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.

It’s just gone 9 when I get back to the flat, feeling more like a squeezed-out dishcloth with every minute that passes. Joanne and Fax are in the kitchen eating muesli. This is one of the most normal things I’ve ever walked in on them doing – normally they’re naked or trying to summon Mesopotamian gods. Maybe eating muesli is just part of the ritual. I’m onto them.

Fax jumps up to greet me, which takes me by surprise. ‘Oh Melissa, we are glad you’re OK!’

‘OK’ is an optimistic term, but I’m alive if that’s what he means. I just nod, then immediately regret nodding, because nodding makes my headache a hundred times worse. I need some solpadeine.

‘And where did you get to last night, madam?’ snorts Joanne. She’s incredibly relaxed for someone who thought I was dead an hour ago. I ignore her as I root around in the cupboard for painkillers and a gun to shoot myself with.

‘Don’t be shy, tell us all about your new boyfriend!’

‘He’s not my boyfriend.’

‘He said he was!’

‘Well he’s not, he’s just… a guy I met.’

‘Where did you meet him?’ she demands.

‘Jesus who are you my dad? I met him yesterday, and we went out for a drink.’

‘But what about…’

‘Jesus Christ Joanne I have been through the door twelve fucking seconds. If you do not stop talking about this and let me concentrate on my hangover I will kick you in the face.’

She’s about to get arsey, so I head her off by addressing Fax. ‘Are you looking forward to your debut?’

That does the trick. ‘Oh I’m so nervous! I plan to dab rosemary oil on my crown chakra just before I go on stage though.’

‘Oh good.’

‘Mel! Listen to this one.’ Joanne’s forgotten the fact that I threatened to kick her in the face a minute ago, and wants to read me some of Fax’s new material. ‘If doctors are so good at curing people, how come they never once use crystals?’

I honestly don’t know what my reaction to this is supposed to be. I don’t do anything for a minute in case there’s a punchline. There isn’t a punchline. That was the punchline.

‘I’m… I’m not sure I understand that one.’

She looks at me as if she’s teaching a special needs class. ‘You know, doctors!’

‘Oh that. Right, yeah.’

I turn my attention back to the cupboard. A-ha! Nurofen! I eat three of those and make a coffee.

‘What time are we going?’

‘Well,’ says Fax. ‘My show officially starts at 3, but I want to get there in plenty of time to do my affirmations and cleanse the vibrations in the room.’

‘I’m going to help him with that,’ adds Joanne smugly.

‘So I’d like to get there an hour early.’

‘Fine by me,’ I yawn. ‘I’m going to grab a couple of hours before we go.’

I take my coffee into the bedroom, where it sits untouched on the bedside table. I lie down and shut my eyes, trying very hard to ignore the smell of cough medicine and tequila in my hair.

I feel a lot better when I wake up, until I remember that we’ll have someone else joining us this afternoon. My still piss-addled brain starts to worry about what will happen if Andrew Lincoln really does turn up at Fax’s gig, like Fax and Joanne threatened all those months ago, and thinks I already have a boyfriend? I dismiss this thought as stupid and crap.

I doze back off until I’m woken up again by what sounds a bit like opera singing, only not really. Imagine if Pavarotti was having a fight with someone outside the Spar. Then there’s some banging. I’d better investigate in case those two have managed to somehow get arrested without leaving the flat.

Fax is standing there in an orange dress, yelling vowels. Joanne is waving a stick at him like a conductor.

‘Heart chakra?’

‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!’

‘Throat chakra alignment! Remember to bring up energy through the feet…

‘UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!’

That one sounds like he’s having a poo. And I’ve heard Fax having a poo. I might be imagining it, but I think he’s also doing bodybuilding poses. Although it’s hard to tell, that dress is very loose and billowy.

Fax spots me in the doorway. ‘Namaste!’

Joanne turns round. ‘Oh, I’m just helping Fax do his pre-show preparation.’

I am really fucking glad he’s not going to be doing this in the pub. ‘What’s with the dress?’

She tuts. ‘It is not a dress, it is an energising kaftan.’ She turns back to Fax. ‘I think I might have to get a new rowan wand soon, the energy in this one isn’t as strong as it used to be.’

I leave them to it and get myself ready to go out. What outfit best says ‘I know we had sex but I don’t really like you so please keep 1-2 feet away from me at all times’? I decide my jeans with the barbecue sauce stains on them give the right impression. Right, purse, phone, nurofen. I decide not to take my rolling pin or any other makeshift weapon. I haven’t had much use for it since we got here.

‘Mel are you ready?’

You know how I said I was glad Fax wasn’t going to be wearing his orange dress to the pub? I’m only slightly sticking with that now I’ve seen his gig outfit. He’s decked out in a purple velvet suit, with runes embroidered on the lapels. He’s decided to team this suit with his brown sandals. He looks like a British Legion compere who’s had a bang on the head.

‘This is so exciting!’ screeches Joanne. ‘I always knew Fax would be famous one day!’ I’ve got to agree with her there, except that A) he isn’t famous, and B) if he does end up famous, it’ll be because he’s on the news.

Our merry band heads off towards the city centre. Because it’s Edinburgh, no one notices our sparkly velvet colleague. On the way I spot that bloody awful poster again. Whenever I see it I want to find the guy and make him eat Cillit Bang until he dies. He’s doing what he thinks is a ‘wacky, fun comedy pose’, like he’s dad-running towards the camera. And he’s winking. As I get closer to the poster, I realise at least one other person in Edinburgh shares my sentiment, because someone’s written ‘TWAT’ on his forehead. This makes me smile for the first time today.

Well?

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