Letters To A Young Comedian

Monday 13 June 2005, The Stage

Recently I received a letter from my imaginary fan called Derek, who lives in some style in the Midlands. It read:

“Dear Arthur, I see that you are soon to appear in an episode of QI, the comedy panel game for the thinking man and woman. Could you please keep a diary of your day at the TV studio so that I might better understand the mundane details of the showbiz life?

Yours, Derek, The Farmhouse, Imaginary Road, In Some Style, Warwicks.”

Well thank you Derek, I will rescue this piece once I have arrived at the studios on the day of the recording.

Well here I am waiting in the foyer of London’s Television Centre. No doubt a keen-eyed, underfed researcher will arrive shortly. On the big plasma screen Richard Herring is being funny in a quiz show. Well I expect he is being funny, since he is, but I cannot tell because the sound is down.

I am here in dressing room 11. I note that although there are also dressing rooms 12 and 14, there is no number 13. Dressing room 11 is small, neat and windowless like Kylie Minogue, although unlike Kylie it has a shower. Outside my door are some ludicrously young people with clipboards. They are with a different new programme being recorded today.

“It’s a bit like Trisha,” says one.

“Does that mean there’s some very wound up people?,” I ask and she shushes me and waves to another dressing room, from which I hear a sudden shout.

I have had a visit from someone from wardrobe who looked askance at the T-shirt I have brought in to wear and returned with a rather classy blue shirt that I intend to make off with at the end of the day.

I have now returned from having a cup of tea with Andy Hamilton, one of my fellow contestants, News Quiz hero, begetter of Drop the Dead Donkey, and devastating beauty. He has asked to look at what I write about him.

I have been given a piece of paper with a series of strange questions. For example: “How high is it possible to suck?”, “What is in the Queen’s handbag?”

I am back from a rehearsal, where I and my fellow panellists talked inconsequentially so that the director could consider some camera angles. I ate a rather delicious supper in the green room and am now back in room 11, which is strewn with paper cups and the contents of my pockets.

Now the audience are filing in, the warm-up man is getting miked up, off to make up and then…

Oh, now it’s the next morning and it’s all over. And forgotten. Time for a cappuccino.

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