Room for a Laugh: Funny side of the accidents of life

Comedian and Harrogate Advertiser columnist Tom Taylor at the Edinburgh Fringe at the final of  Foster's So You Think You're Funny? (Picture by Steve Ullathorne)
Comedian and Harrogate Advertiser columnist Tom Taylor at the Edinburgh Fringe at the final of Foster's So You Think You're Funny? (Picture by Steve Ullathorne)

The world of columnist Tom Taylor, organiser of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in Nando’s New Comedian Of The Year at Edinburgh Fringe

I remember the White House website once proudly stated that George W. Bush graduated from Yale University in the ‘top 85 per cent of his class’. Just 15 per cent away from the bottom. But in the top 85 per cent eh folks? Capital!

Gerald Ford, the former American President, was said to be so intellectually challenged that he couldn’t walk and chew at the same time.

In a modern rehashing of Ford G’s predicament, I am one of a number of chumps who can’t for the life of me walk and text.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as walkers go I’m positively solid, dependable, good as a chap’s word.

Should a fellow, unaware of my work, announce: “I say, I’m looking for a gent to do a spot of walking. Two legs, that sort of thing.” He will undoubtedly and reliably be informed that Taylor T is his man.

Introduce a mobile phone, however, and I am to a pavement as dear old Bambi is to ice.

Bumping into walls. Falling down stairs. Tripping over clutter. Stepping into traffic. They all take a place in my repertoire. It is to my continual annoyance (and injury) that I have not yet evolved to carry out these two individual cinches simultaneously.

In 2006, some fellow sufferers in possession of some important, civilly servant ear, launched a pilot scheme of padding lamp posts to stem the tide of, what was described as, ‘unprotected text’.

I’ve not heard of it since, presumably all that remains is an index card in the Rolodex of prematurely retired health and safety devices taking its place alongside the marvellous lifeguard that was invented for trams.

This was an ingenious basket that attached to the front of a trolley car to catch pedestrians paralysed by the sight of a tram bearing down on them.

Tragically, the lifeguard worked only if the pedestrians were dead centre and, indecently, they often failed to comply, making them more dead than centre.

As a result, the basket tended to take up only parts of people and proved far less effective than simply shouting, ‘Oi, you there, excuse me, there’s a tram coming. Maybe? No. Yes. To the left. Good. Well done. Triffic! I am a touch squeamish so that’s all worked out for the best.’

Sometimes survival just comes down to luck. In 2003 members of the Invincible Eagles circus were performing a trapeze act without a safety net. Without a safety net? Is that an organ I can hear? An organ thrashing out those heavy chords of impending doom?

A Chilean member of the team, called Mauricio Alberto Yovanovich, missed his partner’s outstretched arms whilst pottering about at some considerable height and plunged to the floor.

As it happens, a rather rotund female in her fifties, Georgina del Carmen Riffo, was sitting in the front row. Mauricio landed on her and both toddled away with barely a scratch between them and a rather excellent dinner-party story.

Of course, one should be wary of being amused by someone else’s misfortune. I was having a drink with someone I hadn’t seen for a long time. He ordered a pint and drank it down in one great gulp.

‘Good gravy,’ I said, ‘that was quick.’

He nodded and said, ‘Well, I drink like that since the accident.’

This silenced me. ‘Sorry, what accident?’ I managed.

‘Someone knocked over my beer,’ he replied and ordered another.

l Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday, June 10 with a special guest headliner who cannot be named due to touring commitments but who has taken part in the iconic Secret Policeman’s Ball as well as several series of Live at the Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. Support comes from Dave Johns and more.

Tickets and more information are available at

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails.