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He Died On Stage

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 2

As a haunt of such well-known comics as Plastered Pete and Sloshy Josh we have a long association with comedy, but surprisingly the quality was not the equal of the glory days of music hall. Time passed and live comedy became a victim of first radio comedy, then TV, then You Tube with clips of guys getting hit in the crotch.

But comedy has never left us, where once crowds of hundreds would pack in to hear obscene songs about clergy men’s daughters it changed in the 80s to an open mic. comedy night. Here the desperate and the drunk would chance their courage in front of a surly audience of the ill-tempered and the un-amused.

Laughs were few and far between and even professional stand-ups were proud to win a few laughs and a meagre round of applause.

Until one night, a group of people from Cuthberts, Cuthberts and Simpkins a local firm of accountants decided to come for a works night party. Amongst them was Terry the office joker, always with a humorous tie with a rude pattern on it, a Hawaiian shirt and a joke he’d misremember from the telly the night before.

As he sat down the compere, a down at the heels fellow called Jeff stood at the mike and called out there was a spot going that night. Well, Jeff’s colleagues good-naturedly elbowed him and encouraged him..…perhaps not all that good-naturedly, maybe they thought that to look a bit of a prat on stage might shut him up a bit?

Terry reluctantly agreed and as the evening rolled on he took a few pints of Dutch Courage until it was his turn and he climbed onto the stage. Strangely the audience seemed more crowded than it had earlier, he turned to face the audience and to his horror realised it was also works do for the local funeral directors. They’d invited their friends from a regional conference of undertakers, 200 pale faces floated with grim expressions above black suits and ties.

Terry suddenly realised he hadn’t heard any laughter for the last hour and he wanted to run, but the path back to his seat had vanished in the sea of severe expressions. He was trapped in the spotlight, unwillingly he grabbed the microphone and told a joke, then another. Then he started on about how women were a bit like dustbins, which he thought was controversial and sexist but the audience were silent, the silence one might feel if one was buried alive and woke suffocating in a claustrophobic wooden coffin.

Alas, his best mate Jeff couldn’t help, he was powerless, trapped by the barmaid who was laughing at a couple of his jokes and falsely giving him the impression she found him attractive, in spite of him being bald, potbellied and whiffing slightly of pound shop deodorant.

Terry began to cry and the poorly earthed microwave started to fizz, he said the fatal words that would be his epitaph “This isn’t comedy it’s a cry for help.” At which point the audience burst into uproarious laughter, if Terry had had one less pint of cooking lager that would have been the end of the evening, as opposed to the end of it all.

He was so surprised that he rather over wet the microphone and the audience stood and cheered at his amazing punch-line which seemed to involve his hair standing on end and catching fire.

To this day someone might tell a joke, sometimes two and but you get to three you can just smell burning hair and it get to four Terry might just decide to help you with the punchline.

Ghost, Spiritual Or Historic Stories For Pubs And Restaurants