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.

I’m not sure how to feel about this turn of events. On one hand, it’s obviously hilarious. On the other hand, I’m not sure Fax understands what the show involves. And on the other hand (that I keep for best), I’m a bit worried about what Joanne will do to Dave Nonsense if anything happens to Fax. Like if he starts crying because he gets a question wrong. Thank fuck he isn’t wearing his purple suit today. Apparently he’s not allowed to clog up the pub with his shite on weekends, therefore no show today, so he’s opted for his usual outfit of linen and big sleeves.

I spin round and glare at Joanne. She shrugs, as in ‘well I tried to tell you’. She did nothing of the sort. Joanne takes one of my flumps, and settles back in her seat.

Meanwhile, Fax is attempting to explain his stand-up show to a bemused Dave Nonsense. Dave is nodding along and looking round frantically. Joanne is now standing up in her seat and cheering for Fax. She is the only one.

Dave Nonsense manages to head Fax off from launching into a monologue about rowan trees:

‘Ok boys and girls, let’s… play… NONSENSE!’

The crowd stands up and screams.

‘Right, this is how we play Nonsense. Our silly contestants answer a question…’

Screaming intensifies. I may have joined in at this point, I can’t tell.

‘And if they get the question wrong, they have to spin the…’

‘WHEEL OF SEAFOOD!’

Oh my god this was my absolute favourite thing. The Wheel of Seafood always means something good.

‘If the wheel lands on “prawns”, they win a prize!’

More cheering as Dave Nonsense holds up what looks like a shit key ring.

‘But if the wheel lands on “lobster”, then oh dear… they have to do a Super Stupid Forfeit!’

Some of the audience might need an ambulance at this point, I’m not sure. I think I might do. I don’t even care that 200 year old Dave Nonsense has obviously forgotten he’s already been through the rules.

I get it together enough to feel an elbow in my ribs. ‘Look. Look!’

Does she really think I haven’t noticed Fax on the fucking stage?

‘What is he doing there!’ I hiss. ‘He’s never even seen it!’

‘He has!’ she hisses back. ‘He’s promoting his show!’

‘So he’s OK to get gunged?’

She turns round and smiles at me. ‘Don’t be silly, he won’t get gunged.’

‘Jo, every fucker gets gunged on this show, that’s the point!’

She’s not taking any notice of me, she’s turned her attention back to Fax. Fine, fuck the pair of them.

A trombone reverberates through the theatre, which signals the start of round one.

‘Ok then, question one goes to Nicole – all roads lead to where?’

Nicole thinks about it for a solid minute. ‘Rome?’

‘FALSE!’ yells Dave Nonsense, as a trombone shits out. ‘The correct answer is “No they don’t”!’

The audience cheers as Nicole spins the Wheel of Seafood. It lands on “Prawns”. Dave hands her a teabag. Nicole and all of her mong uni friends cheer.

Dave turns to Fax. I clench. ‘OK Fax – what year is your birthday?’

‘198-’

‘WRONG! The answer is “every year!” Spin the wheel!’

‘You didn’t let me finish!’ argues Fax.

‘The answer is “every year”!’ You silly sausage!’

‘No, you’re wrong! Look, I must…’

Oh Christ he’s not going to start arguing with Dave Nonsense is he? My bum muscles start shrivelling up.

Dave Nonsense mutters something to Fax. Fax spins the wheel, despite Dave Nonsense looking a bit apprehensive.

‘Prawns!’

Fax wins a pencil. Joanne is screeching. My bum muscles unclench as I realise Fax has put off the inevitable forfeit for a couple of minutes.

Joanne turns to me. ‘I think he’s winning! Do you want a flump?’

I don’t bother pointing out to her that A) the point of this game isn’t to win, it’s to get gunged, and B) those are my bastard Flumps she’s stolen.

Dave Nonsense turns back to Nicole with obvious relief. ‘Okey dokey, question two – knock knock?’

‘Who’s there?’ giggles Nicole.

‘Nope, the correct answer is “No one’s in”!’ He turns to us. ‘What do we do now?’

‘SPIN THE WHEEL!’

Nicole does as instructed. ‘Lobster!’

Nicole laughs and claps, but I can see Fax looking worried on her behalf. He peers into the audience, no doubt trying to spot Joanne so she can help him win by aligning his bum meridian.

Dave Nonsense’s helper (possibly Mrs Dave) brings on a huge bowl of something, then hurries off the stage looking flushed.

‘Right you silly sausage, this forfeit is called “Faster Pasta”. The aim is to eat as much of this spaghetti bolognese as you can in 30 seconds… without using your hands! I’ll be the final judge of how much pasta you’ve scoffed. Ready… set… GO!’

