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.

Fax is back to his usual prancing self when we meet up again. He seems to have forgotten that a few hours ago he was standing on a stage crying over a balloon. No sign of the velvet suit, but Fax does seem to have an infinite supply of shirts he imagines make him look like a Catherine Cookson hero, so he’s OK. We make our way to the nearest pub to inspect some more leaflets, and decide what this evening’s quality entertainment will be. I feel like I should choose because I’m going home tomorrow. When I put this to Joanne and Fax they agree without argument, surprising me for the second time this afternoon.

We sit there sorting through the assorted miniature billboards of shite. Subconsciously, I’m looking for one that will lead me to the annoying guy on the poster, who I’ve come to think of as my arch-nemesis. I’m still mad that I never got to write “I AM A HUGE TWAT” on his forehead. If I’m really lucky I can find out where he is this evening, then sneak up on him and write it on his real forehead, in permanent marker. That’ll learn him.

The more we look through the leaflets, the more indifferent I start to feel towards any plans for tonight. It all seems to be the same crap.

‘Actually guys, all I’m really bothered about is going somewhere normal, to see something half decent. As long as we do that I’m not really fussed.’ Before they can answer, I continue. ‘And that means no shit poetry, no fat women’s tits, and ideally nothing we can get kicked out of. I just want a bit of a drink and a laugh. That’s what this festival’s supposed to be for.’

Sadly I realise Joanne and Fax’s idea of “a bit of a laugh” is different to mine. I can’t rely on them to suggest something that isn’t “stick crystals up your bum”, so it’s going to be up to me to find something.

I get all the leaflets into a big pile and get to work, discarding the following words:

-Wacky

-Zany (no sign of my arch-nemesis, I checked)

-Climate change (this will lead to bald women shouting at me)

-Political

-Feminist (this will lead to fat women waving their flaps at me)

-Thought provoking

-Belgium (This is at Fax’s insistence. Why is never explained.)

This doesn’t leave us with much, so we settle on an improv thing round the corner. It’s not on for ages, so we’ve got plenty of time to kick back and get a bit shitfaced. I could do with that after my brush with the law this afternoon.

Me and Fax go to the bar, because Fax insists on ‘treating M’Ladies to beverages’, and I can’t choose between scampi and a burrito. What I’d really like is another battered Mars bar. I wonder if they put something addictive in them? They probably don’t, I mean Mars Bars and batter are addictive enough, they don’t need to wander round injecting heroin into them.

Fax gets a Campari, continuing his quest to be the most homosexual man in Scotland. Joanne has ordered vodka and coke (no Stella, thank God, I don’t like how she gets on Stella). I settle on scampi and chips, with red sauce. Since Fax is paying for the drinks, I get a pitcher of “assblaster”, which promises to be the most lethal cocktail known to man. I’m sceptical of this claim when I see it contains Tizer. This pitcher is, of course, to be shared between the three of us. I mean, of course.
While we’re waiting for our drinks, I demand to know how Fax ended up being a contestant on Nonsense!. He sighs and twiddles his hair.

‘A bit of a misunderstanding I’m afraid. You are not to blame.’

At no point did I ever suggest I was ‘to blame’.

‘I had believed it was more of an “awaken your inner child” type of affair.’

‘What made you think that?’

‘Well, you know, the childish gaiety of the leaflet…’

‘…’

‘Fun and frolics, I thought it would involve more free-flowing dancing…’

‘…’

‘M’Lady thought it would be a lovely surprise for you…’

‘… I don’t think she quite knew what it was either, to be fair.’

He starts twiddling his hair again, but more angrily. ‘I must confess, I didn’t expect it to be quite as barbaric as it was.’

‘It was my favourite show when I was a kid,’ I explain. ‘Didn’t you ever watch stuff like that on a Saturday morning?’

He looks at me as if I’d suggested he spent his childhood shitting in half-built Barratt homes. ‘No, I didn’t watch television. My mother always said that only rough boys watched television on a weekend. She always encouraged my sister and I to practice hobbies instead.’

So that’s why Fax is so good at knitting.

When we get back to the table, I can’t stop thinking about Fax’s sister and what she’s like. I was going to ask him but the barman came back with our drinks, so the moment was lost. I can’t stop thinking about his sister, who in my mind is now “Fax with tits”. In my head she’s keeping the beard.

