This story

THE COMEDIANS

by Robert Williams

"Hey Mick," said Des as Mick popped round one morning. "I'm feeling homesick!"

"But this is your home!" said Mick.

"Yes, and I'm sick of it! This house is so small I can only use condensed milk in the kitchen!" said Des.

"I'm thinking of taking my house to the doctors," said Mick. "It's got window panes! Anyway, have you seen the newspaper today?"

"Yes, the price is going up tomorrow, so I bought all the copies I could find today!"

"Have you seen this bit then?," said Mick. "The dustmen are going on strike. They want shorter hours!"

"I agree, I always thought sixty minutes was too long for an hour!" said Des. "Have you heard that joke about dustmen?"

"Yes, it's a load of rubbish," said Mick.

Just then there was a knock-knock at the door.

"Who's there?" said Des.

"Wayne!" called Wayne from outside.

"Wayne who?" said Des.

"Waynedrops keep falling on my head!" sung Mick.

Des opened the door and let Wayne in.

"Hey Mick, when is a door not a door?" said Des.

"When it's ajar," said Mick.

Wayne burst out laughing. Des and Mick looked at him strangely.

"Are you all right, Wayne?" said Des.

"Err, yes, fine," said Wayne, stopping laughing. "'Ere Des, I've got this problem - moles are diggin' up my garden!"

"Well hide their spade!" exclaimed Des. Wayne burst out laughing again.

"What are you laughing at?" said Mick.

"Oh...nothin'," said Wayne. "'Ere, look at the time, we've gotta go to Mrs G's cafe for the meeting!"

"Okay, I'll just pop up to the toilet first," said Des.

"What did the policeman say when he found three toilets in the road?" said Mick.

"A loo, a loo, a loo!" said Des.

Hoots of laughter came from Wayne.

After Des had visited the smallest room, they walked along the road to the cafe.

"Oh look, it's started to rain cats and dogs!" said Des as they made their journey.

"Careful you don't step in that poodle!" said Mick. Wayne laughed.

"What happens when it rains beer?" asked Des.

"You get an ale storm," said Mick. Wayne laughed again.

"Why does he keep laughing at everything we say?" said Des. Mick shrugged his shoulders.

Before long they arrived at the cafe.

"Hello Des, Mick and Wayne," said Mrs G. "What would you like to eat today?"

"None of that mashed potato I had yesterday," said Des. "I found some coins in it! I said I wanted some change in our meals, but that wasn't quite what I meant!"

Wayne started laughing again.

"I hope you haven't got any rude food today," said Mick.

"What do you mean?" said Mrs Greasy.

"Food with sauce!" exclaimed Mick.

"Cor, Mrs G's food is so bad, I bet even her dustbin gets indigestion!" said Des.

Wayne laughed yet again.

"Good morning all," said Clive, walking into the cafe.

"Did you hear that big noise first thing this morning?" said Mick.

"It was only the crack of dawn!" said Des.

"If you say so," said Clive, walking in.

"How was your morning, Clive?" asked Mrs G.

"Oh, I've just been to the barbers," said Clive.

"Did you know my hairdresser's stopped doing permanent waving?" said Mrs Greasy.

"Yes, it was making her arms tired!" laughed Des. Wayne burst out laughing again.

"Why do bees have sticky hair?" asked Mick.

"Because they use honey combs!" said Des.

"Has anyone actually got anything sensible to say today?!" said Clive.

"Did you hear about the dating agency for chickens that's run into financial difficulty?" asked Des. "It had difficulty making hens meet!"

"Evidently not," said Clive.

"Did you know Wales is sinking into the sea?" said Mick.

"Must be all the leeks," said Des.

"What is wrong with this lot today?!" exclaimed Clive. "I mean, they're not very bright at the best of times, but this is ridiculous!"

"Hey Clive, I don't come here to be insulted!" said Des.

"Where do you usually go then?!" said Mick.

"They seem to making jokes out of everything," said Mrs Greasy, "and Wayne is laughing at them all!"

"Did you hear that Mick heard such a good joke he was going to take it home with him?" said Des.

"But I decided it'd be taking a joke too far!" said Mick.

By now Wayne was in fits of laughter.

"They're just too funny!!" he laughed.

"What's he talking about?" said Mick. "Hey, did you hear Mick Jagger's group is going metric?"

"Yes, they're going call themselves the Rolling Kilograms!!" said Des.

"Will you two stop telling jokes all the time!" said Clive. "Look at Wayne!"

Wayne was rolling round the floor with tears rolling down his cheeks.

"I don't know what you mean," said Des.

"I never tell jokes," said Mick. "What do sad fir trees do?"

"Pine a lot," said Des.

"It wouldn't be so bad if they were funny," said Mrs Greasy.

Clive and Mrs G sighed. Just then Mike the Manic Mechanic walked in.

