I am currently touring the UK with my show Fun, and this week I brought my fun to the Leicester Comedy Festival, Basingstoke, and then Windsor. I have been enjoying the glamour of Moto service stations and Travelodges immensely.
My shows were sold out. Why? How? I was sure they’d made a mistake. Sold out? It makes me feel nervous. These people are the reason I have a career. I don’t want to disappoint them.
On stage I was thinking, “Are they enjoying this? Is it funny enough?” I need a laugh-o-meter, like in a cheesy Seventies game show. It’s an odd relationship.
I tell a roomful of strangers why my hymen is still intact, we all have a good laugh, I walk off stage as if I’ve just read them a story from Jackanory, then I spend all night wondering and worrying if I’ve satisfied these people and if we’ll ever meet again. If we do, will they only be thinking about my hymen? If they are not satisfied, can I make it up to them?
What offends someone in Basingstoke will knock someone out with laughter in Leicester, and as for Wales, the people there love a medley of hymns. The next time I go to Llanclymedeasheagogo I may perform a selection of Arabic hymns, sure to get a great welcome across the valleys.
In Windsor I expected a friendly, maybe rather upmarket audience. But I had a shocking post-show encounter in my dressing room.
There is a psychopath who lives in Windsor. It’s not the Duke of Edinburgh – it’s a six-foot, bearded Muslim man whose attitude to women is pre-medieval, and whose attitude to women in comedy is pre-Barbara Windsor.
He stormed into my dressing room and shouted, “I don’t like your show. I want you to give up comedy.” Imagine storming into WH Smith and saying: “I don’t like the way you folded that newspaper. I want you to give up your job.”
He said, “It is not respectable what you are doing. You’ll answer for this on the Day of Judgement.”
I suggested that maybe Allah likes my jokes. The man went mad.
He said, “I came with white people from work and I feel ashamed. They are already attacking us, and knowing that we are arguing among ourselves. It will only give them more ammunition. You deserve all the hatred you get. You should be putting us in a good light by saying positive things about our people.”
I said, “Was it the joke about your mum being on Jerry Springer?”
The diatribe continued for an hour. It was like being on Question Time, except I had no right to reply. In the end, I was saved not by David Dimbleby, but by the theatre manager, a gay man who barged through the door wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words Debbie Does Dallas.
The Muslim man said: “Is this one of your fans? Gay! The only type of person who would want to come to your show. Think about what I’ve said. What you are doing is wrong.”
I replied, “Would you like my autograph? If not, please leave. I’m very busy and need to prepare for my next show at the Jewish lesbian club down the road. Thanks for your feedback.”
I drove home feeling guilty. Why do I feel guilty? Am I doing wrong? Should I stop? I do feel guilty for not being “loyal to my people”, even though they have mistreated me.
Surely our only loyalty should be to the truth? Am I not doing a disservice to people if I don’t do what I’m good at because I am scared of what other people will think?
So, if that man is reading, I’m sorry you didn’t like my show, but I am not going to change it. I have been thinking about what you said, though, and you are right: I may well have to answer the important questions on the Day of Judgement – but in the meantime I’d rather do it on The Weakest Link.