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.
Hours pass without incident, mainly because I’m asleep. When I wake up again, Fax and Joanne are listening to BBC Radio Scotland.
‘I’m afraid we have a blockage on the A7 just going into Galashiels, as an event is taking place.’
‘There’s a bit of a hold up ladies, never mind’ says Fax.
An hour later, Fax has his forehead on the horn. Joanne is stabbing her phone with what looks like a pin.
She sees me looking. ‘I’m expelling the negative energies onto that man from the services.’
She’s stabbing a photo of Phil Mitchell. ‘That’s not him.’
‘Yes I know, God!’
‘Look, we should wake Fax up.’
‘No, he’s had such a spiritual trauma.’
‘Yes but he’s driving.’
I shake Fax awake.
‘FAX YOU SHIT WAKE FUCKING UP’
Joanne nips me. I am immune to this. However, I’m not immune to her throwing a mug at me.
‘Ow fucking hell! Wait, why didn’t you tell me we had a mug? Why have I been drinking out of a fucking candle holder?’
‘It’s a sacred mug.’
‘So sacred you threw it at my fucking head?’
‘God chill out! It’s a Greta Thunberg mug!’
‘Who is Greta Thunberg? And why are you throwing her at me?’
‘Who is Greta Thunberg?’
‘Oh my god you’ve never heard of Greta Thunberg!’
‘No. And you still haven’t apologised for throwing a mug at me.’
Joanne tuts. ‘Greta Thunberg is a fellow Gaia being.’
‘You threw a fucking mug at my head!’
‘I did not!’
‘You literally fucking did! Apologise or I will punch you in the face Joanne!’
‘Are you sorry for throwing a mug at my head?’
‘And are you sorry for nearly getting us fucking arrested at the services?’
‘You don’t understand, Fax was-’
‘FAX WAS A PRICK. AND SO WERE YOU.’ I can’t be polite any more.
We both sulk for a few minutes, then Fax wakes up. ‘Oh, we’re still here then.’
‘Yes of fucking course we are, because you, as our nominated driver, have been asleep with your head on the horn. Given that, I’d be pretty fucking worried if we were moving, wouldn’t I?’
‘No no, I mean, the blockage is still there.’
Blockage? Oh he’s right, we’re stuck in traffic. We’re in some village and I’m not sure what the holdup is, it’s almost like a load of cars just decided they couldn’t be fucked anymore and collectively died. People are milling around smoking and trying to see three miles up the road.
‘Shall we get out and have a look?’
‘Oh no, because I have to be ready in case the traffic starts moving again.’
‘Fax, do you see all those people who aren’t in their cars? I think that means we can get out as well.’
He thinks for a minute. ‘Well, OK, let me just get my obsidian.’
The purpose of the obsidian is still unknown.
No one seems to know what’s going on. A group of people are huddled round someone’s car stereo, waiting for a sign from the holy oracle, which takes the form of BBC Scotland’s ‘Neil with the Traffic and Travel’. I wander over to them. A couple of people ask if we’re selling food at the moment. I’m a bit confused until I remember we’re travelling in ‘Bill’s Burgers’.
‘Any news about what’s going on up there?’
A woman with a Thermos answers. ‘Not yet but it’s the traffic in a minute.’ They all seem as confused as we are. All we know is that there’s an event going on. That could mean anything from an escaped monkey to a really good fight outside the Spar.
Joanne and Fax join us. ‘Excuse me, would you mind changing the channel on the radio? The waves are interfering with my wood meridian.’
Everyone looks at Fax.
‘The traffic report’s on in a sec, hopefully we’ll find out what the holdup is, so if you can just keep your wood thing under control for a bit…’
‘I don’t see what good that will do’ huffs Joanne. ‘The universe will clear the blockage when it’s time.’
‘Shhhh, shhhh’ says the Thermos woman.
‘And for those of you stuck in the stationary traffic in Galashiels, we can bring you an update. It seems to actually be a wedding at All Saints Church that’s causing the hold up. According to reports, the wedding guests have been somewhat cavalier with their parking jobs, resulting in Church street and the surrounding roads being completely blocked. However, we have been told the wedding is wrapping up now, so sit tight for a few more minutes and the guests should be on their way to the reception soon.’
We’ve been held up for an hour for a fucking wedding?
‘I guess they were desperate to get to the church on time!’ laughs the DJ. We do not join in with the laughing.
A group of us decide to form a mob and march up to the church to confront the wedding guests/bastards. Don’t churches have car parks? And did they really think it was OK to hold up a load of people just because some bitch wants people to know she has sex? What the fuck kind of people do that? We could have been an ambulance for all they knew. We could have been carrying a guy whose head had fallen off. The more I think about it, the angrier it makes me.
We don’t have any flaming torches or pitchforks, but we do have a Thermos, a couple of Bic lighters, and we are very good at tutting.
I figured Joanne and Fax would stay behind, but to my surprise Joanne joins the mob.
‘I thought you said the universe will clear the blockage when it feels like it?’
‘Well it has.’ She’s clearly choosing to ignore the fact that the cars are still stuck. ‘Plus I don’t want to miss out on any fights.’
When we get to the church, the guests are just starting to come out, followed by a bride the size of Aldi. Morag, the Thermos woman, has assumed the role of ‘mob leader’. I shall now refer to her in my head as ‘Moragon: Keeper of the Lukewarm Tea’.
‘Do you have any idea of the trouble you’ve caused?’ she screeches at the assembled guests. The guests stare at her blankly. They have maybe eight teeth between them. I’ll be honest, if it comes to a fight I don’t fancy mine and Morag’s chances.
