Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Act With The Flip Flops

The Act With The Flip Flops

"Shush" comes the call from the stage.

Charming Canadian, Surfer Girl and I are sitting on a battered sofa a mere metre or so away from the stage. For it turns out that this particular room above a pub, with its mismatched furniture and over-sized lights and quirky little bar, is even more to my taste than the pub section downstairs. It has already gone on my list of places I like in London.

Because we are a polite audience we respond immediately to the request for quiet.

"There are two teams - " Breakfast Club Boy begins.

It is not the first time we have seen Breakfast Club Boy on stage. This time at least he is fully clothed. As he details the 'rules' of the evening I realise he also has a 'Compere' voice which is, well, very Camerican. Which is unsurprising all considered, but still.

Also, Compere Breakfast Club Boy is mean.

Which is probably equally unsurprising.

And so the improv games begin. Me being me I like the games where either the level of difficulty is cranked up to increasingly preposterous levels (Starting with 'A' Have a conversation where where your line ends with the next letter of the alphabet. And then with sentences that don't include the letter 'E') or where I am firmly in on the in-joke (Trading Shakespearean insults mutating to insults as if you are in a play by Chekhov).

Just as Scene Stealer gets into full on mode Compere Breakfast Club Boy breaks in -

"Now you can only speak in iambic pentameter. If you're going to talk so much I'm going to make it fucking difficult for you".

Iambic pentameter! How wonderful! But then I am a geek.

Then -

"This one is high concept so you need to pay attention".

I put down the vodka, momentarily, lest I should not be up to the job of high concept after Pimms, vodka and the Builders.

Part one of high concept consists of an oversized imaginary character called Boris. This much I can follow.

Part two involves Team Kapow picking a member to go outside.


I realise Compere Breakfast Club Boy is talking at me. At being the appropriate word. This is not something I'd been prepared for given that audience participation thus far has been confined to shouting out locations and objects.

"Go outside and make sure he doesn't listen. When you hear me blow my whistle bring him back in".

And it would seem I do as I am ordered. Only -

As I stand up I realise that I have only one flip flop on. Because I take my shoes off in public but not always in any kind of sensible manner. Also, these particular flip flops are somewhat difficult to insert my feet into. Because, yes, I am also a little remedial when it comes to bodily coordination. I attempt to slide my foot into the offending flip flop. It skids away from me. I am to be shouted at for not obeying so instead flick the remaining flip flop off and run across the room in bare feet. Some times classy just isn't the word.

In the corridor outside - as I try not to think about the fact that I am bare foot in a pub in Brixton - I see the performer I am supposed to be marshaling. He is looking in the opposite direction. What exactly is the etiquette for situations where an authoritative Compere has ordered you both out of the room? Should I make small talk? But then what if he is in some sort of improv-zone and I destroy it by talking about the heat or Andy Murray or talkative builders?

I settle instead for trying not to step on any piece of floor which looks like something might have been spilt on it. Which is to say - all of the floor.

Just as I have decided to accept that I will undoubtedly contract some sort of foot infection from the floor I hear the whistle.

I open the door and step through and realise simultaneously that I probably should have let the boy who is going up on stage go through first. Oh, well.

I settle back into my seat to watch the game, though not having heard the answers shouted out by the audience whilst I was outside I feel the joke is somewhat lost on me. Though I have a degree of smugness in as much as I guess one of the answers long before the boy on stage does.

Then it is time for Team Bam to send a member outside. He is just leaving the room when -

"You! Why are you still sitting here?"

The audience laughs.

"Go on - go follow him!"

Without a thought for the fact that I am publicly being bossed around by Breakfast Club Boy I stand to attention and scurry out of the room, still in my bare feet because I have not had the foresight to put my shoes back on.

This time I at least get the door thing right when Compere Breakfast Club Boy blows the whistle, remembering to hold it open for the person going up on stage. What with that being my role and what not. However, I do forget how to get back to my seat and - saving myself from having to climb over several people - have to double back and obscure the view of several people.

This time I remain as confused as the boy I was outside with as to the answers so there is both no joke and no smugness. The games continue though, with Compere Breakfast Club Boy artificially manipulating the scores so we have a tie-breaker for the final game. This game involving a plot that has to be played in the style of the genre that our Compere shouts out ("Film Noir!", "Opera!", "The plot part of a Porn Movie") wins my favour quite considerably, not least when "Musical" results in a dead body coming back to life to sing "I'm a dead body" complete with jazz hands.

And then it is over and we have to cheer to decide who is to win. I cheer both teams because I do not know who I want to win as that is too difficult a decision to be made when you have finished your vodka and have black feet.

Compere Breakfast Club Boy catches my eye. "You. Who won?"

It is being left to me to decide? When I haven't made my mind up?

I go with pure instinct and pick the team which Scene Stealer isn't on.

Team Kapow punch the air and cheer, the audience claps and, though I have black feet and have been bossed around, I feel full of joy and power. And, maybe, just a little bit of vodka.