"Morning all!" he said, mopping his brow. "Hey Mrs Greasy, I could really do with a cuppa, I've just had a busy morning fixing a tasty 1986 Sierra Cosworth with only 89,000 on the clock, and fully reconditioned sunroof..."

"What's a fjord?" asked Des.

"A make of Norwegian car," said Mick. "What's a metronome?"

"A dwarf in a small car," said Des. "What would happen if everyone in this country drove a pink car?"

"It'd be a pink car-nation!" said Mick.

Wayne started laughing yet again, and Mike joined in.

"May I just butt in?" said Mrs Greasy. "Des and Mick, what would you like to eat?"

"Have you got any food today?" asked Des. "If not, I'll just settle for what you usually serve us."

"I don't come here to be insulted!" said Mrs G.

"Where do you usually...oh, we've already done that one," said Mick.

"I'll 'ave fish 'n' chips, Mrs G!" said Wayne, who had managed to stop laughing.

"Fish and chips for Wayne," said Mrs G, writing it down.

"Actually...I've changed me mind," said Wayne.

"Does the new one work any better?!" said Des.

"These two are being a right couple of comedians today!" laughed Mike.

"They're getting on our nerves!" said Clive.

"No, they're the funniest comedy double-act since John Major and Norm Lamont!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"I agree!!" said Mike. "Hey Wayne, I've got an idea! I went along to your new stand-up comedy show the other night!"

"So you're the one," said Clive.

"It's been really disappointin'!" exclaimed Wayne. "Hardly anyone's come along to the Wayne Coach Comedy Club!"

"I agree," said Des. "After all, I've heard you've been compared to the great comedians of our time."

"Oh shucks," said Wayne, coming over all modest.

"They say they're a lot funnier than you!" said Des.

"I just can't understand it!" said Wayne. "After all, I even put up a poster 'ere in the caff to advertise my stand-up comedy shows!!"

"Maybe it's because no one has been in here to see your poster?" suggested Clive.

"Maybe it's because you sit down?" suggested Mick.

"Or maybe it's just because you're not funny?" suggested Mrs Greasy.

"Hmmm..." said Wayne, thinking.

"So why don't you employ Des and Mick as a comedy double-act! You'll really rake in the dough if you take them on as comedians!" said Mike.

"Spacious!!" exclaimed Wayne. "Mike, you're the man!!"

"Des," said Mick to Des. "What are they all talking about? Since when have we been comedians?"

"I don't know," said Des. "I don't understand. I never tell jokes. Do you want to hear the one about the blunt pencil?"

"No, there's no point in it," said Mick.

"Listen you two, your problem is you keep telling jokes all the time!!" said Clive.

"Hmmm, I suppose you have been more funny than usual, Mick," said Des.

"You must have 'joke-itis' or something!" said Clive. "It wouldn't surprise me, Des, you always manage to get into these strange routines - talking in rhyme, seeing into the future, and now telling jokes all the time!"

"Why don't you phone up Dr Whoson to see what he can do?" said Mrs Greasy.

"That's a good idea," said Des. "We'll go back to my house and do that now." Des and Mick got up from the table.

"Don't go yet!" said Wayne. "Are you up for starrin' at me comedy club?"

"Yes, I suppose so," said Des. "Right, we're off."

"I'd wondered what the smell was," said Mick.

"I need to go shopping later," said Des as they walked back to his house. "I was thinking of going to the opticians, but I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself!"

"Where would you find a stupid shoplifter?" asked Mick.

"Squashed under Sainsbury's," said Des.

When they got back, Des rang Bones and Whoson's number.

"What did the big telephone say to the little telephone?" said Mick.

"You're too young to be engaged! How can you tell how old a telephone is?"

"Count its rings," said Mick.

When Des had dialled the number, he found Bones's answering machine was on.

"Hello, this is Sherlock Bones's luxury penthouse in upmarket Romford Park, and this is that ace detective, Sherlock Bones! Dreadfully sorry old chaps, but myself and my deputy assistant helper Dr Whoson are on holiday in sunny Skegness for three weeks!! Yes, it's true!! We've finally saved up enough for a holiday for once!! Not that we haven't been earning of course!! My crime-solving agency has been very busy recently - we had a case to solve in 1993, and one before that in 1988!! The thing is Whoson keeps wasting all our money on stupid bright orange ties and green suits! I told him he ought to spend it on sun cream to rub into his great big bald head for our holiday...what's that, Whoson?...we'll be late for the train...okay listeners, we'll see you soon, don't do anything I wouldn't, and you couldn't do us a favour and video 'Blankety Blank' while we're away...yes Whoson, I'm coming!...please leave your message after the tone! Ta-ta!!"

By the time the tone sounded, Des has been hanging on so long he had fallen asleep.

"Wake up Des!!" exclaimed Mick. "What did they say?"

"What didn't they say?!" exclaimed Des. "They had their answerphone on and it was so boring! Anyway, they're on holiday for three weeks."

