Room for a Laugh - The world of the Harrogate Advertiser Series’ columnist Tom Taylor, organiser of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in Nando’s New Comedian Of The Year 2014 at Edinburgh Fringe
I have never been much of a chap to cause a scene.
Aged 14 I once wreaked havoc with a particularly nifty spell of off spin bowling. That aside, I am a quiet, country mouse.
It will, therefore, be as much a shock to you, dear reader, as it is to me when I reveal I have a reputation.
“Reputation, reputation, reputation!” is certainly one of Will S’s most memorable lines, not in a poignantly meaningful sense, just that it is easy to remember.
Indeed, in any school essay concerning Othello and chums I would make sure to scribe something along the lines of: “In Act 2, Scene 3 Cassio says “Reputation, reputation, reputation!” which shows reputation meant a great deal to Cassio.”
I would then recline in my chair, topple over (for these school chairs were apathetic when called upon to support reclining), pick myself off the floor, reassemble aforementioned chair and then position myself on it as nonchalantly as possible whilst sat bolt upright.
Much to my surprise, I flunked the mock exam. The question was something along the lines of, ‘Discuss the role of women,’ an arena in which my nifty reputation quote didn’t so much as fall at the first hurdle as canter headlong into it, collapse in a blank stupor and begin crawling back to the start line.
Far from being lost, however, my reputation has been infamously gained. I am a classical concert wrecker.
This sideline began in 2010 when I was interning at the British Library. Some gent had bequeathed the BL a thousand Betamax tapes - I mean what else are you going to do with them? - and it was my job to assemble these rotters in date order before adorning their deceitful spines with C1308/0001 (for the first), C1308/0002 (for the second) and so on and so forth until my hand was bloodied and numb.
At the end of my placement, my hand recovered and hardened, my boss, Nathan, invited me to the Royal Albert to watch a leading Chopin interpreter interpret what he interpreted best.
And, in the interval, I followed Nathan backstage to meet the chap. In the modestly proportioned dressing room the two embraced with vigour and knowing and Nathan showed the acclaimed pianist a picture of himself on a beach. Oh to describe the photo! In short, where one might expect to see swimming trunks, or perhaps an auspiciously positioned fig leaf, there was nothing. I didn’t know whether to yelp or throw a doughnut.
Instead, I enacted neither, for this was the moment Nathan decided to introduce me.
A bead of sweat gathered on the Taylor brow. With a big, instructive movement - akin to a flight attendant’s safety routine - I made it stunningly clear I was going in for the handshake.
Much to my surprise the esteemed interpreter didn’t pick up on this and remained quite still. Unfazed, however, I collected his hand from next to his side and shook appreciatively. His cries of “he’s breaking my hand!” were, I felt, a trifle unnecessary.
As was the appearance of a security guard’s massive paw on my shoulder. Independent of outside influences I decided to terminate the handshake and it was explained to me that to interpret Chopin to such a high level required hands of the utmost floppiness, an exquisite state I would ruin with my iron clasp.
I stuttered an apology and the now recovering pianist turned to me and said, “You see, I do not have any bones in my hands.” To which I replied, “Well, there’s nothing for me to break then.”
l Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday, April 8 with Mike Gunn of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and recently returned from his national tour with Lee Mack, surrealist Noel James and Nish Kumar (Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience, Newsjack, The Now Show). Tickets and information at www.sittingroomcomedy.com. Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails.