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.

If I’m absolutely honest, I’m starting to doubt that finishing a pitcher of “Assblaster” before 6pm was a good idea. I’ve already fallen over once. The three of us are staggering up the street like we’ve lost our carer. Joanne’s got the improv leaflet in her hand, and she claims she’s taking us the right way, but she hasn’t once looked at the leaflet to see what the address is. There’s no point questioning her about this, because she’ll just claim she can “sense” when we’re there. In the meantime they’re walking ahead of me, having a bizarre mumbled conversation about rugby union. If either of those two know the first thing about rugby union I’ll shit in my hat. And I don’t even have a hat.

I must have misheard them; they can’t possibly be having a conversation about rugby union. Not those two. And why are they walking on ahead and leaving me out?

I plod a bit faster to catch up with them. ‘What are you two talking about?’

‘Using reiki as a healing tool for the genitals.’

‘Oh.’ You know what, I’m fine walking on my own.

I’m pleasantly surprised when we reach the venue without getting arrested or dying. I’m even more pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a normal improv show, and there’s no sign of us having to watch naked people or vegan poetry. I relax and head to the bar to see if this place does their own version of “Assblaster”.

I get back to our table with three plastic pints of lager, because fuck these prices. I’m fucking sick of paying £38.99 for a gin and tonic. Oh well, at least I’ll be back home tomorrow, although I will miss the battered Mars bars. Before that, I am determined to have one single evening where nothing goes on fire or makes Fax start crying.

‘…But you’re a natural leader Fax, you shouldn’t bow down to others’ expectations…’

‘Yes but it might go in people’s drinks, and then they’d be cross…’

What the fuck are they talking about. My money’s on it involving piss. One of Joanne’s talents is pissing in other people’s things. My poor Daniel O’Donnell mug.

‘But it will leave the audience feeling revived and ready to hear comedy!’

I resist the urge to chime in with ‘Fax – comedy – pick one’.

Joanne turns to me. Fax twiddles his hair.

‘I reckon it’s be good to sprinkle salt on the audience before Fax’s next show, what do you think?’

I drink half my lager while I consider her proposal. ‘You mean on the room and the chairs and stuff? Like, before anyone gets there?’

‘No, on the actual people, to energise them. I mean, don’t worry, it would be Himalayan rock salt.’

‘I see.’ I drink the other half of my lager.

‘So what do you think? You’d be fine with it wouldn’t you?’

Even as Joanne says this to me I can tell she’s not even convincing herself of this. I drink a bit of Joanne’s lager while I am thinking.

‘Well, I’ve given it some thought, and I think people in the audience will hurt you if you do that Joanne.’

‘God, don’t be such a drama queen!’ she snorts. She doesn’t call Fax a drama queen, even though he’s also disagreeing with her, and he’s the one twirling his hair.

‘I swear to god, and trust me on this, they will react as if you’ve thrown a whole Himalaya at them.’

‘Well that will make them pay attention…’

‘We’re not talking about an Alp Joanne! We’re talking about a Himalaya! How would you like it if someone threw a Himalaya at you, pointy end first? Also I don’t see how treating the audience like oven chips is going to make them feel “energised”. Their main emotions are more likely to be “furious” and “demanding a refund”. And maybe “thirsty”.’

‘Maybe we could just do a cleansing circle?’ offers Fax? I thought that’s what he’d been doing with his stupid wanky obsidian? Whatever. Whose turn is it to go to the bar?

Joanne strokes Fax’s sleeve. ‘I just want your show to go perfectly, because you deserve it.’ They simper at each other for a bit.
‘Oh, I know you do M’Lady, and you are such an inspiration…’

I need to sneeze, but I also need to fart. I heard that if you do both at the same time, at just the right angle, you do a backflip. I wonder if that’s true.

‘I’ll just send the audience energising reiki beams. Not that you need it, you’re so naturally talented…’

‘Atchooo.’ Nope, didn’t work. Joanne and Fax continue slopping over each other.

‘I heard there’s a rowan tree up Arthur’s Seat.’

Poor Arthur. I reckon it’s Joanne’s turn to go to the bar. I poke her. The way she looks at me you’d think I poked her with someone’s knob.

‘It’s your turn to go to the bar.’

‘No it fucking isn’t.’

‘Well I’ve just been.’

‘Yeah but then you drank some of my drink!’

‘Only because you were talking about chucking Alps at people!’

‘I wasn’t! I was talking about energising salt!’

Fax stands up. ‘M’Ladies shall have beverages. Melissa, what can I buy for you?’

I don’t want any more of that crap lager, but I think if I have another pitcher of anything like “Assblaster”, all my limbs will fall off.

‘Why don’t you surprise me? Get me something interesting,’ I reply. Fax beams. Clearly he’s taking this as a challenge.
‘Not Campari though, I don’t like Campari. And not mead.’

Fax’s face falls. But he soldiers on, like a brave little… soldier.

Fax returns with two pints of lager, and a Campari for himself.

‘I got you premium lager! It’s called Stella Artois, and it’s French. It’s what I buy M’Lady, only the best for her.’

I’m familiar with Stella. I suspect Fax isn’t. So that’s why Joanne’s been demanding Stella and then getting into fights with people. Although I’m not sure throwing flumps at someone’s face counts as a fight. It’s more of an art piece.

‘I couldn’t get you a proper goblet though M’Lady, they would only supply me with these.’

He hands her a plastic pint glass. He plops my plastic glass down on the table with no apology. I might be really upset about this for all he knows. I toy with the idea of acting really offended at the plastic glass, just for something to do, but then two things happen:

1: I remember I’d been drinking out of a plastic glass before and didn’t give a shit. Fax might not fall for my ruse, even though he is a div.

2: The lights are dimming and the show’s starting, so I make do with a plastic glass of Stella. At least Joanne’s probably not going to be throwing Alps at people, and if she does, I won’t be around to see it.

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