I have been gazing into my crystal ball…. but I’m sure you don’t want to know about that so, instead, here are my predictions for the world and for comedy in the coming year –
At first, beneath leaden skies, most of the country grinds along the bottom hoping for something – anything – to lift the cold winter gloom and to resist the endless cuts, but by February the economy and the weather are back clinched together in their dismal dance. Heavy rain resumes, flooding half of all comedy venues which means comics who can’t swim are effectively barred from performing – the word ‘gig’ reverts to its original meaning of ‘six-oared rowing boat’, shows are cancelled and as recession also snarls louder, venues begin to close.
Old notables like the Comedy Store in London, the Stand in Edinburgh and the Frog and Bucket in Manchester stay open but there are lots of comics looking for fewer spots. Some acts, deprived of a stage but fighting bankruptcy, take to busking in the increasingly deserted shopping centres. But here they are obliged to compete with a wave of new Chinese mime acts who have jetted into Britain.
As spring arrives TV panel shows featuring well-fed young men in expensive shirts begin to lose their allure and the big laughs on TV now derive from the humiliation of dim people on reality shows. The first death in one of these programmes proves so popular and uplifting that ritual murders become the staple of Saturday early evening television.
In June more theatres and clubs are forced out of business by triple dip and by the riots that have begun to break out on the streets. But then, – at last! – the sun arrives, the rain abates and there is, for the first time in many months, a feeling of optimism in the air. An immense collective sigh of relief. O hooray!
That mood doesn’t last because the sun becomes too hot and George Osbourne flees to Switzerland with the 27 trillion pounds in cash he has prised from under the carpets of the Treasury. By July the only comedians still in work are Michael Macintyre, Jack Whitehall, Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Carr; all 4 have moved into Cameron Palace World, the high security luxury district in the City of London reserved for the absurdly rich. Outside its walls the under-humans, as they are known, scuff around in the filthy, sticky mud for any scraps of food thrown from the parapets by the elite. (or, as they are known, THEEL).
Temperatures have now risen so high that people are becoming dangerously listless; THEEL comics cannot get a booking because laughter has become a pointless waste of energy. All the remaining live venues have now closed in the suffocating heat. Even the absurdly rich in their palace, sheltered by a huge nuclear bomb-proof transparent bubble, are wilting.
In August numbers are up for the Edinburgh Fringe and Lucy Beaumont wins the Comedy award.
Come October though the heat is so great that the roads are melting and the channel evaporates as Britain is joined with the continent for the first time in a quarter of a million years. Then almost overnight the heat is replaced by snow that has slipped down from the arctic and covers Europe in 40 feet of ice. It seems the whole temple of human achievement is about to be buried beneath the debris of a world and a solar system in ruins… (to be continued*)
And a happy New Year to all my readers.
*or maybe not.
Arthur Smith is EXPOSED! – Tour 2013