This time the trombone music is drowned out by yells of encouragement from the audience. Fax watches on, looking confused and ever so slightly green. To give Nicole her credit, she doesn’t seem to mind getting Bolognese sauce in her hair and up her nose. This is what human beings were designed to do on a Saturday morning.

At the end of the 30 seconds, Nicole looks to have done very well. Most of the audience have sore throats; we’re not used to yelling at a stranger eating pasta any more. Dave Nonsense decides Nicole has escaped getting gunged for now. Cue a few boos from the audience, and from Nicole, to her credit. She’s got her priorities right. I’m starting to like Nicole, and to root for her. Implying I was ever rooting for Fax.

Fax’s turn, and also time for my bum muscles to shut up shop again. Why the hell did he agree to this? And, more to the point, why did Dave Nonsense agree to this? Like how did Fax manage to wangle being a contestant? I’m probably being stupid, but I can’t completely disregard the possibility of Joanne having murdered the original contestant. I’m not sure who they thought this morning’s events would benefit, certainly not Fax.

Speaking of which, he’s currently struggling with his question, which is ‘What is 2 + 2?’. He’s worked out that the answer is probably not 4, and now the cogs in his brain are desperately whirring. He still hasn’t grasped that the point is to get the questions wrong. This is because Fax has never seen Saturday morning kids’ TV, on account of how he wasn’t born on this planet.

Failing to come up with any other answer, Fax tentatively suggests ‘4’.

‘Nope! The answer is “2 + 2 is a sum”! Spin the wheel!’

To no fucker’s surprise, this time the wheel lands on “lobster”. Fax looks like he wants to start arguing again, but Dave Nonsense heads him off.

‘Uh oh, that means another Super Stupid Forfeit!’

Everyone but Joanne and Fax cheers. Mrs Dave brings out a bag of balloons. This is a good sign – at least Fax isn’t going to have to get dinner down his shirt.

‘Right Fax, the name of this forfeit is “Get Stuffed”. It’s easy peasy – all you have to do is stuff as many of these balloons up your top as you can in 30 seconds.’

I hope the balloons aren’t all full of static, for the sake of Fax’s hair, and also his wood meridian.

One of Joanne’s piercing screeches of encouragement must have got through to Fax, because a look of determination appears on his face, and he points a thumbs up in our direction.

‘Ready… set… GO!’

Fax gets a total of one balloon up his shirt before he starts complaining to Dave Nonsense about ‘this is hand-woven linen and I don’t want to get it stretched’. I assume that’s what he’s saying anyway – I make out the words ‘loom’ and ‘barbaric’ anyway. By the time he’s finished complaining, the 30 seconds are up, and the audience starts yelling for gunge. I find myself joining in with them, despite Joanne nipping my arm. Fuck off Joanne.

Dave Nonsense decides he’s had enough of Fax’s shit. ‘Oh dear Fax, as the judge, I judge that that was rubbish! You know what this means?’

‘GUNGE GUNGE GUNGE GUNGE GUNGE GUNGE!’

I’m not sure what emotion I should currently be getting ready to have. I’m still yelling along with the rest of the audience.

‘As the winner of this round, Nicole gets to help me do the honours!’

Dave Nonsense and Nicole each pick up a bucket of green slop and advance towards Fax, but Fax is having none of it. A thrilling chase round the stage begins. However, it doesn’t occur to him to actually leave the stage, so the chase comes to a relatively quick end. The audience erupts as Nicole and Dave Nonsense empty the buckets of green slop over Fax. Fax screams and then starts crying.

‘YOU CAN’T DO THAT!’ yells Joanne, ignoring the fact that A) they can and B) they have. I turn to Joanne, intending to call her a fucking idiot, but she’s already halfway to the stage. Oh fucking hell she’s in full skirt-whirling mode.

‘You cheated you cheating bitch!’ yells Joanne, as she starts throwing flumps at Nicole and Dave Nonsense. I never said she could throw my flumps at Dave Nonsense. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what to do with myself at this point. Before I can figure that part out, I find myself watching Dave Nonsense, hero of my childhood, attempting to break up a slapping bitch-fight between Joanne and Nicole. This is not how I’d expected this morning to pan out. Fax is still standing there crying, like a five year old who’s accidentally pissed himself.

Joanne and Fax are ejected from the stage by a couple of helpful audience members. After all, no one expected to need security at this show. They disappear off somewhere, and Dave Nonsense suggests the helpful audience members might like to be the next set of contestants. Cheers all round, and eventually we settle back down to watch the rest of the show. A couple of people look at Joanne’s empty seat, then at me. I just shrug and shake my head. I’ve never met them before in my life.

Well?

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