I’ve been a fan of Paul Merton since I started watching Have I Got News For You a couple of years ago. His style of improvised comedy suits the program perfectly. The producers of the show give him free reign to venture off on surreal tangents. When I heard that he was going to be at The Lowry I booked a ticket immediately.
Just to make the journey less interesting I checked the directions page on The Lowry web-site. I certainly didn’t want to be driving around trying to summon any sense I may have of direction as I did going to see Rich Hall.
I arrived about an hour before show time and had a wander around the Outlet Mall and the Quays. Practically all the shops were closed. I was looking in the window of one closed shop, an autograph/collectors kind of store. The item that caught my eye was a case containing one of the guitars that Nine Inch Nails have been auctioning for Katrina charities on eBay. The instruments in question are all beyond repair having been deemed casualties of the live show and are all signed by the band. They all have wining bids of over $1,000 so I don’t know how much this display item would cost. There was no price on it. It was mounted in a glass case with a couple of CD covers, a tour itinerary and a little brass plaque showing the concert that the guitar was from. It was certainly a surprise to see one in Salford.
7:30pm, or thereabouts, Paul Merton walked on stage and introduced his chums for the evening - Jim Sweeney, Richard Vranch, Lee Simpson, Suki Webster and special guest chum, Steve Steen. The show, being improvised, is different every night. Someone on stage asks a section of the audience for an Olympic sport, a kitchen item and a film style and the chums have to improvise a scene. They do have various ‘games’ that they play. At one point Paul Merton was led out of the theatre, so that he could hear what was being said. The audience were asked for an occupation and various other things. We came up with ‘The man who grouts the tiles on the space shuttle Tracy with porridge using a spoon’, Paul then had to guess what this was based on the improvised routines. I think you really had to be there.
The other interesting routine was we had to name an Olympic sport and an animal. The javelin and a goat was selected from the various suggestions. Three of the chums then played the part of a professor who was a leading authority on teaching goats to throw javelins. They all had to act the same and when Paul asked them questions the first one would say a word then the second the next and so on. So even the three playing the part didn’t know where the routine was going to go or what to say next.
It’s okay for me to say the odd funny line here or there but to be funny on cue must be a little draining. I guess the more practice that you have, as an improvisational comedian, the easier it is. They have nothing but my admiration.
On Sundays and Wednesdays in London I meet up with my mates, have a laugh and get paid for it. It is the best job in the world.