So this weekend I enrolled on a two day stand-up comedy course that culminated in a live performance on Sunday night. I also arranged to eat offal and do karaoke on Saturday night. Suffice it to say it was a meltdown inducing, terrifying weekend.
But look, here I am writing about it – which means that I must have survived…
First the Saturday night offal and karaoke.
My lovely friend, Claire, treated me to a dinner at to St John in Farringdon. It specialises in something called snout to tail food and is the kind of restaurant that I would never in a million years go to. I’m a real wimp when it comes to food. I don’t eat much meat and even feel funny eating the dark bits of chicken. I like my food to be as sanitised and removed from its source as possible. No eyes, innards or things with funny textures.
So Claire did the ordering for us.
Vegetarians please look away but this is what we had: bone marrow (which were basically bones on a plate which looked like something the Flinstones would eat), liver of some sort, haggis and ox’s heart. Yup, heart.
I tried it all. I didn’t like the liver – it tasted of metal and felt mushy but the haggis was lovely, just like mince really and the heart was quite nice too. A kind of chewy, dense steak. The surprise of the night was the the bone marrow. It was gorgeous! You scoop it out from the inside of the bones, with a little weird fork thing, and spread it on toast. It was like a rich, flavoursome butter.
And that’s it – no big deal really. I can’t say I’ll be in rush to eat any of it again soon but I enjoyed the evening very much and I’m chuffed to know that at least I’ve tried these things instead of being the kind of person who says ‘Oh no, I wouldn’t…’
Then with this bizarre mixture in my tummy we headed off to karaoke.
I have never done karaoke before.
It’s not that I have a terrible voice, that’s the problem. I have the kind of voice that can sometimes sound quite nice if I get the right song, the right shower, the right car. Then I get very excited about my talent… I’ll sing loudly and earnestly, like one of those people who auditions for X-Factor just because they hit one and a half notes quite well.
But then about 60 per cent of the time I sound pretty duff.
The trick with karaoke, as with most things in life, is not to take it seriously and to not care if it doesn’t sound good – which I find hard. I’ve realised this month that I take myself much too seriously and hate being bad at stuff, looking silly etc. Not a great trait.
After a couple of failed attempts at doing karaoke in the burbs, (it seems that Berkshire and Surrey have banned any more public renditions of ‘I will survive’), I found a pub in the East End of London that did it on a Friday and Saturday night. It’s called the Birdcage.
I was worried that it was going to be one of those hipster, ironic hair places but when we walked in there was an old, toothless guy on stage singing Sweet Caroline. Perfect. The hipsters were out-numbered by proper locals. I felt like I’d walked into the Queen Vic.
I relaxed. And by relaxed, I mean I got drunk. I had planned to sing sober, to really test myself, but after a day of stand up training and offal eating I didn’t have it in me. I bought a glass of the ‘house red’ and it was so nice I ordered three more.
By the time my name was called I was the perfect amount of drunk. I was still upright and able to read but I couldn’t have cared less about anything.
I got up on stage, grabbed the mike and belted out my version of Human League’s ‘Don’t you want me, baby?’ Both the male and the female part.
I flung my hands in the air and danced and had a ball. I was like a cross between Madonna, Rihanna and Adele in a midnight blue jumpsuit. (I borrowed my mum’s old one from the 80s. I hardly ever have the guts to wear it but sod it, I felt the fear and wore it anyway.)
I sounded like crap, of course. I could hear my monotone voice coming out of the speakers but I couldn’t care less. Neither did the beardy boys and too-cool-for-school girls who were dancing away in front of me, clapping and whooping. I was basically a rock star.
And then before I knew it it was over. I wanted to stay up on stage. I could have done round two and three and four – but the slots were all taken.
I went back to the bar and joined in from the sidelines as the toothless guy did My Way. When a bloke who introduced himself as ‘Fireman Cliff’ belted out ‘What is love?’ (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me…) the whole pub joined up with the ‘Woe-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohs’.
It was the best night I’ve had in forever.
My friend Regina and I have decided we’re going back next week to sing a duet. We’re thinking Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickinson’s ‘I knew him so well…’, The Bangles’ ‘Manic Monday’ or Snow Patrol’s ‘If I lay here…’
Or maybe we’ll get there early and try to do all three. We’ll kick toothless guy off stage.
So there you go, it turns out I’m karaoke queen. Who’d have thunk it?
It’s amazing what happens when you stop taking yourself seriously. Or when the thought of doing stand-up the next day makes everything else seem utterly insignificant.
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