The Funny Side of Death
I've always wanted to be a comedian.
To stand in front of an audience and make them laugh, it's like the hardest job in the world. And believe me I've cleaned the portaloos at Glastonbury.
You know when you have an ambition though, no that's the wrong word, a desire, that's it. Albeit one that you know will never come to fruition?, somewhere in the back of your mind there's the hope that it might just work out.
"You're going into the family business" shouted my mother over breakfast. I was fifteen and my father was ten years from retirement.
"I'll show you the ropes son" he promised, and he did, he took me out with him in his little van, we made a lot of house calls that week, and in the weeks after, a relentless, thankless career with no time off. And to see the sorrow on people's faces as you leave, I had to have some release, my father has chess and has tried to teach me on many an occasion.
"It might come in handy one day" he said, don't know what for though.
I like to watch those old slapstick comedies that people wouldn't find funny now. Laurel and Hardy make me chuckle, those silly antics that couldn't be done in this day and age. Now it's all rush rush with no time to stop and appreciate what you've got.
I called into the Comedy Cavern one Wednesday to do a pick up and that's when I saw the sign.
'Open Mike' it said, I had to ask who 'Mike' was and the manager told me to give it a go.
I thought I'd leave it a while, go along and check out the competition, an awful lot of slots kept appearing so maybe it was an omen.
My father always went by his mantra 'Life is hard' and You've got to work until you drop' but why should it be like this?
Surely there are pockets of joy in every persons time on earth, yes there are nasty people out there but if a serial killer is happy with his hobby then who am I to condemn them..
I once knew a banker who embezzled millions, he had a fantastic lifestyle and even gave money to charities, he was a happy bunny until I called.
Anyway I need to work on my jokes, I do find humour in everyday things, if someone trips or falls off a ladder I almost split my sides, but I don't think that'll go down well at the club.
They look like a rough crowd. I've watched them heckle and even throw beer at the poor unfortunate up there, one woman was talking about women's issues and running a home, she went down like a lead balloon, she left in tears but on a good point she finally got a laugh
Oh I'm so nervous. Two nights to go before I make my debut and I've chewed my nails down to the quick. Think! Think!
'What do you call a man with leaves on his head?'
'Russell'. Oh no that's terrible. I need to talk about things that the audience can relate to.
To be honest they look like a bunch of beer swilling sexist morons so I think if I put down women and talk about football then I'll be ok.
Not that I know anything about either, I've had a sheltered life you see. I only know about what I know about and not many people find it funny.
My parents are retired and live in a static caravan by the sea, I visit them twice a month. My father likes to play jokes on me and sometimes locks the door.
Maybe that's where I get my cheery disposition from, certainly it's not my mother who takes pleasure in watching disasters unfold on the news.
When I told them of my plans they didn't laugh, they just looked on, infused with pity and bewilderment.
"Why can't you be more like me?" she asks and I do try, but there's something inside me that want's more.
And love has never come my way, I try to get close to someone and it all falls apart. My parents set me up with a lovely girl once, we went out and had a meal and as we left the restaurant it looked as if she would be up for a second date, but I found out later she said I was too serious, it comes with the territory love.
Isn't it ironic that the only woman in my life is my mother and I don't even like her?.
My father unlocks the door and asks what I want, I think it's his way of lightening the moment and it works, we laugh together as he pours me a scotch.
I hear mutterings from the other room and he shuts the door.
"Your mother isn't happy with the direction you want to go" he states without even a smirk.
I can still hear her when I leave, I promise not to do anything silly, my work is important to all. If I didn't do it then what would happen? we'd be overrun with them that's what. Yes I do see myself as a pest controller, now that's funny, I may use that in my act, oh dear it's tonight, I need to make sure I'm prepared.
I've showered and shaved and sprayed myself with panther or whatever it's called so I won't be offensive to the public.
My cloak is freshly laundered, my scythe is shining and so am I.
Tonight I will be a hit, I'll have them rolling in the aisles or whatever the equivalent is, but most importantly of all, they'll die laughing.