Comedy Of Terror

Entry by: Deedee

5th February 2016
Five months after Mary and I split up, I still wasn’t over it. I was the bloke who would sit at the bar by himself, right up to last orders – staring into the bottom of his sixth pint – until the landlord had to drop a few heavy hints about locking up. I was the bloke who didn’t hit the gym, but hit the Golden Arches, trying to fill his empty soul with supersized fries and Big Macs, followed by a McFlurry chaser. In those first three months, I put on two stone. And the worse I looked, the worse I felt.

I’d drag myself to work, then I’d drag myself home. Some nights I couldn’t sleep at all; other nights, I went right through the alarm, and would call in sick. Eventually, on the advice of my parents – who I still listen to sometimes, even though I’m edging towards 40 – I went to my GP. He nodded sympathetically then got out his notepad. Here we go, I thought, bring in the Big Pharma big guns; what was it going to be? Prozac; Triptafen; Cipralex; Doxepin? The drug options tripped through my mind, sounding more like characters from a sci-fi movie than anything that ought to be ingested by the human body. So when the GP slid his notepad over to me, I was surprised to see a name written on it. Crackers Comedy Club, it said.

I looked up at the GP and he nodded happily. “This,” he said, “is what someone like you needs. I could give you a drug – but it won’t cure the root cause. You’re sad. You are a sad, sad person Mr. Franks, and what a sad, sad person needs is to be made not-sad. Go to this place and all your worries will be over.

“Really?” I asked. “Is that going to work?”

“Trust me, Mr. Franks. I have sent many, many people to this place and they have never come back requesting prescription drugs. Problem solved, see?”

So saying, he turned his attention back to his computer screen, and I took that to mean that my 10 minutes of allocated NHS time had come to a close. Picking up the piece of paper, I tucked it into my jacket pocket and left.

That was three weeks ago. I dithered and drank and sobbed myself to sleep – then, last night, I decided to take Dr. Chaudry’s advice and check out what Crackers had to offer. So, here I am, sat in the front row waiting for my ‘cure’. As it goes, I don’t hold out much hope – the venue is no Jongleurs or Comedy Club. It sits down a dingy North London back alley – and the interior is just as cruddy. Bottle tops litter the floor, clearly left over from a previous gig, and even the odd fag-end is visible, despite the no-smoking signs that are plastered over the walls.

There is a smell partway between mould and urine – and underneath that, something worse. A sweet, sickly smell; like something decaying. I check around my chair to see if any food has been dropped – which is incredibly likely, given that a few of the other patrons are shoving kebabs and burgers into their mouths.

I wonder what is going to be so great about tonight’s line-up. At the door, I bought a programme but I don’t recognise any of the names. The place is half-empty, which confirms my suspicion that we’re not about to witness the birth of the next Peter Kay.

I’m just about to leave when the lights dim and a compère strolls onto the stage. He is tall and gangly, a latter-day John Cleese visually. I shift in my seat and half rise.

“Where are you going?” he says, pinning me with a stare.

I lower myself back down.

“We’ve got our first runner, ladies and gents,” he says. “Don’t worry mate. If you don’t like the jokes, we’ll give you a refund. Alternatively, you could just go fuck yourself.”

There’s a small tittering among the audience who turn to look at me. This bloke’s not funny, but now I feel compelled to stay, so I settle back down and stare at my lap.

“There’s a good chap,” says the compère. “Right, my name’s Saul Albertson folks – and have I got a fantastic line-up for you tonight. You are going to piss yourselves. These guys are guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles. So, sit back, enjoy and give a big hand to our first act – all the way from Liverpool, it’s Danny Angelou!”

There’s a smattering of applause. I turn in my seat to get a good look at the room and do a quick head count. Ten of us. That’s it. Hardly a great atmosphere.

When I turn back to the stage, a squat bloke dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt is standing there. “Hey,” he says, and the mike screeches, reverberating through the small room. “Oops, sorry about that – it’s not me, it’s him,” he says, banging the microphone. “Speaking of mics, I went to see Derren Brown a few months back. Anyway, partway through, he tripped over the microphone and yelled out ‘shit’. The whole audience crapped themselves.”