The bride storms over to us, causing a minor earthquake. ‘This is mah wedding! The fuck are you doing trying to spoil mah wedding! It’s mah special day!’
I can’t help it, every time she says ‘mah’ I start laughing. So does Joanne.
We can’t see the groom anywhere. I wonder if she’s eaten him.
Morag is incensed. ‘What we’re doing? Young lady, your little stunt has held up the traffic for the best part of an hour! Now what do you have to say about that?’
The bride is seemingly oblivious to the situation, and Morag has to spell it out for her.
‘Do you see all these cars parked in the road? You do realise that these are your guests, and your responsibility, and that they have been blocking the road for an hour because of your silly wedding!’
‘How dare you call mah wedding silly!’
I was just about to back Morag up, I really was, but she said the word so now I’m laughing again.
The groom makes an appearance. I suspect he’s been hiding behind her all this time.
Morag continues. ‘It is beyond me why none of your so called “guests” thought to use the car park!’
‘Actually,’ the groom pipes up, ‘the car park is going to be used for some of the wedding photos, so they couldn’t park there.’ He says this with a completely straight face, as if we were just going to go ‘Oh, fair enough’.
‘You…’ splutters Morag. ‘Right that’s it, I’m calling the police!’
‘You can’t call the police on mah wedding! I’m a princess!’ She lunges toward Morag, who’s getting her phone out of her bag. The Thermos is knocked to the floor. The crowd gasps.
Joanne decides this is a good moment to stick her oar in.
‘Listen here, fucking Bride of Porkenstein,’ yells Joanne. I remember that I am friends with Joanne in the first place because occasionally she comes out with shit like this. ‘Just because you need a whole car park for your fucking fat arse, doesn’t mean you can hold up the traffic. Now get your band of gyppos to move their cars!’
The bride makes a noise like air escaping from a dead cow, and turns her rage on Joanne. I know from past experience that this is an unwise move. They exchange some slaps, and then what I assume is the bride’s mother separates them.
‘Leave it, our Hayley, she’s not worth it!’
‘But it’s MAH WEDDING!’
‘Yeah I bet he owns a Greggs doesn’t he and that’s why you’re marrying him!’ shouts Joanne. ‘Move your fucking cars!’
‘Our Hayley’ spins round and stomps off towards the car park, where an arch and a backdrop have been set up. Morag takes her phone out and goes to call the police again, but Joanne stops her. ‘Wait hang on, we might as well ruin the fat cow’s wedding photos first.’
Morag looks like she might not wholeheartedly approve of this plan, but she agrees to put the phone call off for a bit.
‘Although I do need to be getting back to check on my sandwiches in my cool bag…’
‘No it’ll be great, check this out’ grins Joanne. ‘Seriously, follow me.’ We make our way into the car park. To a passer-by we just look like a dozen interested strangers watching a lovely and moving wedding. ‘Our Hayley’ chooses to ignore us. Joanne waits until the bride and groom’s ‘immediate family’ are assembled, then starts booing at two-hundred decibels. We join in enthusiastically.
The shot is immediately disrupted. We pipe down. They try again. We start booing again. We know we’re onto a winner here, because the bride is unable to stop herself snarling at us, which probably isn’t the best look for a ‘just married’ photo.
Emboldened by our initial success, we move closer to the happy couple. ‘Our Hayley’ now has steam coming out of her nostrils. We try inserting ‘YOU SUCK’ and ‘YOU’RE SHIT AND YOU KNOW YOU ARE!’ Interestingly, this last one comes from Morag’s husband, who will later explain that he supports Rangers at the football.
This carries on for about ten minutes, until she can’t take it anymore, and storms over to us again. Trees are uprooted. Small animals flee.
‘STOP RUINING MAH WEDDING!’
‘Move your fucking cars then you giant fucking knobhead!’ shouts Joanne back.
Morag steps up. ‘I’m tired of this. I swear to god young lady, if you do not get your guests to move their cars, I will empty this flask all over your dress.’ She unscrews the lid to show she’s serious.
This does it. ‘Our Hayley’ might be able to handle some mild criticism and booing, but she draws the line at getting her ‘princess dress’ covered in tea. She thunders back towards the guests, and mutters something to her mother, who pulls a face and starts going round the guests, pointing at the cars. The guests shrug and start shuffling towards their respective cars.
We cheer like this is a Christmas movie and we’ve just saved the community centre. While it would be fun to carry on booing, we decide we have places to be, and that we’ve been stuck here long enough. On the way back, Joanne and Morag somehow manage to become the best of friends. Joanne is telling her about Fax.
‘Oh yes, my life partner, he has an Edinburgh show. He’s an artistic genius!’
‘Ooh, what does he do in his show?’
‘He’s going to be doing tolerant vegan comedy, and also highlighting social issues through the medium of interpretive dance.’
That last bit is new to me.
I hear Joanne inviting Morag and her husband to Fax’s show. I’m sure that’ll be a banging night out for the Morags.
‘Well, we were heading across for the Tattoo dear, but we might pop in and see how you’re getting on. What’s the name of the show?’
‘Fax’s Tolerant Vegan Comedy’ beams Joanne proudly.
I’d assumed the show would be called something like ‘Gandhi’s Vagina’.
Speaking of Fax, he’s asleep again when we get back. Joanne wakes him up before I can find a stick and poke him with it.
‘Oh M’Lady, where did you go? I was so worried!’ Worried enough to go back to sleep, I notice.
‘Oh it’s OK, we cleared out the blockage with some help from Gaia.’
And apparently Rangers FC, but she doesn’t mention that.
The merry mob say their goodbyes to each other, and we carry on with our journey. As we pass the church, we wave at ‘Our Hayley’, who is standing there smoking and crying. Good. Serves her right.