one of my three double gins. These are not going to last me the night.

‘You sir, what do you do for a living?’ he yells at a poor bastard in the audience.

‘I’m… I’m a surveyor,’ he stammers.

‘BOOM!’ yells Tommy Trouble. ‘I BET YOU VOTED TORY!’ The crowd laughs, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.

‘Fucking Tories, am I right?’ yells Tommy Trouble. ‘They eat babies, am I right?’

The crowd laughs again.

‘You know what?’ says Tommy Trouble. ‘My wife asked me to make the dinner one day. I did, because why should women make the dinner?’

The audience is losing their shit at this point. I go to the bar.

As I’m ordering three more gins and wishing I was dead, Tommy Trouble announces the first act. To my relief it’s not Fax. I’m not ready to deal with that just yet. More gin first.

The first act is some woman. She’s wearing a t-shirt that says ‘the future is female’. I thought the future was hoverbikes? I like the sound of those.

‘So last Friday I got my PERIOD! Right in the middle of Tesco!’

All the women laugh apart from me, Joanne and Fax. A couple of them start clapping. I’m really confused, which might be the gin, to be fair. So far, this woman’s joke seems to be that she got her period. Clearly I’m not up on modern comedy. I was kind of hoping for more knob gags and mother-in-law jokes.

‘So I had to buy TAMPONS yeah? And there was a MAN on the checkout! So I’m like ‘be cool’, but then he started crying because he had to touch my Tampax!’

The other women are dying with laughter at this point.

‘Probably because his DICK was smaller than a TAMPAX, yeah?’

This is bullshit and it didn’t happen. I’m going to put my hand up.

Joanne stops me. ‘No! Don’t embarrass Fax!’ I sulk through the rest of the act.

Then that knobhead Tommy Trouble gets up again, and starts yelling about some bloke called Dominic. People start losing their shit again. I burp. It tastes of scampi.

‘And now, please give it up for the comedy stylings of… Fax! Fax? Is that right? Tommy Twat checks his bit of paper. Fax is already up on the stage, accompanied by some anaemic clapping, and ‘WOOOOOOOOO!’ from Joanne. We all eagerly await his first zinger. My cheeks are burning with embarrassment already, and I’m not even anywhere near the stage.

‘Don’t you hate it when Holland and Barrett runs out of lavender?’

What.

‘And then, of course, it’s a waxing moon, so you need lavender!’

Double what.

Joanne is pissing herself. Clearly she’s run out of lavender before. I don’t think anyone else has.

‘But what do you expect when your moon’s in Sagittarius?’

The audience have started to chat among themselves, apart from one woman sitting in the corner with a J20. She is, against all the odds, laughing at Fax’s drivel. I hope Joanne doesn’t decide she’s a threat and glass her.

‘So, who here’s a vegan, and who’s a murderer?’

‘Fuck off,’ shouts one guy, but I don’t think Fax hears him. By the look on his face, Fax thinks this is going brilliantly. To be fair, he’s making two people laugh, which is three more people than I was expecting.

‘My runes this morning told me I needed to do a cleansing, but I’d just done one the night before!’

‘And when a lady invites you to go look at a rowan tree…’

‘If you’ve ever done anal cleansing with topaz you’ll know what I mean!’

Finally, mercifully, it’s over. I think the audience reaction can best be described as ‘mixed’. Even Tommy Shit Tits doesn’t quite know what to say as he gets ready for the next act.

Fax joins us again with something approaching a swagger. He seems happy enough with his performance.

‘Oh my god you were amazing!’ swoons Joanne.

‘Thank you M’Lady.’ He bows at her. I realise I’m supposed to say something.

‘Yeah. Some… really interesting ideas there.’

Fax beams. Before I’m required to come up with anything else, the J20 woman comes over. Joanne eyes her up and down, but thankfully decides not to glass her.

‘I just wanted to tell you that you were hilarious! I know somebody just like your character. It was uncanny!’

Character? Ah ha. It makes sense now.

‘You’ve got that kind of weirdo down to a tee!’

Fax simpers, clearly still too exhilarated to realise this woman is implying he is a joke, and so is everything he stands for.

Well?

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