Tonight’s The Night

“Get up, stand up.”

Bob Marley, presumably?

Morning everyone. Well here we are. It’s a much brighter Monday morning. I am back in the Surbiton Grind. Sat outside this time. My own dumb fault.

I pulled on my denim jacket this morning to throw over my hoodie and gym kit. Got to the café, reached in to find my wallet and what should be nestling in there…an almost completely full pack of the dreaded Camels. Oh for fucks sake.

Now given that I completed Mr Allen Carr’s “Easy way To Stop Smoking” yesterday at about 4pm, with a great feeling of achievement and gusto, this is very irritating. I mean I should just bin them. Get up no and walk to a “trash can” and buckle and bend and tear and get rid of the whole thing. And if it was only 1 or 2 in there I probably would. But now they sit next to me on the bench outside the café being all gross and “taunty.”

Is today the best day, given I have to stand in a pub for 2.5 hours and do a stand up set later tonight? Am I making my head too crowded with “do stand up, don’t drink, don’t smoke,” all on the same day. Or am I simply using this as an excuse for weakness? Oh ffs I don’t know. Time will tell.

Oh yes, the drinking. I’m knocking that on the head too. Or going to make my best endeavours to do so at least. Again, is today the best day for THAT?

Allen Carr has some interesting advice on this. In fact, it is the ONE part of his book that suggests it’s up to the reader: When quitting smoking, do you AVOID stressful and social and likely smoking environments? To give yourself a fighting chance? Or do you run towards them, thrilled at your new status, enjoying the freedom of being the “new you” in the “old new” world? He says it’s really up to the individual. Great.

Anyway, enough of THAT. Tonight, dear reader, as you will know, is the night. I have my latte and my bacon/tomato toastie, (tommy –toe!) I have the laptop, the phone, the headphones, the print out of the material, and about 8 hours before I have to get up and do it infront of a mixed crowd of strangers.

How am I feeling? This is what you’ll all be burning to know.

Just had a fag. They were staring at me. Now I feel stupid. But fuck it.

Nerves? Some. I feel I have done “well enough” (see previous videos of the course practise) to know I won’t absolutely die on my arse. There are enough good jokes in there with clear and present PUNCHLINES to get me through. I can’t see it going awfully. I am also now secretly glad of the glaring stage lights, so tonight’s show, once I clamber up there and grab the mic, will be identical to the rehearsals I’ve done. Unlike Downstairs At The Kings Head which is lit like a movie set and one can see the staring whites of the eyes of all the punters sat 3 feet in front.

So not worried about the material.

However I have, thanks to the Surbiton Grind Wifi, just downloaded the last practise session video (below) which pisses me off as, despite needing to be a tight 5mins, runs 10mins 5 seconds. Some of this is fluffing lines and pacing and having to check the script. But it isn’t 5 mins worth.

So my number one anxiety right now, as the clock approaches ten to twelve, is that I will over-run dramatically. Which is VERY bad form. Or I will forget my act. Which is equally unprofessional.

The ONLY solution to this is the following:

I need to listen again to the video, watching it carefully, and see if I can lift out 3 or 4 of the weakest jokes. Which I don’t really want to do, obviously. Especially as I have learnt the set like a play, and in my mind each joke follows the next. Can an actor say “TO be or not to be…” and then naturally, without missing a beat, go straight into “wherefore art thou Romeo?” Well we’ll see.

In a perfect world I would have done this already. Gone through, re chopped it, downloaded the audio and now have a tight 4mins 45secs loaded on the phone to listen to over and over. Sadly however life has run away with me so I’m going to have to do that now.

Okay, here we go. Let’s take a listen to the full 10mins 8 secs and see what doesn’t work:

(Oh this WILL be fascinating for you): Line by line, here we go:

Okay let’s get this clear. You’ll remember in the movie The FLY what happened when Jeff Goldblum got in that machine and a fly got trapped in there with him? Well I’m what happens when film critic Mark Kermode got in the machine without realising, crouching behind him is Michael Gove.

“But life uh…found a way…”

Good evening Kingston. Or if you’re an estate agent, welcome to “Lower South Ham Village.”

Where to start. I am a divorced man. Which you would assume, I know.

We had a lot in common though. For example, my wife and I both grew up with terrible inferiority complexes. Hers was great obviously, mine was shit.