As soon as our drinks are sorted out, I quiz Fax about his sister.

‘Her name’s Paula, she lives in Dundee.’

‘Dundee, that’s in Scotland!’ Considering I’ve already had three gulps of “Assblaster”, I’d say that was quite the observation from me. ‘Are you going to go see her?’

He looks down at his beermat. ‘No, we don’t quite get on these days.’ Joanne strokes his sleeve.

Two things occur to me then:

1: Fax didn’t mention his brother in our little barside chat, who he apparently has a tattoo of.

2: I never did find out if Fax’s brother really does look like Jason Donovan, or if Fax just has a really shit tattoo of him that looks like Jason Donovan.

‘Well, at least you get on with your brother.’

Fax looks at his arm, then remembers. ‘Oh yeah, Guy! Yeah we are quite close. We talk nearly every week.’

‘What’s he like?’

If there are two Faxes in the world I’m not going to be able to process it, especially if one of the Faxes looks like Jason Donovan.

‘Well, I’ve never actually met Guy, but I wanted to feel close to him, that’s why I got my tattoo. When we first started talking he sent me a photo.’

He pulls a photo out of his wallet and hands it to me. It’s a photo of Jason Donovan. I mean, it really is a photo of Jason Donovan. If I’m not mistaken, this is the cover of Jason Donovan’s seminal work “Too Many Broken Hearts”, put through a scanner.

Now my piss and Tizer-addled brain has too much to think about. Is his brother Jason Donovan undercover? Does he just look really, really like Jason Donovan? Did a scammer pretend to be Fax’s brother? Why the fuck would you pretend to be Fax’s brother?

None of these questions are answered in my head. I go to the loo to think about what my next move should be. The loo is full of pissed up women laughing and putting make up on. None of them look like they’d be able to tell me what to do about Fake Jason Donovan. I go to a cubicle for a nice piss and a think.

‘This is the second time today that you’ve failed to solve a problem by sitting in a toilet cubicle.’

Yes thank you brain, and so far you’ve failed to be any help with either problem, so just fuck off.

‘I thought you’d want my help.’

No I fucking don’t because you never come up with anything good when I need it, because you’re a bastard.

‘Well it’s your fault I’m a bastard.’

Brain, I will glass myself in the face until you die, is that what you want?

‘…’

Well is it? No, I didn’t think so. So just keep quiet and let me figure this out on my own.

So, either Fax has a long lost brother who used to be a body double for Jason Donovan on album covers, or Fax’s brother has sent him a fake picture. Or Fax’s brother is a Nigerian scammer who got money out of him. I can’t figure out which one makes the least sense. I resolve to march back to the table and ask Fax about this.

I march back to the table, falling over the table as I do so. This removes some gravitas from my original plan.

Once I’m back on my chair I continue with the plan. ‘Fax, why does your brother look so much like Jason Donovan?’

Joanne and Fax start laughing. ‘He works as a body and face double for him!’ I’m still confused.

‘So, that wasn’t actually Jason Donovan in his videos? That was your brother Guy?’

‘Videos? Yes. Remember Under Siege? That was Guy. And Predator? That was Guy as well.’

‘And he was filling in for Jason Donovan’s roles in those films?’

‘Yes!’ They’re still laughing.

‘Oh I get it now. Who was it that Jason Donovan played in Under Siege?’

‘I don’t know, I didn’t watch it.’

‘Oh wait, it was ‘Captain Lance-Corporal Alan Fuckingham’.’

‘yes, that’s it!’

The pair of them are absolutely lying. The problem is that now I’m getting confused, because with every hard-hitting question I put to Fax, I’m having a gulp of “Assblaster”. Even so, I’m pretty certain that Jason Donovan didn’t play “Captain Lance-Corporal Alan Fuckingham” in Under Siege. But I can’t be absolutely certain that anyone played “Captain Lance-Corporal Alan Fuckingham” in Under Siege. So I’m kind of caught.

I’m so confused. I have another big gulp of “Assblaster” and decide to drop the subject for now, but I vow to carry on believing that Fax’s “long lost brother” is really a Nigerian scammer. This is the kind of thing that’s going to keep me awake at night.

Well?

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