This happened to me last night (the introduction, not the treatment) at one of David Allison’s This Is Your Laugh events in which a fairly prominent person is accused of some unlikely ‘crime’ and ‘tried’ before a comedy audience.
Last night, Time Out editor-at-large Alexi Duggins was prosecuted by comedian Barry Ferns and defended by Bob Slayer, with Frank Cassidy as judge plus extraordinary improvised songs from Phil Kay and magic/mind-reading from Paul Martin. That’s more entertainment than you get in most English courts and provided probably about the same level of justice.
Afterwards, I had an encounter with Bob Slayer in an alleyway, a type of meeting to which I suspect he is no stranger. It is worth remembering that, as well as being a comedian, promoter and, at the Edinburgh Fringe, a venue-runner, Bob used to be a tour manager for and a manager of rock bands.
“I’m going to Europe!” he told me.
“As if they don’t have enough problems,” I said. “When?”
“April and May,” he told me. “I’m getting back on the road with bands. When I toured with bands, I moved my way up from DIY bands to… well, the last tour I did was with Snoop Dogg.
“But my favourite bands were Electric Eel Shock, who I started with and managed and then this obscure Swedish band called Quit Your Day Job who I think I first met in Hamburg and I just fell in love with them.
“And I was quitting my day job at the time – I had – and they are beautiful. They do two-minute pop songs of beauty. They’ve supported big bands like The Hives and Turbonegro and Danko Jones who are big in Europe. Ace bands.”
“So,” I asked, “you were a frustrated musical performer.”
“I was,” said Bob, “but I’ve gone beyond that and fortunately I’ve now gone on stage and I can get naked in front of 2,500 people at the preview for the Leicester Comedy Festival.”
“Or for one person if they pay a lot,” I suggested.
“Or for one person if they pay a lot,” confirmed Bob. “I’m not fussy. I don’t demand a huge audience but, if it’s there, I’ll do it. The point is I’m going back to Quit Your Day Job, I’m going back to the touring, but I’m going back as a support act to Quit Your Day Job. We’re playing small, shitty venues, touring in a really shitty car and the four of us will go around Europe and I’ll get to be me and I don’t have to be tour manager – weve got someone else to do that. He’s a doctor who is taking two weeks off work to be our tour manager. I’m not sure if he will need his doctoring skills, but I’m glad that they’re there just in case they are needed.”
“I am Bob Slayer!” said Bob loudly. “Why would Slayer sue me? I am Bob Slayer! They’re more likely to sue over my video. Look, I love Slayer, but their fans come up to me and go Oh! You’re Bob Slayer! You must love Slayer! Death to false Metal! but I love false Metal. I don’t think they should be mutually exclusive.
“Slayer fans love to put rules on Metal. So I’m taking a band I love and re-interpreting the gods of thrash Metal in a disco style. So far, I’ve had three angry Slayer fans get in touch with me.
“But also as a result of that video going online, people have contacted me who I’d lost lost contact with. There’s an old friend of mine called Doug who has mastered lots of albums and he and his friend Jared were in a band called Living With Eating Disorders. Now we’re planning to record the next song so I think, by the end of 2113, I will have an album.”
“But,” I asked, “are you going to be a musical person at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe.”
“No,” said Bob. “Well, I’m not going to be a musical person with Quit Your Day Job either.”
“You’re not going to be a musical support act for them?”
“No, I’m going to be Bob Slayer, what I always have been. I am Bob Slayer.”
“Are you going to be Bob Slayer doing what you do in the video?” I asked, “Or are you going to be a stand-up com…”
Bob Slayer interrupted: “To be honest, I haven’t really thought it through.”
“Are you going to be an anarchic comedian?” I asked.
“Your first question was Are you going to be a stand-up comedian…”
“…and,” I agreed, “you’ve never been a stand-up comedian as such.”
“Yes,” agreed Bob. “When have I ever been a stand-up comedian? Some of the biggest laughs I’ve ever had were falling out of a wheelie bin and I was not standing up then, unless you call falling on your neck and breaking it stand-up.
“The point is I don’t know what I’m going to do on tour. I’m going to be me and I am Bob Slayer.”
And I am pleased to confirm that he is.