The Frog and Bucket holds an open mic comedy night. Anyone can enter. After the crowd is warmed up, three people in the audience are given a large card to raise once they think their section of the audience has had enough of the person on stage. This might be because the person is rude (sexist, racist etc) or not funny. If the person makes it to 5min they pass onto a clap-off at the end to see who is the best on the night. As I was touring England from Australia, with a little stand up comedy experience, I entered and here’s what happened to my set. The three people with cards were Jasmine (also from Australia), Adam and Ben…
What I planned to say…. (depending on audience reactions)
I’m from Australia. I’m here because my father is from Bolton. How do you feel about Bolton? Don’t care? Yeah, no-one really cares.
A guy there told me Bolton is the birth place of fish and chips. He said, Liverpool discovered fish, Manchester invented chips, and Bolton, in between the two, is where fish and chips began.
I thought, Manchester invented chips? Good on you Manchester! That’s 70% of my diet. The other 30% is crisps. That’s right, I know the difference between chips and crisps.
Manchester invented chips. Liverpool discovered fish. I’m pretty sure someone would have discovered fish. How long had fish been hiding before Liverpool discovered them. I’m not sure I believe that.
All they did was look out to the ocean.
Chips that took genius.
In Bolton there’s a museum. It’s good. It shows the story of Bolton starting the industrial revolution. Yep, Richard Arkwright in Bolton built a mechanical loom powered by water. It wove cotton into fabric, increasing the demand for cotton, increasing cotton plantations, increasing labour needs, leading to ships going to Africa to get slaves. Bolton started slavery.
No wonder they are claiming the fish and chips.
My sister lives in Nottingham. Nice place Nottingham. My favourite place there is a shop called Meat Dress. At night it is steak restaurant. By day it is a dress shop.
It’s for the discerning Nottingham local to get a dress scented in grilled steak. Yum.
Terrific double use of the space. I’m going to open a shop called Salmon Pants, where you can buy fish aroma pants. Underpants that is, not pants. I speak your language. Pants here are trousers. That would be Gammon Trousers.
I do like Fish and Chips. I like mushy peas too. The first time I saw them I thought they looked like puss drawn from the cyst of a dead zombie dog. Zombie dog puss. Come to think of it, they taste like that too. Not sure about those peas.
I didn’t expect to get this far. Let’s try this idea…
In Australia I was in a town called Castlemaine. There is no castle but there is a prison. They have two Fish and Chip shops there.
The first one I walked into was hot and sticky, like being hit in the face by an armpit. The woman behind the counter had a face blister red and scrunched up from years of oil burns from the deep fryer.
She said, whatdoyawant.
That translates to, what do you want? I wanted to say “a loving relationship and a steady job so I can raise a happy family.” but that wasn’t on the board, so I said “just looking”
I went out and nextdoor was the other chip shop.
Inside it had air conditioning, and the fryer bubbled like a hot mud pit in New Zealand – blip – blop – blip – Behind the counter was a kid, eight years old, reading a thick book and I thought, I am not eating here!
I don’t want fish and chips from someone reading. They’re hoping for a better life. Their mind is not on the batter. Nobody ever said, hey Tolstoy, stop with that book and make us some fish and chips, because that’s not what he’s good at.
The kid said, “Hey, what would you like?”
And I said,”A loving relationship and a steady job so I can raise a happy family.”
He said, “That’s not on the board.”
I got fish and chips from the woman next door. They were good.
(If time still allowed, use the tinder story because I can read it from a note pad.)
What I said… (because of audience reactions) (Note: I was the last person on stage. Only three of nine had made it to 5min, and I didn’t think the standard was extreamly high – except for the those three. Despite feeling good on arrival, and chatting to some strangers at the gig, an hour before my spot my body started sweating the sweaty fists of fury that it can. I put a jacket on to cover the blotches, but I could still feel them.)
I’m from Australia. Jasmine you can put your card up now, no favouritism (she didn’t put the card up). That means Adam and Ben, I’m talking to you. What do you think of Bolton? (silence) My father is from Bolton.
(someone in crowd gushes)
What? (talk) You know someone named Bolton? My father is not from them, I hope. (good laugh)
I was there and some guy told me Bolton is the birth place of fish and chips. (disgruntled mummers in crowd) No listen, he said, ah, what, Liverpool discovered fish, Manchester invented chips, and Bolton, in between the two, Bolton is where fish and chips, ah, (disagreeing in audience) meet.
Manchester invented chips! Good on you Manchester. (silence) That’s 70% of my diet. (silence) The other 30% is crisps. Jasmine take note of that. I know there’s a difference between between chips and crisps. (silence)
There’s a museum in Bolton. (Ben’s card goes up – I never look to see Adam’s) It’s good. It has, ah, huh, Bolton starting, ah, hmm, Bolton and the industrial revolution. It started there. (chatter amongst crowd) Yep, yep, some guy named Alright built a loom that could weave cotton. It was water powdered (lots of chatter, and a laugh).
What’s funny? It’s not me at this point. I wrote all this yesterday. Trying to, arr.
Cotton woven into fabric, increasing the demand for cotton, increasing cotton plantations, (chatter), ah, hmm, increasing labour needs, increasing labour, increasing plantations, plantations leading to ships. (lots of chatter) Bolton started slavery. (chatter and a little laughter) What?
(silence – I look to my notepad for anything that might get a laugh)
I got on a train to Cockfosters. When I arrived in London. I thought that was funny. Cock.
(At this point I’m hoping for the “get off” music but it doesn’t come. I’m stuck, thinking I need to keep going, to find something funny, but brain is useless. I should have turned on Jasmine and pleaded with her to raise her card. The crowd would have agreed. Instead I decided to stop trying to remember a script…)
I’ll leave you with this. I’m not good at relationships. Tinder. I’ve got a bad, do you know tinder? Let’s see if you can see what I’m doing wrong, does anyone know, here’s a message I wrote on tinder… (I got the notepad out and read the tinder message story, bumbling over words and re-reading sections as I went, right up towards the punchline, but exactly a second before the punchline the “get off” music plays. The MC, Dan Nightingale, hugs me and says that was rough. It was. Nice for the hug though. Jamsine is advised she stuffed up. Crowd members talk about how terrible I was in the streets afterwards.)