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Archive for February, 2015

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On a downer

At my gig in Walthamstow last night, I was due to honour an agreement made the previous month to down a pint of Guinness on stage. Despite anyone there barely remembering me making this pact, I had to fulfil it nonetheless.

The last time I downed a pint of Guinness, I ended up in hospital with a broken ankle. It wasn’t just the downed pint that hospitalised me; it was joined by a ridiculous amount of alcohol and other circumstances that I won’t go into for legal reasons.

But still, I was slightly apprehensive about something going horribly wrong, even if I am perfectly comfortable with public failure by now.

The downing started off well, but it got more difficult when I got to the final third and encountered foam at the bottom of the glass.

I pushed through the unpleasant foam barrier and achieved my objective, much to the delight of the 20 people in the room who were cheering me on and had mostly come back for the second half to see me attempt my feat.

It also gave me an idea for my Edinburgh show in the film section, where I talk about trilogies. My idea is to down a pint of beer to a (hopefully) cheering crowd. Then I down a pint of Guinness immediately afterwards, which proves that sequels aren’t usually as good as the originals – but they are darker. Then for the third, I try in vain to get something out of the two empty pint glasses, but it doesn’t amount to anything and I should have stopped at two.

I think there is something in this idea, but don’t know if I could literally stomach downing two pints every day in Edinburgh during my show. So I may film it as a sketch.

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Return to the Forbidden Planet

When it comes to 7-12 February, I often think back to what I was doing in the year 2000.

I was 15 years old and had somehow landed the lead role in a school production of Return to the Forbidden Planet, largely because so few boys were willing to do it.

I had about four months of after-school rehearsals for it, and for the first three months I could barely speak. If you are unaware of the production, it is essentially Shakespeare’s The Tempest with bits of his other plays spliced in and a load of 1950s rock n roll songs in it.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to sing but I was really struggling with the script. If I wasn’t swallowing words, then I was talking at such a low volume that you could barely hear me on the other side of a classroom. I wanted to drop-out, but I hung on in there because I knew that I wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to talk to a certain girl.

Then a couple of weeks before the opening night, when the teachers must have been worrying frantically about how awful their Captain Tempest was going to be, something just clicked into place and everything started working for me. I think it must have been my ridiculous outfit that helped, consisting of an Elvis jumpsuit, a Biggles flying jacket and hat, a scarf that stuck out at an angle and a very large false moustache. It transformed me from an insecure teenager into an intergalactic clown.

I played the role for comedic effect and getting big laughs from such a large audience was definitely a deciding factor in making me want to pursue comedy.

It was certainly the highlight of my time at school. For a brief period, I was hot property and people wanted to talk to me. Two weeks later, I was back to reality and returned to being ignored. Fame is fickle.

It is quite weird thinking that 15 years have passed and I am now double the age I was then, but it remains a fond memory. That young fool has a lot of terrible things ahead of him in the next decade and a half, but I think he’s going to be alright.

Oh, and nothing ever happened with that girl. I last saw her a few months ago sitting across the aisle from me on a train back home. Her head turned towards me and I was getting ready to act surprised and say hello, but then she got up and moved carriages. I just hope my 15-year-old self doesn’t find this out.