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.

We’re staying in tonight. This has come as a relief to me; I’m tired and fat and I only came to Edinburgh to get away from the QVC police. I have no interest in going to watch a half-arsed comedian demanding we put five-pound notes in his bucket. Most of the time that wouldn’t even work out at a fiver a laugh.

I reckon they’re onto something though. I wonder if I could get away with standing in a pub yelling words at people, then demanding money off them.

Yesterday I saw a poster for a show called Come and Look at the Baby. Further inspection revealed that this woman was sitting in a community centre showing off her baby to people. No word on if prices go up when the baby does something interesting, like shitting itself or biting its mother. I imagine the mother could make quite a bit of money if the baby had a specific talent, like juggling or making its head spin all the way round. Or if the baby was still up the woman’s fanny.

I could get in on this racket, if that’s what passes for an Edinburgh show. I could call my show Come Look at The Depressed Woman in Her 30s Drinking Neat Vodka and Looking at Pictures of Andrew Lincoln. With any luck they’ll think I’m like Tracy Emin. Didn’t she make a load of money off having a disgusting bed full of cans and tampons? Big deal – try having a carpet with a stain on it. Oh that’s the one – Come Look at the Depressed Woman in Her 30s Yelling at a Stain on the Carpet.

Anyway, that’s for next year, if I haven’t been eaten by a lion by then. Tonight I’m just going to knob around in my pyjamas, and if I can get the TV to work properly I’ll watch EastEnders. Naked Stefan has gone out for the evening, thank fuck, although I’m having to try not to steal his sausages out of the fridge. The downside is that Joanne and Fax are going to be in the room. It’s OK, because I have a plan to make this as painless as possible. The plan involves going to the Spar round the corner, and buying gin and Hula Hoops, then hoping I can consume enough of them that I go deaf and don’t have to listen to Fax’s song about elves and nipples.

Speak of the vegan devils. I’ve just got everything out of the carrier bags and arranged within easy grabbing distance, and am fiddling with the remote, trying to stop that weird text coming up on the screen every five seconds.

‘Yo, we thought we might do our yoga in here tonight.’

Course you fucking did. It wouldn’t be a Tuesday night without accidentally seeing your fanny or Fax’s balls.

‘Where did you get Hula Hoops from?’

‘I went to the Spar.’

‘What? Why didn’t you invite us?’

I look at her. ‘Why would I invite you? It wasn’t “dinner and a show”.’

Joanne adjusts her ‘yoga bra’, which is a sports bra she’s drawn runes on, possibly with Tippex. ‘It’s OK anyway, we’ve got some cous cous in, and Fax has brought the rest of his plum gin.’

Implying that plum ‘gin’ hasn’t now got seven layers of mould on it.

‘Jo, do you know what’s up with the TV? This text keeps popping up on it.’

She grabs the remote off me and jabs at a few buttons. This makes the text bigger. Great, now I can read about ‘NICAM II’, ‘No Signal’ and ‘ECO Mode: Auto’ without straining my eyes.

‘Well you’re a big fucking help aren’t you.’

‘God chill out! It’s not important anyway.’ She puts the remote down on the other side of the room where she knows I’m too lazy to go, and plops down on the settee next to me. Fax hasn’t said a word during this exchange. In fact, he’s just been standing by the lamp with his hands on his head.

‘Is Fax OK?’

‘What? Oh yeah, he’s summoning light energy for later.’

Jesus fucking Christ. Is this like the time they decided to go round naked so they could ‘get all their nutrition from sunlight’? I don’t know much about the stupid shit they do, but I’m pretty sure Fax isn’t going to get much Vitamin D from a 40-watt bulb.

‘Anyway, look at this.’

She pulls a stack of leaflets out from… somewhere. I don’t like to question it too much.

‘We need you to come and help out with promotion tomorrow.’

‘Promotion?’

She looks at me like I’m slow. She’s not actually wrong. ‘It’s Fax’s debut on Thursday!’

Oh God I’d forgotten all about that. In all the excitement of the week, I’d forgotten Fax is actually here to do his shit comedy about horoscopes and lavender.

Fax’s leaflets say ‘five-star comedy’. This is not my opinion. In fact, I’m sceptical of the ‘five-star’ claim. I ask Joanne about it.

‘God, why do you have to demand evidence for everything? You should be a police.’

‘I’m just interested, I need to know don’t I? In case anyone asks, you want me to be able to tell them don’t you?’

‘Just tell them it’s five-star comedy!’

I have a gulp of gin and a handful of Hula Hoops. ‘And who gave him this five-star review?’

‘I did.’

Jesus, it’s not even from Broadway Baby. And from that copy I got thrown at me they give every fucker five stars.

I look at the leaflet again.

‘A groundbreaking, sexy comedy genius.’

The rest of the leaflet consists of a too-zoomed in photo of Fax, like that’s going to make anyone want to come to his show. Dotted around are words like ‘Progressive!’, ‘Fun!’, and ‘Chakras!’ written in comic sans.

The show’s at some German pub I can’t pronounce. I like the sound of it though, it sounds like the sort of place that does sausages and proper beer, not fucking Adolf Hitler shandy. Speaking of the comedy genius himself, he’s finished standing in front of the lamp, and has realised two things:

  1. He’s more than six inches away from ‘M’Lady’.
  2. This is unacceptable and will lead to gout, depression and bum malaise.

For fuck’s sake, it’s only a two-seater settee, and I was taking up two of those seats before Joanne even sat down. I haul myself over to the armchair.

‘I’m so energised!’ he declares. I’m very happy for him.

‘Mel has offered to come help with the promotion tomorrow!’

I have done no such fucking thing. I have another gulp of gin and stuff Hula Hoops into my mouth.

‘Oh wonderful!’ he starts clapping. ‘Do be sure to bring some obsidian with you though.’

What is this obsession with fucking obsidian? It’s not like it stopped him making a twat of himself at the services. Although… now I think about it, he did miraculously avoid getting arrested and beaten up by that Phil Mitchell lookalike.

Which reminds me. ‘I really need to fix the TV, I want to watch EastEnders.’

‘Leave it to me,’ says Fax, in a worrying tone I’ve come to recognise as ‘confidence’. He picks up the remote and, instead of actually pressing any buttons to try and get rid of the text on the screen, carries it over to the lamp and stands there holding it.

‘Fax, do you see that text on the screen? I’m just trying to get rid of that. I’m not sure doing Reiki on the remote is going to help.’

I glance at the clock. EastEnders is on in five minutes. ‘Fax seriously, just try turning it off and on again.’

‘Oh it’s OK, I’m just cleansing it of its negative energies. Then it will work.’

‘Fax, what you just said is false.’ I drink some more gin and try to resist the urge to grab the remote and beat him to death with it.

Thanks to my amazing restraint, I only do the first part, while yelling a Fax that he’s a twat. Then I have a brainwave. I switch the TV off and on again at the plug. For a few nail-biting seconds there’s nothing but a blue screen. Then something goes right for once in my sorry, flea-bitten life, and I’m able to watch EastEnders. At least, once I’m able to tune out Joanne and Fax talking about ‘racism and Gaia-denial in Scrabble’.

Well?

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