"I met my wife on holiday," said Mick. "She said, what are you doing here?!"

"It was so hot on our holiday last year," said Des, "we had to take turns sitting in each other's shadow!"

"I suppose we'll have to go to our GP, Dr Proctor, then," said Mick.

Des and Mick popped along to the doctors. On their way they saw a bus go past.

"Why did the bus stop?" asked Mick.

"Because it saw the zebra crossing," said Des.

They arrived at Dr Proctor's, but still couldn't stop telling gags.

"Now what can I do for you?" asked Dr Proctor.

"Doctor, doctor, I think I'm shrinking!" said Mick.

Dr Proctor was about to say something but Des butted in.

"Well you'll just have to be a little patient!"

"Doctor, doctor, I feel like a doorbell!" said Mick.

"Take these pills and I'll give you a ring!"

"Doctor, doctor, how can I stop stealing?" said Mick.

"Are you taking anything for it?" said Des.

"Have you two just come here to waste my time?" said Dr Proctor, getting agitated.

"Yes! No!" said Des. "No, no. The problem is we keep telling jokes all the time!"

"Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains," said Mick.

"Pull yourself together!" exclaimed Dr Proctor. "Oh..."

"Is there anything you can do?" asked Des.

"Well here are some pink pills," said Dr Proctor. "Take one three times a day. Next!"

"Will they really work?" said Des.

"Well no one I've given them to has ever come back," said Dr Proctor. "Next!"

Des and Mick took the bottle and pills, and left the surgery.

"Doctor Proctor, I keep thinking I'm a dustbin," said the next patient as he went in.

"Don't talk rubbish...doh!" said Dr Proctor.

Des and Mick duly took a pill three times a day for a few days, but they had no effect. The gags continued to flow thick and fast.

Then came their first appearance at the Wayne Coach Comedy Club, which actually turned out to be the church hall.

"What do you get if you cross a church with a fish?" said Mick.

"Holy mackerel!" said Des.

"This is great!" exclaimed Wayne to Des and Mick as he met them backstage. "Ten times as many people as usual 'ave turned up!"

"But there's only five people in the audience," said Mick.

"He was very short," said Wayne.

When it looked like no one else was going to appear, Wayne jumped out onto stage wearing a spangly jacket.

"Hi there! Glad you could all turn up to tonight's comedy extravaganza!" said Wayne.

"When's the disco start?" said one of the audience.

"Oh...that's tomorrow night!" said Wayne.

The person sighed, got up from his chair, and left.

"Was I seeing right? Someone actually wanted to come to one of Dickie's discos?!" said Des.

"Now, 'ave I got a treat for you!" said Wayne. "Tonight, I'm not goin' to be tellin' any jokes!"

The audience of four clapped and cheered at this.

"Instead, we 'ave for you, South London's finest double act - Des and Mick!!"

Des and Mick, having also donned spangly jackets, walked onto the stage grinning. They had not rehearsed for this, and had no material planned. It was to be all improvised.

"Okay," said Des. "I say, I say, I say!! Something funny happened to me on the way to the church hall, sorry, comedy club!!"

"What's that?" said Mick.

"Um...well...nothing really...saw a bus...um..."

"I say, I say, I say!!" said Mick. "What do you get if you cross a mouse with an elephant?"

"Err..um...um...an elephant-mouse? Um...a...mouselephant? Errr..." said Des. The audience started sighing. "Um...what's a polygon?"

"It's a many-sided shape," said Mick. "Why is your hand like a DIY shop?"

"Well...they're not, they're completely different..." said Des.

Wayne stood by the side, completely confused.

"Psst, Des!" whispered Mick, worriedly. "We've stopped being funny! I think those pills must have kicked in at last!"

"Well we can't let the audience down!" whispered Des. "We've got to try to be funny! Ahem!!" He cleared his throat and turned back to the audience. "Okay Mick, what did one lift say to the other?"

"Des, don't be stupid, lifts can't talk...oh...um...what kind of fish performs operations?"

"Mick, don't be stupid, fish can't perform operations! What do animals read in zoos?"

"Animals can't read, Des..."

By now, the audience were booing and hissing at Des and Mick. So much so, that when Wayne returned to the stage they actually started cheering.

"Thanks a lot, Des and Mick, what a couple of comedy geniuses!! They'll be back again sometime for some more rib-ticklin' gags, but now I think it's time for me to entertain you lot!"

The audience groaned.

"Okay then!" said Wayne. "What do you get if you cross a giraffe with a kangaroo?.."

Des and Mick walked out of the church hall, not really bothered about their disastrous performance. They had got rid of their joke-itis at last, and that was all that mattered.

"Now that we've stopped being really funny all the time," said Des as they walked back, "do you think I'm qualified to write an ITV sitcom?"


Copyright © Robert Williams
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