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Columnist Tom Taylor on the perils of burlesque!

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The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Last week I mentioned the work/ play contrast between comedians and civilians: when we’re at work, you’re at play. And vice versa.

Our working day, however, could be all of 20 minutes long, the length of a typical club set. I typically spend twice that time, every day, sat motionless on Skipton Road.

As such, we do like to gossip with the other acts on the bill.

There is not much joy to be had in getting out of the car, performing20 minutes of jokes and then getting back in the car.

However, that said, when no one laughs it can feel like you’ve been on stage for as long as The Mousetrap and, for that reason, comedians always park their cars facing home.

That way we can be safely on the M6 before the compère has announced the interval.

The hot topic of conversation this week is comedy and burlesque nights. There is a growing popularity for these shows coupled with a growing uneasiness that men are paid to tell jokes and women are paid to take their clothes off.

I did a comedy and burlesque show last year.

Although this is bound to upset some readers, I was the comedy (loosely termed) and, to my surprise, a man resembling Rowan Atkinson stretched into the gangling frame of Peter Crouch was introduced to me as the burlesque act.

To my horror, the organiser insisted Atkinson-Crouch was to take the stage first and, accordingly, I went back out into the carpark to see if a parking space facing home had become available.

What followed, when back in the Phoenix Nights inspired function room, was something out of a David Lynch film. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was a routine David would have left on the cutting room floor deeming it too nightmarish for public consumption.

It is amazing how ones tastes can change. Before this fated performance I would happily have described myself as someone who enjoyed the story and music of Phantom of the Opera.

However, I am fairly sure a six-foot-plenty man, with the face of Mr Bean, in a cape, dancing clumsily to a techno-remix of the title song before taking off all his clothes leaving just his nether regions tucked into a sports sock, would turn even the most devout Lloyd Webber fan.

To this day I still convulse when I hear an organ play those descending semiquavers and, like one of Pavlov’s pets, I always expect it to precede the words: “And now comedy with Tom Taylor.”

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns on Wednesday, March 12 with the critically acclaimed Tom Stade plus Sean Meo, Liam Williams and Aisling Bea.

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails

 

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