Stand Up, Please

microphone illustration

“So we’re on this date, right, fancy restaurant, posh wine, candlelight so dim she can’t see my face – we’re onto a winner, is all I’m saying.”

Tumbleweed. This crowd is the worst.

“Then the waiter comes over and brings us a menu. And I open it, and I’m looking through, and it all sounds lovely. Posh shit, but lovely. Tiny things on massive plates, with green stuff smeared on the side like baby poo. You know the sort of stuff.”

Fuck’s sake. Nothing. That warm up act didn’t have a clue what he was doing.

“Then I saw the prices. Thirty-six quid for pretentious fish and chips. Forty-two smackers for a bit a chicken and some boiled potatoes. Eighteen hard-earned fucking pounds for a bread basket. For that kind of money, ladies and gentlemen, I expect an actual basket made of bread, hand woven by blind, baking nuns from the south of France.”

What’s wrong with them? This is gold!

“You’re all a bit quiet tonight, aren’t you? Are you all too rich to understand the financial problems of a struggling comedian?”

“You’re fucking shit, mate!”

Oh, now they’re laughing. Bastards. Don’t rise to it.

“So, I’m browsing this menu and I think… I’ll just have the soup. Waiter told us it was carrot and coriander, which is fine by me, and it’s only nineteen shitting pounds. One of the cheapest things on the menu. When the waiter comes, I tell him ‘I’ll have the soup, please!’ and he asks if I want anything else, and I say ‘no, thank you, not much of an appetite.’ Not for spending money like that, anyway!”

“Get on with it!”

Don’t rise to it. This is good material. Keep your head.

“And they both look at me like I have a second head. And then she orders. Guess what she has? Sirloin steak, cooked in truffle oil, topped with fois gras and a poached fucking quail’s egg. Yeah. I’d spied that little doozy on the menu. Guess how much? Sixty bloody quid. For a steak!”

“Shut up, you cheap bastard!”

If it were Russel Howard doing this bit everyone would be going mad for it.

“So we get through our meal, and we have a bit of chitchat, y’know? What do you do for a living, what’s your hobbies, got any brothers and sisters, all that crap. And I’m there sipping on my soup – not even any bread to dip it in, because eighteen pounds for a bread basket is daylight bloody robbery. Meanwhile, she’s tucking into her steak and banging on about how delicious it is. But she doesn’t bother to offer me a taste, does she?”

“We don’t care!”

Maybe this stuff isn’t funny. Shit.

“Umm. So. Yeah. Then the bill comes, and obviously I pull my wallet out, and then she offers to pay. And I say no, don’t be daft, I’m a gentleman, and all that. Ladies shouldn’t pay on the first date.”

“Sexist!”

Ugh. What am I doing? I’m dying here.

“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to pay for a steak I didn’t even get a morsel of after working my way through a tiny portion of carrot and fucking coriander soup as slowly as I possibly could. But you’ve got to offer, haven’t you?”

Half of them aren’t even listening now. They’re talking among themselves.

“But she’s not daft, this lass, and she says it how it is. She goes: ‘You only had soup, I had steak. It’s not fair you paying for me, is it?’ And I think yes, she gets it, she’s the one. She’s perfect for me. And then I crack a joke and say ‘Well if you’re paying, I’ll just get the waiter over and order lobster thermidor for dessert.’ She doesn’t laugh, ladies and gentlemen.”

Oh God, they’re not laughing either.

“So… it’s safe to say I didn’t make the first impression. But…”

Don’t do it, don’t do it, abort, abort, abort.

“Well I liked this girl. She’s pretty. She’s obviously fairly well off if she can afford to eat pretentious steak at overpriced gourmet restaurants. And she didn’t seem repulsed by me.”

“Get off the fucking stage!”

“So I ask her for a second date, and she agrees. And I think, I’ve really got to make a good impression on the next one. I need to make her swoon. So, I invite her to one of my gigs. What’s sexier than a good sense of humour, right?”

“You’re far from sexy, then, mate!”

Oh, they’re laughing at that. Course they are.

“So I ask her to come along to my next show. This one, to be exact.”

Groans are going up among them, now. And shouts of:

“Poor girl!”

“You’re never getting laid, pal!”

I probably shouldn’t go on. Should I? I’m too far gone now, aren’t I?

Fuck it.

“Can we get a spotlight down on the front row, please? Just towards the left. That’s it. There she is! My beautiful date. You enjoying yourself?”

Mistake. She’s terrified. She’s shaking like a shitting dog. At least the audience are quiet. Least they’re not heckling her. This is a disaster. Where do I go from here? Please stand up, if you stand up and act like a good sport I might just be able to redeem myself and make this stupid bit work.

“You, er, you been having a nice time?”

She’s getting up. Maybe it’s gone better than I thought. She’s going to say something:

“You’re fucking shit, mate!”

And the crowd does wild. Guess I won’t be getting a third date.

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