I happened to have a drink with stand-up Dan Antopolski the other night where I told him the following story:
When I first began trying to do stand up in 1996 I had a beard and long hair and thus began every set with a Jesus joke. It was a good joke, almost guaranteed to work and I soon came to depend upon it to set the laughs rolling.
This was all well and good until one fateful night at a gig at the Dry Dock in Leeds. My opening Jesus joke, my banker, my comedy jewel, - got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a titter. And I died on my arse.
read moreI couldn’t understand it. Until someone pointed out to me that the crowd were all regulars. And that last week there had been an act on with a beard and long hair – doing an opening joke where he alluded to looking like Jesus. That act’s name was Dan Antopolski.
That was 1998. And the other night, I found myself explaining to Dan how eight years previously he had been responsible for me getting a shave and a haircut and writing a new opening joke.
We laughed at the idea and drank some more wine. Talk began to move onto other things, but I wasn’t done. I reached into my rucksack and produced a clear plastic bag containing a darkish lump.
“What’s that?” said Dan, his smile looking a little uncertain.
“It’s my old hair and beard.” I said. “I kept it, just in case I ever ran into you.”
Dan looked confused as I handed him the bag. The hair was mottled green with a little mould, nothing too severe. It was eight years old, after all.
“What’s this? What do you mean?” said Dan.
“You’re going to eat it.” I said. “And I’m going to watch you.”
Dan blinked. I didn’t. Neither of us were smiling now.
“Is this a joke?” said Dan. He looked hopeful.
“What do you think?” I said, head cocked.
I handed him the salt.