Tom Taylor’s column: Glory of TV’s Escape to the Country!

Comedian and Harrogate Advertiser columnist Tom Taylor.performing at the Edinburgh Fringe at the final of  Foster's So You Think You're Funny? (Picture by Steve Ullathorne)
Comedian and Harrogate Advertiser columnist Tom Taylor.performing at the Edinburgh Fringe at the final of Foster's So You Think You're Funny? (Picture by Steve Ullathorne)

Room for a Laugh - 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

Obviously as a promoter, a performer and, perhaps most notably, someone who can happily spend an afternoon, evening and early morning watching YouTube videos that can be loosely termed comedy, I see a lot of faces and read a lot of names.

Last week, I gigged with Nick Page. This may spark immediate recognition for some of you or, indeed, absolutely nothing.

He seemed familiar but I knew we had never gigged together before as I have an Excel spreadsheet of all my gigs, their performers and a note as to how well I did or how the audience was made up entirely of idiots, misanthropes or mutes.

Anyway, a quick Ctrl + F of his name produced no results.

It was only when he was on stage and uttered the phrase “looking to move from their three bed terrace in South East London” that I recognised him as the man who narrated me through the sick days I took when at school.

I think I’m right in saying there were back-to-back episodes of Escape to the Country broadcast every weekday morning.

Though maybe I am misremembering; it was very much the sort of show that could be looped ad infinitum on UK TV Vanilla or some such halcyon archive channel.

I remember watching Nick guide house hunters round various cottages, barn conversions and ‘are you sure that’s fully converted’ conversions and being fascinated - and sometimes fevered (though that was largely unrelated to the programme) - by these people and their contrasting and conflicting desires to find a house that balances the recently retired Mike’s wish for a manageable cottage garden and the recently burdened Julie’s demand for a paddock so large that Mike will need to be out of the house 9 till 5 maintaining it.

I enjoy finding out how people move into stand-up comedy and from what profession or background they moved from.

As an estate agent who was dabbling in comedy, the BBC deemed Nick the perfect man to look after couples whose budget of £110,000 is more than enough to secure them a nice three bed cottage, in a small village with idyllic views on a non-stop flight path.

However, once you have made the move to stand-up comedian whether professional, semi-pro or amateur, you will forever be haunted by one request.

Tell us a joke.

Whether at a job interview, or a party, or wherever and whenever you’ve stupidly happened to mention you’re a comedian (or that you attempt stand-up comedy), you will be thrown this request.

The absence of an audience or any preparation time does not come into it. You’re a comedian! Come on, tell us a joke. As my friend Manraj rightly says, this does not happen with any other profession. I mean, you would not go up to a gynaecologist at a party and ask him to tell you a joke.

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday, June 11 with TV regular (Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You) and Frank Skinner’s Absolute Radio co-presenter, Alun Cochrane, plus Tom Wrigglesworth, Tommy Rowson and Scott Bennett as compère.

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails