Tom Taylor’s weekly column - Perils of performing

Political Satirist, Andy Zaltzman, in his solo show, "Armchair Revolutionary", at the Sitting Room Comedy Club, Harrogate, UK. Photo credit: Jane Hobson.
Political Satirist, Andy Zaltzman, in his solo show, "Armchair Revolutionary", at the Sitting Room Comedy Club, Harrogate, UK. Photo credit: Jane Hobson.

The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Whenever I produce or tech my own events I am always drawn to wearing all black. This is the uniform of that curious breed: the technical staff.

Obviously it makes a great deal of sense to wear all black if you are working in a black box theatre space.

However, I run all my events in function rooms where dressing as a six foot two slug really does stand out.

I would be better served in a delicate, pastel floral shirt and neutral chinos with a bevelled belt that could pass for a dado rail.

That said, this would restrict bending over as you would only serve to create some kaleidoscopic optical illusion where the wall appears to be falling in on itself.

Dress code, however, is the least of our worries. We work with technology. We do occasionally make mistakes.

In June 2012, Sitting Room hosted Andy Zaltzman’s tour show, Armchair Revolutionary.

It was a long show with frequent, intricate sound cues as Andy gets interrupted by the “ground-breaking Satiricax 3000 Radio” which automatically blares out any breaking news which Andy can then satirise on the spot.

The structure of the show was dictated by the conceit that, in the green room before the show, Andy had suffered at the hands of an unsteady archer resulting in the lodging of an arrow in his head.

Resultantly, he only had two hours (the length of the show including interval, convenient eh?) before he died on stage at the end of the second half, the audience leaving to Chopin’s Funeral March.

At the one hour 55 mark I had nailed every sound cue. I had seen the abridged show in Edinburgh so had some idea of how it went.

I had even started to relax and enjoy the show instead of furiously following the script word by word, syllable by syllable.

It was, therefore, much to my surprise that Andy launched into a massive ad lib just before the end of the performance.

Having seen the prepared material on previous occasions, I sat back in my chair and enjoyed Andy’s improvisations.

It is always fascinating to see how, when and why professional comedians go off book.

Especially as Andy was, by his own admission, a particularly shaky improviser and someone who very much felt the need to stick to a script.

His ad lib went on for some time and, I have to admit, Andy seemed to be struggling.

His improv didn’t really seem to be going anywhere and there really was a marked difference between this patter and his earlier, much tighter and much funnier material.

Eventually, and notably exasperated, Andy turned to me and said: “Tom, can you just play the bloody sound cue so I can finally die?”

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns next Wednesday, April 9twith Sitting Room favourite and award winning comedian, songwriter and playwright Boothby Graffoe plua support from Mickey Sharma, Peter Brush and Phil Ellis.

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails