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 get to a place called George something, which Joanne suggested because apparently they do ‘vegan chilli and some lovely hummus’. As soon as we get within sight of it, my stomach is battered by the smell of food. I am fucking starving. All around us are vans chucking out meat, and crepes, and chips. I might get all three, and put them in my mouth all at once.

One problem – between me and every item of food stand two dozen people in a queue. They’re only doing this to piss me off, they don’t really need food. Case in point – the two girls in front of me in the first queue I join, which promises to lead me to a van called ‘Burger City’. I challenge you to think of a place you’d want to live more than ‘Burger City’. I mean, if it was an actual city, not just a creaky van. I’ve spent long enough in a fucking burger van.

Anyway, the two lollipop sticks in front of me are discussing what to have.

‘I think I’m going to get a black coffee.’

‘Oh I’m probably just going to get a bottle of water.’

This is fine, because they’re obviously just discussing drinks. I mean, they’re obviously having burgers as well.

‘Are you getting anything to eat?’

‘No, I had a cous cous salad earlier. Are you?’

‘No, too greasy. I’ll just get the water.’

I want to stay in the queue, just on the off chance that these two will get to the front, and the proprietor will refuse to serve them for wasting his time. I’d love to think that would happen, but I know it won’t, so I shove my way over to the taco van. This time I can hear the man at the front. He’s about 102, and is ordering for himself and his wife.

‘Excuse me son, what’s an en-chil-alda?’

‘Does everything come with cheese? My wife’s not keen on cheese.’

‘Is that spicy? I can’t have spicy stuff since I had my operation…’

The poor bugger behind the counter is trying desperately to come up with something suitable, but they’re all ‘too spicy’, ‘they’ve got cheese’, or ‘Oh I don’t know about that, sounds a bit foreign’.

Then he keeps him talking for another five minutes, all about the lovely walk they’ve just had in the park. I give up, and try my luck at ‘La Poutine!’. I’m guessing they do poutine.

Meanwhile, Joanne and Fax have fucked off into the main, grass covered area, which looks a lot cleaner and less crowded, and generally nicer to be. This is where they keep the vegan food. Us meat eating barbarians must stand around on the pavement outside the gardens, that’ll learn us.

To my amazement, the queue at La Poutine! goes pretty quickly, and I’m at the front in ten minutes. I’d just expected to get chips ‘n’ gravy, I thought that’s what poutine was. Turns out there are all kinds of combos you can get. I go with cheese sauce and bacon bits. This time, I’m careful to ask the price first, in case one tray of chips is 80 fucking quid. Who am I kidding though, I’d have paid up anyway.

I get my steaming polystyrene tray of chips and head off to find Joanne and Fax. They’re sprawled out on deckchairs. Amazingly, they’ve thought to save me one. I flop down on it gratefully. Joanne eyes my poutine, as if she’s about to spout some bollocks about ‘no meat allowed in this bit’, but she doesn’t. Actually, I think she just wants some of my poutine. She might be a vegan in front of Fax, but when she’s had her bong I know for a fact she goes to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets. Joanne and Fax are eating from trays of what I suppose could be called chilli, if chilli was usually green. I don’t say anything.

It’s peaceful for a while. We eat in contented silence, then sit around taking in the atmosphere. I’m almost entirely sobered up now, so the early evening sunshine is quite nice.

We hear some music starting up in a nearby tent. I don’t have time to wonder what it is before we find out. Some comedian (I assume, otherwise he’s just on smack), comes skipping out of the tent with a microphone, singing the following:

‘I’m a racist, I’m a racist,
I voted for Brexit and I’m a twat
I don’t like foreign people, they smell
I just love football and me beer as well,
I’m a racist, I’m a racist…’

All three of us look up at the same time like confused chickens. As he skips through the gardens, people applaud him like he’s not going round saying he’s a massive racist. I’m have no idea what’s going on.

Joanne sees my confusion. ‘That’s Ian Jugs’ she whispers. God, do you never watch Dave? He’s on there all the time!’

‘What, so his routine is that he’s a racist? I don’t get it.’

‘No, no, it’s that he pretends to be a racist, and it’s really funny, and that’s his act.’

‘I see.’ I don’t see, but I’m not that bothered. I just hope this prick skips the fuck off and stops disturbing everyone. I shut my eyes and try to block out the singing until he’s gone back inside. The people around us are talking excitedly to each other as if they’d just seen the Aurora Borealis.

‘Oh my god did you see that?’

‘Oh fuck it was him! It was really him!’

‘Did you get a photo? Send it to my Insta!’

Ian Jugs carries on his nonsense inside, until we hear cheering, whooping, and cries for more. Ian Jugs doesn’t do any more, so the audience files out, past us:

‘That were a right fucking breath of fresh air!’

‘He tells it like it is that man, none of this PC bollocks.’

‘He’s nearly as good as Bernard Manning, that chap!’

‘Wait ‘til I tell that Irish one to the lads at the pub!’

Not once did I hear anything about his witty, post-modern irony. I suspect his fans aren’t who he thinks they are. I can’t help but be pleased at this, since he insisted on skipping past me and being fucking annoying.

My poutine was nice. Must get some more.

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