Tom Taylor: For the love of peri peri chicken

Sitting Room Comedy Club's Tom Taylor. (Picture by Jane Hobson)
Sitting Room Comedy Club's Tom Taylor. (Picture by Jane Hobson)

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

Tonight I am performing in a comedy competition sponsored by a popular chain of peri peri chicken restaurants where the prize is £500 of peri peri chicken vouchers and the warm glow of satisfaction and/or an expanding gut.

I promised myself just two months ago that my competing days were over after I performed in a prestigious semifinal to complete silence.

For 12 minutes.

I cannot convey through written word quite how quiet complete silence is. I have never felt silence like it.

It was silence that probed the very core of your being before slapping you silently in the face whilst miming the words “you’re not funny.”

But I love chicken. Without a doubt it is the way to my saturated fat lined heart.

It all fits into our wider love for talent shows. And talentless shows where ordinary (if desperate) folk and penniless celebrities can provide us all with a jolly good titter.

And please don’t think I am preaching or in any way above this, I spent three years studying for a music degree and am now singing silly songs in the hope I might win some chicken. And hopefully some halloumi cheese.

One of my favourite programmes in recent years was Maestro, a conducting talent show featuring “famous amateurs with a passion for music”.

Conducting, however, obviously came second fiddle (this feels like it could almost be a pun) to a series of Generation Game style tasks presented by the husk of Clive Anderson.

Six hours of largely non-musical celebrity figures conducting an orchestra does not make for an entertaining television series.

As such, Clive familiarises the viewing public with the importance of co-ordination within conducting.

Cue footage of Jane Asher tapping her head and rubbing her tummy whilst Peter Snow stands at a whiteboard failing to draw a square with his right hand and a triangle with his left but succeeding in creating a conglomerate of scribbles Alberto Giacometti would be happy to call a portrait.

Body language is also important in creating a desired sound. A good opportunity for dance teacher Claire to be brought in and for Goldie to prance around a large classroom in a Tai Chi like manner.

A verifiably useful skill as the vast majority of conducting rostrums are 20 by 30 foot and can accommodate expansive interpretative dance routines.

Ultimately, queen of BBC light entertainment, Sue Perkins, arm waved her way to success and, as with my edible prize, she was awarded the opportunity to eat lots of cake.

She also conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra at the 2008 Proms in the Park.

The Maestro contestants had it easy though, viewers knew what they were watching and had the choice, should they be foolish enough, to switch channels.

Having just reread my booking email, this evening I will be performing in the corner of a restaurant to any unfortunate being who has happened to pick tonight as the night they dine on peri peri chicken.

Twelve minutes of complete silence will be replaced with 12 minutes of chicken gnawing, chip chewing and coleslaw munching. What a soundscape.

I do love chicken though.

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Tuesday, July 15 with their annual ‘Stand-Up for Charity’ show supporting Yorkshire Cancer Research. TV regulars and circuit legends Andrew Lawrence and Justin Moorhouse present their new solo shows plus Phil Ellis as compère.

Tickets and more information are available at

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails