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.

Oh fuck, I’m supposed to be going to Scotland today, I haven’t got time to have a poo. Come on get up, you don’t want Andi Peters and his hard men beating down your door. Best go to Scotland, where at least Andi Peters can’t find you.

You’re right brain, I’ll figure out what to do about that when I get back.

Right, what do I need for a week at the Edinburgh Festival? I wish I’d bought a can of mace. Never mind – knickers, lots of knickers. And a loaf of bread, in case they don’t sell bread in Scotland. Apparently it’s always cold up there, so I pack the insulated ‘golfing mitts’ my dad inexplicably bought me one Christmas. I’ve forgotten to do the washing, so I run downstairs and stuff whatever fetid self-aware abominations I can find into my suitcase.

I’m just hunting for my good bra when I hear a car coming up the road.

Parp parp HONK BOOM parp BANG parp parp BANG BANG BANG

That’s got to be a comedy car. I’ll look out of the window and several dozen clowns will pile out of it. Only I won’t look out of the window because I’m too lazy , and anyway, deep down I know it’ll be whatever nonsense transport they’ve turned up with.

‘YO!!!!!’

Where is my black bra?

‘YO!!!!!!!!’

‘HELLO TO M’LADY’S HANDM-’

‘-FUCKING COME ON MEL!’

Yeah it’s them. I stick my head out of the window. As I do I’m struck by a vague memory of Joanne chucking an action figure out of the window at our old house. Somehow that’s a bad memory. I feel like it led to something bad. Whatever, it’s probably just the hangover.
Right, I guess I have enough bras. OK, keys, money, weapon?

I decide on my rolling pin. It’s nice and heavy for if any comedian asks me where I’m from like that’s a joke.

I’m just locking my door when Tony from downstairs comes up.

‘Oh, are you off somewhere?’

No, I’m going to kill myself and I don’t want anyone to get my stuff.

‘Yeah, Edinburgh.’

‘Oooh the Fringe! Well, be sure to see the tattoo won’t you?’

‘I will that!’

What the fuck is the tattoo. Is it like people getting tattoos? Whatever, Tony’s weird.

‘Bye.’ I’m out of the door before he can reply with some shit like ‘see you wouldn’t want to be you’.

I wish I hadn’t gone outside. It’s a van and it looks like they’ve bought it for a dare.

BILL’S BURGERS is plastered on the top of the enormous shuttered off window. There’s no exhaust pipe that I can see. For once Joanne might have sensed my apprehension, because she comes over to pick up my bags.

‘Oh, don’t worry, this is only temporary.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah, I know it used to sell meat, but we’re totally going to paint over it when we get there, so don’t worry.’

Well, that’s put my mind at fucking rest.

Apparently the rest of the van is fine, even though it has no exhaust pipe, explodes at five minute intervals, and fucking Fax is driving, but never mind. At least people will know it doesn’t sell meat any more. I would turn round and go back home, but the thought of Andi Peters and his goons is just too strong.

This is my choice:

  1. Stay at home and face the Andi Peters Police, who will beat me up when they find out I never paid for the cruise
  2. Get in the clown van with Joanne and Fax, and be driven towards ‘tolerant vegan comedy’

Oh shit, I have no idea what to choose. Maybe a meteor will come and hit me?

OK brain, do we have the money to pay off Andi Peters and his hired goons? We do not. So we have to go in the rubbish van. Anything to get away from Andi fucking Peters.

PARP BANG BANG!

I doubt if I stood in front of the van it would have enough power to run me over. Sadly.

‘Why’s it making those noises?’

Joanne looks at the van like she hasn’t heard anything. ‘Oh that, I think it’s just that it’s been used to selling meat. It’ll be OK once it realises.’

‘…We are talking about the van.’

‘Yes…’

‘OK then.’

Because I have no other choice, I climb into the van. It already smells of sweat and lavender, and not raw meat like I was hoping. I stuff myself and my belongings into a corner, and off we go.

*

Half an hour later…

Thud. Parp.

‘We’re not moving’, I suggest to Joanne.

‘YES, THANK YOU I DO KNOW THAT!’

Oh Christ, now Fax is crying. He’s meant to be driving the fucking thing. I put my head between my knees, like you do on an aeroplane, and pray that Fax will stop being such a fucking gaylord and fix the van.

He does no such thing. What happens is Joanne gets out and kicks ‘the fucking meat-eating bastard’ for half an hour, before we decide we might want to call a man.

‘Are you in the AA?’ I ask, before immediately feeling stupid.

‘Oh my god that patriarchal company?’ snorts Joanne. They only take you seriously if you’re a white male!’

‘Well, Fax is a white male, maybe he can phone them?’ I’m using the term ‘male’ fucking loosely here.

‘Oh no I’m sorry I can’t,’ pipes up Fax. I didn’t see him get out of the van. ‘I’m afraid I identify as an elf now, so my AA membership might be invalid.’

‘Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you?’ asks Joanne, looking at her nails.

I glare at Fax. ‘Give me your phone.’

He looks at Joanne. ‘I’m afraid I’ll have to ask M’Lady about… OW!’

I never wanted to have to kick Fax in the balls, but here we are.

‘GIVE ME YOUR PHONE.’

He hands over his phone. I fish the AA membership card out of his glove box (thank fucking Christ he has AA) and ring them.

‘Hello, welcome to the AA helpline, you’re speaking to Caroline, how may I help you?’

‘Hello yes, we’re stuck on the M6 northbound, the van has died. There’s a weird blue stick that says 259 with a seven under it if that helps.’

‘OK that’s great, can I just take your account number?’

Great? Has she heard a fucking word I’ve said? I scan the card until I find what looks like the right number.

‘37765442.’

Silence.

‘Hello?’

‘I’m sorry, you entered the wrong account number, I will have to hand you over to our fraud prevention team.’

‘No wait! I…’

Tina Arena on a loop.

At this point I give the phone to Fax, while yelling at him vigorously.

‘YOU TWO BOUGHT THIS PIECE OF SHIT VAN NOW I’M GETTING DONE FOR FUCKING FRAUD! YOU FUCKING DEAL WITH YOUR CRAP MEAT VAN.’

He takes the phone. ‘Oh, I love Tina Arena!’

I kick him in the leg. ‘That is not the fucking point!’

Joanne nips my arm. ‘Ow!’

‘Well, serves you right for oppressing Fax!’

‘Oppressing? Joanne, our van has broken down. Do you understand that?’

‘Yes of course, god!’

‘And you know Fax has AA membership, and that they can come and fix the van, yes?’

‘Yes but…’

‘NO Joanne, Fax is calling the AA, and they will fix the van, so we can get to Edinburgh.’

‘Yes but-’

‘-No, fuck off, this is what we’re doing.’

‘But the AA is a patriarchal system, designed to oppress wom-’

‘FUCK OFF!’

She stares at me.

‘…FUCK OFF!’

‘But the patr-’

‘Joanne, I swear to god, do not make me say it again, because I will say it while murdering you.’

An hour later, after lots of crying and trying to discreetly do two wees on the side of the M6, the AA man turns up. He does something mysterious with the van’s front bit, wipes his hands and tells Fax to put more oil in it. I like the AA man, he looks nice and sturdy. His badge says he’s called Brian. He has one of those moustaches that suggests he likes to race lawnmowers in his spare time. Maybe if I’m really nice to Brian he’ll adopt me and take me home to live with him and protect me from Andi Peters.

‘M’Lady, your chariot is revived!’

‘Oh Fax you’re so clever!’ screeches Joanne.

Well?

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