Well, what an interesting show I had in Barton-Upon-Humber last night.
After a ridiculous travel day that included three trains, two tubes, and a car journey, I arrived at the Ropewalk Theatre, which I was informed is in the longest single span pan-tiled structure in Britain. Whatever that means.
Basically it is an old rope factory (is factory even the right word?) where not surprisingly, rope was made. The building itself is a quarter of a mile long, cos the rope had to be straight, and now houses a café, a theatre and an arts space.
A full house had assembled, and as I took to the stage I spotted a man arriving late, so went to the back of the room to chat with him. Ross was originally from Scotland, and after a bit of banter, said to me “Should we do a duet?”
When I asked what we should sing, he suggested “Puttin On The Ritz”, but insisted it had to be the Gene Wilder/Peter Boyle version from the Mel Brooks movie “Young Frankenstein”. Not thinking I would call his bluff, Ross was then dragged to the stage, where I first explained the scene, then re-enacted it, using a cane handed to me by 88-year-old Mrs Marley in the front row.
I sang and danced with cane in hand, “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to why don’t you go where fashion sits”, then tapped the cane twice, as Ross groaned “Puddenonnarizz!!!”
We looked like this:
The crowd were equally amused and bemused.
A quick scan of the rest of the room found a fifteen-year-old called Peter, and a lovely older couple by the names of Arthur and Molly, for whom I had to translate the Bon Jovi section of my act.
See, I’ve been posing a theory that Bon Jovi songs are so uniting, that singing them may help bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together. Arthur said he had no idea who Bon Jovi were, so I retold the entire routine as if singing Nat King Cole songs would unite the Dutch and British during the Boer War.
Arthur and Molly looked like this:
Unfortunately this left fifteen year old Peter in the dark, so I then told him that the Taleban and the Americans could be united by singing some Dizzee Rascal lyrics.
Again, the audience were more bemused than amused.
The second half of the show began with a raffle for a charity that brings Arts projects to children in regional areas. I decided to draw the raffle myself and immediately asked the crowd to decide which was the most valuable prize out of a stuffed reindeer toy, a bottle of Baileys, and a box of chocolates.
Baileys was voted to be first prize, reindeer second, and the chocolates not only came third but were soundly booed. In fact every time I mentioned the chocolates they were booed, so I suggested that the town slogan should be “Barton-Upon-Humber – No chocolates (boo)”.
The first two prizes went to a couple of lads who looked like they were in a male modelling catalogue. They posed appropriately:
Third prize went to a man called Kevin, who was in the audience with his twin brother Keith (or was it the other way around?) I brought them both to the stage and suggested they looked like a couple of comedy bouncers. They posed appropriately:
Returning to the show I headed back towards 88-year-old Mrs Marley, and asked if she was born and raised in Barton, to which she replied, “I’ve never been there in my life”.
I managed to ascertain that this was her first time in town, and asked what she should see. Silence. I asked what Barton-Upon-Humber was known for. More silence. Then a man called Neil piped up.
He (and various audience members) told us that B-U-H:
1) has a Victorian school, designed by a Mr Wilderspin, who was from Barton, and was the person responsible for the invention of classrooms
2) is the birthplace of the Samaritans movement
3) is where the illustrator of Desperate Dan in the Beano comics was from, and that he based the character on a Barton local
As I scrawled all these on my arm to remember them for this blog, I asked for more facts and found that:
4) The Town Band won a national competition last year for best town Band
5) Albert Einstein was from Barton-Upon-Humber.
When I queried this last one, the gentleman said, “well they were all talking shit, why can’t I?”
From what I can work out, facts 1-4 are true, and I promised to use this blog to ask for more interesting facts about Barton-Upon-Humber. Please submit your interesting B-U-H fact as a comment, and we can all try to work out whether or not it is actually true.
I’ll start it off with two more facts I learned after the show:
1) The man that invented the idea of Longitude was from Barton-Upon-Humber
2) The ropes used in the first ever ascent of Mount Everest were made in the building in which I performed.
The show finished, and I was whisked off for a brilliant Indian meal by the venue staff. When we arrived, there was a table of people there that were also in the audience. I told them “I was thinking about this meal for the last half hour of my act” to which hey replied “So were we”
Thanks to all at the Ropewalk for being so lovely – Cheryl, Janine and Lee – and especially to Liz who picked me up and dropped me off in Scunthorpe.
Thank you too to Mrs Marley, who looked so angelic shrouded in the light of the spots, that I just had to take her photo as well:
I am now on a train to Reading for tonight’s show, then Coventry tomorrow, then to Belgium for a TV show called Comedy Casino on Monday. Maybe then I’ll get some rest.