Okay. First thing to note. This all takes too long. Long pauses, extra information. I’m adding “anyways” and pacing and twitchy Goldblum pauses. Extra details. It just isn’t tight enough. The above 3 jokes runs 1.30 seconds. Blimey. So we can practise (in the next few hours) just sticking to the key words, Seinfeld style. I think it was Jerry who said you should tell a joke in the least possible words it takes to get the idea. No fluff, no filler. When you watch him live you can see that even the random “adlib” sounding bits are BANG BANG BANG. When he talks about Superman on Hallowe’en, we get “I was physically ready, I was emotionally prepared.” And that’s it. Move on.

Anyhoo, let’s see the next 90 seconds…

Neither of us were academic. We had no interest in classroom lessons. We learn best I think from experience, from nature. Green, maybe healthy. Plants, fruits. Red, dangerous. Fire, blood. Bright blue, not healthy. Mould, rot, Greggs.

We met at a pub quiz. I was trying to be impressive. The quizmaster asked this geography question “what is the name of the huge fault that runs for 600 miles through California.” I shouted “Chronic Obesity?”

She got on with my family. She liked my dad. We weren’t wealthy. Dad didn’t like to work weekends. He preffered, as my mother used to tell me, to spend his Saturdays splashing out on used cars. Or dogging as it’s also known.

Not a big extended family. One uncle. Uncle Alan.  We used to tell people who’d be about to meet hit: Uncle Alan’s like Marmite. Not that you either love him or hate him. Just that he’d sit in the kitchen cupboard and cum in a jar.

She got on well with my niece. Took an interest. My niece is into PAW PATROL that’s her thing. Which for years, I thought was the follow up to BENEFIT STREET

Right. We’re at 3:30 now. Well again, it’s lots of fluff and making the point over and over. The MARMITE JOKE I think can come out. It sits there and is obviously nonsense and never gets a huge crack. So that’s out. Plus it takes me 23 seconds to tell it.

In fact, looking back at the script as written, compared to how I deliver it, it’s no wonder the whole thing runs long. I’m taking, essentially, twice the amount of feedlines to get to the punch. Is it nerves they haven’t got the set up? Maybe. I need to be more trusting perhaps. Note there, a “Maybe” and “perhaps” in that sentence. Oh it’s like Raymond Chandler…


She was with me through the tough times too. When Dad died. Testicular Cancer. Complete surprise. Although the signs were there. Every time we’d go the Tesco self-checkout it’s say:  Came home via Tesco. Till said “unexpected item in bagging area.”

But marriage is tough. You have to show someone you love them. Its not enough to tell them. Truth is we probably spent too much time staring at our phones instead of talking to each other. But we were that generation when phones and games were a novelty. I asked my brother, “How do I get Angry Birds” on my phone. Trying shagging half a dozen and not calling them back.

Right. Well this can come out too. It’s a looooong lead up to the “Angry Birds” joke. A joke I have since lost confidence in since Erich told me 2 things: “The angry birds joke, I fear I may have heard a similar version somewhere before. I can’t put my finger on where or who, but just thought I would mention that. And the couch and girlfriend on your phones, didn’t have a clear gag at the end of it.”

So Erich has forgotten that the gag at the end of the “couch bit” is infact the ANGRY BIRDS joke. Let’s see on the clock how long that bit runs: Fuck. 49 seconds. That’s like 18% of my act. That’s COMING OUT!

So, onwards:

We’re divorced now.  It was the sex that broke us up. I’m shy, she was adventurous. We tried everything to keep it spicy in the bedroom. Tried everything. She ground up my Viagra and rubbed it all over her chest – , that went tits up

Final straw was when my wife shoplifted a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. To use as a manual stimulant. I told a friend of mine. He said, “shoplifted soft porn books? Has she always been sticky fingered? I said yes but it’s the shoplifting I object to.”

Well again. Sigh. It’s just so much padding. Pacing, padding, muttering. Adding extraneous detail. Repetition. We’re now at 6mins 10 secs and I’m nowhere NEAR the close. That 50 shades gag took 41 seconds. This isn’t the BANG BANG BANG it looked like when I was writing it down.

Keep it tight, Richard. Get to the point.

So last bit before the laundry section:

She learned some stuff from that book. She wanted anal action and some kind of elaborate spanking. I didn’t have that sort of equipment. Friday nights I’d find myself literally up shit creek without a paddle.

Now I work in an office. Dull place full of teenagers. Kind of office where they tell you to make sure you leave the microwave ovens in the canteen “as you would wish to find them.” So I always pop in 2 grams of coke and a copy of Razzle.

