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
I think comedians can struggle to make friends. For starters, what on earth has possessed you to walk onto stage and seek the approval of a room full of total strangers? Or, occasionally, a half-full room of total strangers?
Or, as happened to me at a gig I did last week, the landlord, one stranger, the stranger’s cat and an enthusiastic jukebox machine!
On top of that - we’re at work when you’re at play.
And vice versa.
When you’re at work, we’re sat watching daytime telly trying to free our hands and lower arms from Pringles tubes having plunged down past the point of no return in search of those final salt flavoured discs. Why didn’t we pour them into a bowl?
When you’re at play, and readying yourself for a nice evening or weekend with friends, we are driving to Sutton Coldfield to (possibly) entertain strangers and share a chicken burger with a motorway maintenance worker whose flashing traffic cones of doom have added an extra hour onto our journey along the A1’s hard shoulder.
Therefore, when it comes to love – yes, love, never say these columns aren’t topical, providing you read this tomorrow – we’re enthusiastic in our attempts to sustain any relationship we’ve managed to stumble into.
Cue the story of Freddy, whose real name is Steve, but who I shall refer to as Freddy for the sake of anonymity
Freddy was not keen to meet Laura’s family but, petrified of loneliness, agreed to spend Easter weekend with them (that bit’s less topical I grant you).
So, late evening, after a Friday night gig, Freddy drove himself and Laura to the pad of his potential in-laws determined to make a good impression. Laura’s family numbered 23, mainly elderly relatives, all housed in a Downton-esque structure with liberal wood-panelling and corridors lined with ancient family portraits that all, to some degree, looked like horses in frilly ruffs.
Arriving at ‘Downton’ some seven hours after the dinner gong had sounded, Freddy and Laura were shown quickly to separate rooms by Laura’s mother. You expected a butler, I know, but there are limits.
After undressing and collapsing into bed, Freddy’s bladder made itself known and so Freddy stumbled into the dark corridor and contemplated a dozen or so identical wooden doors.
Keen not to turn his first night into a romping bedroom farce where he lunged, semi-nude, in and out of the bedrooms and wardrobes of elderly in-laws before tripping over the vicar’s cassock into an unfortunately placed blancmange, Freddy sensibly returned to his own room and, in a moment of logical thinking, looked under his antique bed on the off-chance that an antique chamber pot resided there.
An antique chamber pot did reside there and so, relieved both physically and mentally, Freddy slept soundly through the breakfast gong and was jolted awake at 9.31 by Laura’s mother hammering at his door.
Alarmed by the overpowering smell emanating from under his bed, Freddy grabbed the chamber pot, opened the window and flung the contents out into the morning air.
In a moment of pride - a pride, I assume, that only overcomes men - Freddy marvelled at how much he had passed in the night for the chamber pot now felt significantly lighter in his hand.
Smiling to himself, Freddy retracted his hand which, he noticed, now held one pot handle, unattached to anything else.
People talk a lot about life changing sounds: a Canadian waterfall, the first cry of a newborn, the football results etc. For Freddy, the remainder of his life will be forever haunted by the sound of chamber pot and contents crashing through a conservatory roof and onto the heads of twenty-three potential in-laws.
l Following a sold-out show last night, Sitting Room Comedy Club returns on Wednesday, March 12 with circuit legend Tom Stade and full support.
l Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails