Crocus Valley

Sounds pretty doesn’t it? It’s the toponymy of Croydon.

I’ve ‘been to Croydon’ strangley frequently in the last fortnight, having gigs either right in it or in one village or another that dangles from its obscene skirt. Such were the adventures I’ve had that ‘been to Croydon’ is my new euphamism for having had a joyeously weird time.

One was last night for a gig in a village hall, which felt more like playing the part of a ‘stand up’ in a post-watershed special Vicar of Dibley than being in any sort of comedy club. They were lovely people but they’d never heard of Jim Broadbent. I’m mainly pleased that I didn’t fall off the shallow but two metre high stage. Gigging for a mature, c(C)onservative audience, the majority of whom have never seen comedy before, is precarious enough as is.

The night was eventually made comical, however, in the interval, when an ambassador for the seemingly stuffy crowd came backstage to tell us there hadn’t been “anyway near enough filth.” Right. Good. Right. Lesson learnt, don’t even judge a bible by it’s cover.

Another trip was for ‘my first Jongleurs’, in the centre of Croydon. It got off to a clever start when having parked, walked to the High St and asked a nearby bar doorman “Whereabouts is Jongleurs do you know please? It’s on the High St here somewhere” and he said “Oh yeah, Jongleurs, it’s in Covent Garden”.

Yeah not that one you dick.

Then to the gig, where again my preconceptions were wrong – the audience weren’t violent at all. Andrew Bird was properly excellent, and gave a wee masterclass. I enjoyed myself playing the gig too, there will be gigs where you can use long words, and there will be gigs where you can’t use words longer than ‘dog’- it’s all comedy, and it’s all there to be learnt from and funned at.

A third trip was to another out-frill, slightly further away than Croydon but not much, this time in a room above a pub- with some acts I was friends with. So I was well looking forward to it. It turned out to be one of those twilight zones where it looked like the quaintest village pub I’d ever beheld but then it turned out the front row were proudly fresh out of court for assault, not for the first time and most people there had mainly come out either to send a flurry of lame insults at someone with a microphone or with the express intention of having a shit time. Oh well. Again, I still enjoyed it. Ages before I started stand up I wrote a string of ‘heckle-put-downs’ in the nonsense fear that it would all be about fending off abusive – thankfully it’s not- or it would be properly crap. But yeah, I rarely get to use those bits and bobs of deflection really, so it was interesting getting to air them. I liked it.

Another weird bit of that gig was the closer, a man notorious on the circuit for displaying a loathsome bitter streak of rudeness and intimidating unprofessionalism towards any comedian newer (not hard) and potentially funnier (not hard) than him. I’d not met him before and he was true to form. Yuck. There’s brilliant a reason though, that he’s so poisonous – because actually comedy is a wonderful, creative, supportive and friendly world and so if you behave like that then it slowly but surely chews your career up and spits it out. And thankfully they’re very rare, those angry, cruel husks.

And in a way, that tiny old fraternity of comedians are a bit like Croydon – we it to remember how lovely everywhere else is.

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