But that’s where I met my girlfriend. So I’m back to domestic bliss.

So. We’re at 7:35 now. Fuck. Now I like the Razzle joke (possibly because of my cheeky Harry Hill delivery on the punchline) but it jars. It doesn’t take us anywhere and has nothing to do with the theme of family or sex. So it might have to wait for my 10 spot. It runs 38 seconds. Fuckinell.

Now we hit the penultimate bit. The laundry section, which Erich and co seem to feel is the best bit and the most original bit. And certainly, if I watch back the first time I delivered it 6 weeks ago, it did get a huge CRACK of a laugh. Let’s see how long it runs (or rather, let’s see how long I force it to run by padding it out for no reason…)

Does anyone else feel racist when they’re doing the laundry?

Now we TRY not to feel racist! We try and be woke and use other words. But when you’re not concentrating on a Saturday morning. We have to try and Segregate…SEPARATE! Separate it all out without it turning into a Klan rally. What’s more important, the whites? The blacks? There’s a lot of coloureds about. We’ll do the whites first, they’re most important. Blacks? Well they shouldn’t really mix. Plus there’s a lot, they’re gonna need hanging.

So we’re both there trying to avoid eye contact while we discuss putting all the browns together as one batch called “coloureds.” What other words are there? We’ve tried saying “hues” instead of coloureds. But that’s worse. Because what about grey socks. They’re “hueish.” So now we arguing about the Huish problem. And don’t get me started about keeping them warm in the Aryan cupboard. 

Blimey. That bit runs 2 mins 48. Blimey. That’s like HALF the running time. Does this mean if I keep the laundry, I have to lose half of the other stuff? Fuck, it probably does. So we’re gonna needa bigger cull, coz I tell that about as tight as I can.

And the closer? The mum ISA joke? Is it strong enough? I’m going to say NO right now.

Let’s have a listen:

But we get along now as a family. I call my mother every week. Well…Christmas. She was telling me she’d been seeing documents on the news about ISIS. She thinks great idea, very modern, suits people of her age. Not for everyone, perhaps only the middle England middle classes, but ISIS certainly has its merits. I said really? What is it you like about ISIS? She said how else she would be able to save up to £20,000 tax free…

Thank you Lower South Ham Village. You’ve been a treat, I’ve been RICHARD ASPLIN

Hmm. It’s not bad. Does anyone under thirty know what an ISA is? Seems awfully 1980s doesn’t it?

Well let’s be methodical. If I cut out:

ISIS (47secs) / MARMITE (23 secs) / MICROWAVES (40 secs) / ANGRY BIRDS (45 secs) that removes the better part of:  2.5 minutes. So if I do that, and really nail down the “tightness” of the rest of the show, I think we’ll be at about 5-6mins.

Okay. So that’s what I have to do. I suppose the best way of doing this will be to trim down the script, record it into my phone and spend the rest of today playing it over and over and over…

How to record it when I’m sat in a café? Hmmn. Don’t really want to go home to do it as lovely Claire is elbows deep in her R&D Course session and this will be a huge noisy stompy disruption.

A local park? There are plenty. I could go and hide under a tree…

Oooh, let’s see if I have a hard copy in my bag so I don’t have to laptop-it in an arborial setting like Bill Oddie setting up a webcam / a paedo setting up a webcam… Two tics…

Oooh, I DO!!! Okay, well I guess that’s what’s next. Timing wise, if we work backwards…

Get to the club for 6.45? Leave at 6.25pm. Shower and iron shirt, shave and do quiff? That’s another 30mins. So get into shower at 5.55pm. So I have 5hrs 11 minutes. How many times can I listen to 5 minutes of material in 5hrs 11 mins? Sixty two times. That should do it.

But now I’m at the point when…well, if I leave the café now and record the set onto my phone. I will have NOTHING to do for the most of the afternoon. Gym? Hmn, seems an odd thing to do. Somehow completely distracting. Unless I listen to the audio while pounding an hour on the treadmill? I still have tomorrow’s quiz to write. And collate. And print. Fuck. Well that can be tomorrow I guess. One thing at a time.

So y’know, I’m going to sit here a while. Maybe catch up on my Kermode & Mayo podcast over one more latte. Then off to the park. Yes. That’s the plan. Marvellous.

I may chat later, if I go to the club early. But until then. Please break my leg xxx

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