Yesterday, my two weeks of jury service ended – two days into Week Three – with the defendant leaving the box spitting these words to the judge (which I paraphrase, but not much):
“You’re saying I’m mental. I’m not mental. You can fuck off! You and your jury can fuck off. Fuck off!”
With this, he fairly calmly left his glass-fronted box and there were a few claps from the public seats which seemed to come either from his mother or the lady sitting next to her whom we presumed was his aunt. They were ejected.
I think next time I am called for jury service, I may arrive at court screaming: “He’s guilty! He’s goin’ dahn! He’s goin’ dahn! The voices! Can’t we hear them? We’re all going to die! What’s the point?” then falling to the floor screaming and weeping.
All of which has nothing to do with me sitting for ten minutes last night off Charing Cross Road in London, on a doorstep with Miss Behave. Except we ended up talking about mayhem – the word I have decided to relentlessly use from now on to describe the new wave of rising British comedy performers.
Miss Behave and I were actually getting together to talk about the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Show which I am producing and she is presenting on 23rd August at the Edinburgh Fringe – two hours, one hopes, of utter mayhem.
“So let’s do it like last year,” I said. “You basically suggest all the bizarre acts and I’ll figure out the minutes. Mat Ricardo’s going to do some spaghetti juggling and we have the Russian Egg Roulette Championships – Richard Herring’s one of the people who’ve said they’ll do that.”
This year, Miss Behave is also running the new Bob’s Bookshop venue with Bob Slayer, which has an eclectic mix of shows including my own five-day chat show and Miss Behave’s Game Show, the billing for which says:
Tired of everything meaning something? Just want to have fun? Then look no further: we have shits and giggles galore. Sixty minutes of games, chaos, great acts, bad acts, dancing and fun.
“What’s that all about?” I asked.
“It involves people and their phones,” she replied. “I kinda don’t want to say too much about it in a weird way. I did three versions of it in the Wonderground recently, just to see how it would go and I’ve never seen an audience that excited… Seven standing ovations one night.”
“And you’re doing a midnight show with Bob aren’t you?” I asked.
“I’ve booked some really good people into Bob’s Bookshop. There’s Adrienne Truscott doing her Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else.”
“That’s the one where she’s only clothed from the waist up and the ankles down?” I asked.
“Yes. I’ve also got a guy called Stompy. He’s never done Edinburgh and I’ve persuaded him up to do some bits and bobs. He’s like Martin Soan on crack.”
“That sounds like Martin Soan himself,” I said. “Will he be naked?”
“When necessary,” replied Miss Behave. “He has an act called The Half-Naked Chef which may or may not be what he’s doing up there; I don’t know.”
“How would you describe yourself?” I asked. What are you? A cabaret act?”
“I would like to be an impresario,” said Miss Behave. “I don’t like genre definitions. My favourite thing in the world is comedy… Comedy can make you cry. It can make you laugh; you can do it physically, verbally…That’s my favourite thing to do and to watch. The variations are infinite.”
“So sticking a flower through your tongue is just a sideline?” I asked.
“It is,” confirmed Miss Behave. “My dream would be to concoct really silly ideas and give brilliant people the ability to realise those really silly ideas.”
“A twisted 21st century Ziegfeld,” I suggested.
“Exactly, darling,” said Miss Behave. “But less girls, more gags.”
“And more follies,” I suggested.
“Indeed,” said Miss Behave. “Many more follies.”
“What acts shall we have on The Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Show?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “The acts I’m booking for Miss Behave’s Game Show are going to vary from a pigeon to a tramp to a dog to a flyerer to maybe an act here and there.”
“Does the pigeon have a manager?” I asked.
“Probably moreso than a lot of the acts,” suggested Miss Behave.
“And this would be a real pigeon?” I asked.
“It’s a game show and there will be a commercial break and a guest. That guest can be anything. What is refreshing in Edinburgh? Someone who is not plugging their show.”
“So a pigeon?” I asked.
“A pigeon,” confirmed Miss Behave. “I’m also figuring a flyerer would be quite funny – someone who hands out flyers in the street.”
“They’re often wannabe performers aren’t they?” I asked.
‘Not necessarily,” argued Miss Behave. “Someone from the street team. They come on for three minutes and we see what happens. They’ll probably get heckled. I started life as a flyerer… Aged 13, I used to flyer over there in Leicester Square for four or five different music clubs. From the age of 13 to 18 I flyered and I was the best fucking flyerer. I had a whole little business going with it. It was brilliant.”
“And the Fringe this year,” I prompted, “will be…?”
“I think it will be a fun Edinburgh, provided it’s not a torrential Edinburgh. There’s a lot of good people going and I think the sands have shifted. One of the reasons I’m doing Edinburgh is to prove to myself that it can be somewhere creative that you can develop stuff: you can run stuff in. If that’s so, then suddenly the festival re-opens in a massive way.
“At Adelaide this year, I made money and developed the Game Show and I’m hoping the same thing can happen in Edinburgh this year. If that can happen, then – without sounding like an arty wanker – the artists can take back the Fringe festival and there will be an independence and an autonomy.”