The audience titters, but I can’t muster a smile. Maybe I don’t want to be happy. Perhaps Dr. Chaudry’s got it wrong and should have just given me the tablets.

“Hey, you!” yells Danny Angelou at me, “why so miserable? Okay, how about this – a horse walks into a bar and the barman says, ‘Hey, why the long face and . . .”

“. . . The horse says, ‘I’m not a horse, I’m Sarah Jessica Parker,’” yells a man sitting a couple of seats away.

Danny’s face darkens. “I’m the one telling the jokes here, mate. So let me tell you one – what about this: “I’m getting fed up with all the interruptions during my self-harm meetings. Every five minutes someone is going off for a slash”

“What the fuck?” says the man and his hand drifts to his wrist. His shirt sleeve has rolled up a little, but even in the semi-darkness, I can see a pattern of raised white marks criss-crossing his skin.

“Oh come on,” yells Danny from the stage, “Don’t beat yourself up about it mate!”

The audience shifts uncomfortably.

“I don’t think . . .” the man on my left begins, but Danny cuts him off.

“What? You don’t think twice about cutting a slice?”

Even though the rest of the audience can’t have seen my seating companion’s wrists, they seem to sense what is going on. A hush has descended upon the room. This is about more than playing with a heckler, it’s turned nasty. Personal. I don’t want to be part of this anymore.

I rise to go, but Danny turns on me. “Leaving are you? Oh, before you do, I saw a book today that you might like – Depression & Anxiety For Dummies – isn’t that nice that they wrote it especially for you?”

The audience gasps. “Fuck you,” yells someone in the front row.

“No, fuck you,” shouts Danny, reaching behind him into the waistband of his jeans. He pulls out a gun and trains it on the last heckler. There’s a nervous giggling. “Oh, now they’re laughing,” screams Danny. “Hey! What do you call a comedian with a gun?” he asks. The room remains silent. “A HEAD-liner,” shouts Danny and, with that, he shoots the front-row heckler in the head.

The room erupts. Automatically, I drop down under my seat. Frantic scrabbling tells me the rest of the audience is doing likewise. A minute or two pass, then the sound of roaring fills the room. I risk poking my head up slightly and wish I hadn’t. Coming down the stairs, into the seating area, is Saul Albertson and he’s carrying a chainsaw. Behind him, Danny pads down the stairs, gun in one hand, mic in the other. “Didn’t we promise you we’d have you rolling in the aisles,” he bellows. “Oh, and there you go Madam – you’ve already pissed yourself.” Another shot is fired off, and someone behind me screams.

I cover my head with my hands, rolling into a tight ball, and try to edge myself under the seat in front. My top half is partway through when I see it. A severed finger. Fighting down nausea, I reel back, shuffling over to the next seat. Keeping my head low to the ground, I flatten myself out until I’m face to face with someone else. For a moment, I think the person from the row in front has managed to get under the whole bank of seats, but then I see the eyes are glazed, fixed open on nothing. My eyes travel down to find the rest of their body, but it isn’t there. I’m sharing the space with a severed head. I scream, hoping I haven’t been heard – but Saul’s chainsaw is still rumbling.

“Why all the fuss?” booms Danny through the mic. “None of you lot want to be alive anyway. You’re sad the lot of you. Dr. C sent you here to get rid of all those bad feelings. Just come out and we can solve it – no more bad days, no more lows. C’mon folks – it’ll be fun. Shits and giggles and all that!”

Suddenly I find myself laughing. For real. Deep belly laughs. I’ve been set up by my GP! He is a modern-day Shipman – but rather than doing the deed himself, he’s sending us to these psychos. What must they be paying him? Certainly more than he’d get for filling out a Anafranil script. There never was a line-up; there weren’t any comics – just two blokes with a blood-lust and a captive audience.

I have just about pulled myself together when I sense a presence behind me. I hear a click and feel cold metal touch the back of my head. “Knock, knock,” says Danny.

“Who’s there?” I whisper – because I have to know what the last punch line is going to be.


“Dead who?”

“Dead YOU!”

And they were right all along – they have made me piss myself.