Column: Room for a Laugh with Tom Taylor
My current whim is that I am an actor. We are all actors, to some degree, at various stages of our lives.
“How do you like my homemade courgette cake, Harold?” we are regularly asked (if our name is Harold or the host is awful at getting people’s names right and/or correctly identifying someone’s gender).
“Oh, it’s delicious, this has to be one of the nicest courgette cakes I’ve ever had,” we say, discretely feeding it to a nearby dog/plant pot/bin, “It’s just so … courgettey.”
I mean, I do it pretty much every day anyway, so 20 consecutive days in a theatre in front of a paying audience shouldn’t be a problem.
Any acting training, Tom? Well, I wouldn’t have thought that’s overly necessary.
In the words of the great Dean Learner (Richard Ayoade’s seminal role in Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace): “I am self taught. In fact, I have made it a point of honour never to learn anything from anyone else.”
So I am currently staring blankly at a fifty page script which needs to be memorised and reasoning to myself that many of the words – like and, the, rhino etc. – are frequently repeated so, actually, when you break it down, I don’t have that many words to learn.
I’ll just guess which order they go in without hesitation, deviation or repetition.
The rehearsals are hilarious and the laughs come thick and fast, many of them unintended and at great physical pain, but when an audience read “the laughs come thick and fast” on the poster they don’t need to know the quote’s context.
The poster blurb also says “P.G. Wodehouse meets Agatha Christie” which is meant stylistically - it is a murder mystery starring a Bertie Wooster-like detective - however I fear some audience members will be disappointed neither Aggers nor P.G. make an actual appearance.
Others may just assume it’s a wordy age rating.
Or a sponsored strapline for a new blend of tea.
Having read all the above you may, dear reader, have concerns over my performance and that is understandable. Live entertainment is dangerous and that is precisely why it is so thrilling.
Will the actors forget their lines?
Will the set collapse?
Will the tech guy get in a muddle again and play the hip hop dance track over the poignant funeral scene?
That being said, one can never be too careful when it comes to an audience. I once attended a production of Cats and, at the interval, overheard one friend say to another, “I’m confused, I didn’t think it would actually be about, well, cats.”
More examples, m’lord? May I present:
“I wanna see that Henry Vee.”
“No honey, that’s a Roman numeral. It’s pronounced Henry Five”
Plus, at Jesus Christ Superstar: “Well, I didn’t expect it to end like that.”
Whilst over at Waiting for Godot: “He won’t come, you know – his name’s not in the programme.”
And, to conclude, a personal favourite:
“Where are the toilets?”
“Top of the stairs on your level.” “… and where will they be at the interval?”
l Tom Taylor’s The Game’s a Foot, Try the Fish – described as a hilarious one-man murder mystery where the laughs come thick and fast – performs daily at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from Friday, August 5, to Saturday, August 27. More details are available from www.charliemontagueplay.com.
l Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate, on Wednesday, July 13, for the fifth birthday show with past club favourites Simon Evans (Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow), Jason Cook (creator and star of Hebburn, Dave’s One Night Stand, Russell Howard’s Good News) and Tom Taylor on hosting duties.
Tickets and more information are available from www.sittingroomcomedy.com or at the venue.