New column - The world of Tom Taylor, MC of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Are you sitting comfortably? Good, I’ll begin. Harrogate has a hidden drinking problem, it seems. I read this in an article last week so the hiding can’t have worked out so well.
I can empathise. We used to play hide and seek in the playground at primary school in Harrogate.
You know school playgrounds? Those large, open expanses of asphalt. Unless you bore a striking resemblance to a penalty spot or a netball post you were a sitting duck.
In the right light my friend Toby could pass for a bollard but we soon became wise to that.
There were no other bollards in the playground and he rarely stood in the same spot two lunchtimes running.
Nonetheless, his height (lack of) and hairstyle (mother’s fruit bowl) made for an impressive winning streak.
Drinking is less hidden at comedy clubs. In fact, it’s enthusiastically facilitated in fish bowls and other repossessed animal homes.
Students are particularly fond of drinking from receptacles you could bob for apples in and, thusly, for comedians, student comedy nights are as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
Except the fish have been evicted and replaced by schnapps so, in truth, they can be quite difficult.
Comedian Mike Gunn, who performed as part of my Sitting Room stand-up comedy club in Harrogate last year, recounted to me a student night he played where he was about as popular as Betamax.
After serving his time, Mike hurried off stage and straight into the auditorium’s adjoining bar, keen to be 10 miles down the M6 before the compère had announced the upcoming interval.
Unfortunately the venue’s only exit lay the other side of 400 well-oiled students so, as any fully grown adult would do in such a situation, Mike pulled open the doors of the dumb waiter, removed the soiled crockery and folded himself into the metal compartment with the ease and elegance of Debbie McGee had she been a hulking great prop forward.
Once inside, Mike asked the bar staff to lower him to the basement from where he would make his escape.
Encouraged, Mike then slammed the doors shut and awaited his imminent descent to freedom. After what he judged to be time enough to reach the basement, Mike slid open the doors and peered out into what, at first glance, appeared to be the same bar.
Second, third and fourth glances supported this and widened his field of vision to include five smirking bar staff plus a few hundred students confirming between themselves that this was, indeed, the same comedian they had seen just two minutes earlier - and hadn’t he taken it badly!
Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday,, February 12 with Paul Tonkinson (Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow) headlining.
Full details can be found at www.sittingroomcomedy.com