in Blog post

Comedy, crotch water, and the hubris destroyed by taxi drivers

I was fortunate enough to perform a gig at The Stand Comedy Club two weeks ago. It was their weekly amateur night – ‘Red Raw’ – and tickets had all sold out, so I knew the crowd would be good (and, hopefully, merciful).

So, I’m sitting among the audience with a glass of water. The nerves bubble away but I’ve got everything rehearsed, so I feel like there’s not too much to worry about – as long as I don’t do anything monumentally stupid to screw it up.

AND THEN A BIG GOB OF WATER STEAMS DOWN MY GLASS AND LANDS RIGHT ON MY CROTCH.

Oh. My. Fuck.

I’m about to go onstage in front of 200 people to try and pretend I’m funny…

And I look like I’ve just peed myself.

Before I can do anything to fix it, it’s time. I slip behind the curtain and into the dressing room. My heart starts drumming like a Russian Olympian’s after they’ve OD’d on all of the steroids. Contrary to popular belief, the dressing room is in fact NOT full of topless groupies throwing themselves at people. It’s comedians we’re talking about – the room is full of nervous twitching, scribbling, incomprehensible muttering, awkward glances, and at least one PTSD trauma flashback.

It’s at this time I decide to partake in the first of my six traditional pre-gig shits.

47 minutes later, I step back inside the dressing room and glance down. Yep! The crotch water has dried out! Happy day!

EXCEPT THAT IT’S NOW BEEN REPLACED BY BACKSPLASH FROM THE SINK.

Oh. My. Fuck.

I’m about to go onstage in front of 200 people to try and pretend I’m funny…

And I look like I’ve just peed myself.

Twice.

There’s someone I’ve performed with before in the room, a familiar face among the tense, anxious mumbling – which, I’ve just discovered, is happening exclusively in my head.

“Hello Steven!”

“Hello Dave!” I say, even though her name’s Tricia. Her eyes flick to the other side of the room. “Do you see who’s performing with us tonight?”

I turn to see where she’s looking, and-

Oh.

…It’s Frankie Boyle.

Frankie Boyle – famous Glaswegian comedian and star of Mock the Week – is sitting not six feet away from me!

He nods to me and says hello. I think I nod back, but I can’t be sure because I have given up all bodily control and it’s like I’ve just floated out my head and I’m staring down at myself.

Thankfully, this means I can see that my jeans have dried.

Less reassuring is the fact that I have just looked at the running order and – yep – I AM ON RIGHT BEFORE FRANKIE BOYLE IN FRONT OF A CROWD OF 200 PEOPLE JESUS STEVEN WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF IN WHAT LIFETIME DID YOU THINK THAT ANY OF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA OMFG JUST RUN AND HIDE UNDER THE COVERS AND HAVE A COMFORTING TOFFEE CRISP OMFGGFGFGGFFFGFFGFFGAAAAAARRR

It’s around this time I decide to take the second of my six traditional pre-gig shits.

And the third, fourth, fifth, six and – because it’s a special occasion – seventh.

I hear the compere call my name. Adrenaline mingles with my nerves. In fact, the adrenaline actively flirts with the nerves, but the nerves don’t have a lot of time on their hands for such nonsense – this is a post-Tinder world after all, so they just look the adrenaline up and down, tell it to get its coat, take it out the back, and pump it to a mutually satisfying conclusion before coming back in to put their feet up and settle into my stomach with a smug grin on their face, because nerves are wee pricks like that, a bit that mate of yours who just invites himself over and you offer him a biscuit and hand him a Digestive and he barges past you to go to the kitchen and grabs one of the Fox’s Crunch Creams you’ve been saving for your wedding day and he doesn’t even eat it, he just smears it over his face and makes you watch and he cackles knowing you’ll need to put up with out of date, soggy Digestives for the rest of the week GOD TREVOR I HATE YOU SO MUCH.

This is the sort of thing that goes through your head during the fortnight’s walk onto a stage as a sea of expectant eyes gaze upon you.

I pick up the microphone, wee Nervey McNervington sitting there with a post-coital glow whispering “they hate you already” in my ear IN GREAT BIG CAPITAL LETTERS – and, for some reason, a French accent.

And I start talking.

And, somehow, the crowd starts laughing.

Time dissolves. Half of my 5 minutes has evaporated in the time it’s taken to write this sentence.

It’s… It’s going better than I could have hoped for. People laugh when I want them to! People say “aw” when I want them to! People are disgusted when I want them to be! Confidence flows through me like… I don’t know, I’ve never done drugs, so, eh, tea. Confidence flows through me like tea. Or water onto an unsuspecting crotch. Anyway, I’m loving every moment of it until…

Oh. My. Fuck.

I’m currently onstage in front of 200 people pretending I’m funny…

Frankie Boyle is waiting in the wings…

And the cable has just disconnected from my microphone.

OH DEAR LORD THE WIRE HAS JUST COME OUT THE MICROPHONE AND ONE THOUSAND PAIRS OF EYES ARE LOOKING STRAIGHT AT ME.

Le coq.

But then the strangest thing happens – the strangest, most beautiful of things.

The crowd applauds. They laugh. I fumble with the wire, stick it back in, regain the volume and crack a joke about it…

And they laugh some more!

Now, I don’t like to say things overly positive of myself because (a) I’m terrified I’ll sound arrogant (b) I’m Glaswegian and we simply Do Not Do That, and (c) the universe might implode.

But – at the risk of ending existence and sending us all into the fiery depths Hades – I think I did Quite Well Actually, Hope That’s Okay, Cheers Thanks Ta.

I’m on a bit of a high for the rest of the night. Even in the taxi home, I don’t just act like I’m on my phone when the driver attempts to speak to me. “I know your face,” he says, in a voice that makes me think he’s going to follow it up with “Any chance I can cut it off and wear it whilst frolicking amidst a frenetic blood orgy in tribute to my deceased mother, whose remains I keep propped up in her old favourite chair, as she gazes at me and whispers lullabies into my head every night as I waltz around the living room wearing the dress she died in?”

Turns out he just recognised me from a pub, but whatever.

Anyway, he asks me what I was up to – so I give him the short version of this story by removing the embarrassing stuff, i.e. 90% of it.

Doesn’t bat an eye lid. At the mere mention of Frankie Boyle, he cuts me off and tells me about how he used to chauffeur Henrik Larsson, Paul Gascoigne and just about every other football player who’s stepped foot in Glasgow, including the custom team I made up in FIFA 99 that had a blue and orange kit and were called “Glasgow Irn-Brunited”.

So that shut me up.

Moral of the story is: Don’t talk to taxi drivers.

(And big thanks The Stand and all the other acts.)

Leave a Reply