I was traveling on a busy commuter train heading north out of London. I was with a few friends and we were all sharing a six set of seats, chatting vaguely about this and that.
At one stop, a stranger came and sat with us.
However, I recognised the stranger as another stand up comedian, one whom I had worked with briefly months ago. Let's call him Joe. However, Joe gave no signs of recognising me and I had no desire to jog his memory. He was no particular friend of mine, had a circuit reputation of being a bit of a knob and thus I was happy to let the coincidence slide.
However, the God of Comedy had other plans.
read moreDuring the course of chatting with my friends, one of them, Dan, happened to mention an old joke that we're particularly fond of. The joke goes;
Q) Why did the baker have brown hands?
A) Because he kneaded a poo.
Classic schoolyard stuff. We laughed at the joke and Dan said "Classic gag." At which point, comedian Joe's ears pricked up.
"What's this?" he asked "What's the gag?"
Dan looked surprised at this interruption, but duly repeated the joke to this "stranger".
Comedian Joe thought for a second, looking very serious, and then pronounced:
"No, it's not a very good joke. It's quite childish and immature. And I'll tell you why I can say that. Because I, -"
(pause for effect)
" - am a stand up comedian."
Dan turned and looked at me with raised eyebrows. The moment hung for a second, then I replied:
"Well, I'm a stand up comedian as well. And I think it's a great joke."
Comedian Joe looked shocked.
"Are you? Are you really? What's your name?"
"Jamie Mathieson." I said "I think we've worked together before. Downstairs at the King's Head. You're (insert real name here) aren't you?"
"Yeah, yeah." replied Comedian Joe, suddenly not quite so cocky. The conversation shifted to issues of where we were working that weekend.
I was flying to Scotland for some gigs, which was a rarity but helped to increase my comedian kudos. He was heading to a gig that night on that very train. Dan asked for the name of the pub, but Comedian Joe couldn't remember off the top of his head and was forced to dig out his diary to check. It was one of those "one page to a month" desk diaries.
And here's the really heart-breaking part. The only day with anything written on it, the only gig for the whole month, was that very day.
As he left the train, a few stops later, I was left pondering how many times he had interrupted complete strangers with his pronouncements about the calibre of their pub jokes, or the fact that he was a stand up comedian. And I thought about how statistically unlikely our meeting had been.
And I also thought that if there's one thing the God of Comedy really hates, it's a smart-arse.