leicester flashbacks

I’m on a train to the Leicester Comedy Festival.

This is, all at once, surprising, relieving, exciting and intimidating: surprising because I didn’t plan to come to Leicester this year until Rik and Fraser from the 80’s Movie Flashback (who I blogged about back in Edinburgh) cornered me at Kate and David’s wedding a week or two ago and offered me a cameo role in their reworked show. Which they were bringing to Leicester. And to which I said an emphatic yes, even before they had told me what it would involve (more on this later).

The relief is because it means I’ve got something to keep me busy this weekend while Nan is in the air flying to Thailand. She’s going to stay with people there, and then in China, for the next couple of months. And the problem is not so much that I’ll miss her (which of course I will) but that I hate planes and will spend the next day and a half until she arrives being semi-convinced that she’s either dead or wounded up a mountain range considering a re-enactment of the film Alive. I went with her to Heathrow this morning, and spent as much time watching the airport security people (in the hope that they were doing their jobs properly and not letting ANYONE through) as I did saying goodbye to her.

Anyway, so doing Leicester with the Flashback will keep my mind on the ground and off cannibalism. Essentially all they need me to do is some straightforward tech-ing, and then come on and do a Manuel-in-fawlty-towers-style gormless-turn for a few minutes; but they are all so lovely to work with, and the show is such beautifully shambolic fun, that I would have done it even if all they wanted was for me to come on stage and be shat on. (Which actually isn’t far off what I’m doing). Plus it feels wonderful to do such a frivolous thing as to be genuinely liberated from the insane ego-inflating-bursting-cartwheel that is normal stand-up.

Also, it meant two bonus points: the first was being involved with a show at the Hen and Chickens Theatre last night in Highbury – where the show went well, the stars were great, and my cameo actually seemed to get good laughs – and having a proper reason to come up to Leicester.

Which is why I’m excited. There have been a few comedy festivals that have either started or expanded rapidly in te last few years, in competition with each other to become the second-biggest comedy festival on the calendar (after Edinburgh of course) and Leicester is arguably winning. Well, coming second. But that still makes it worth coming to.

The only intimidating part is that the last time I came to Leicester it was on the 17th December 1995; I was a teenage Norwich City fan; and this happened.

We got beaten, lost our brilliant manager to the team that beat us, and the winning goal was scored by “the 17-year-old substitute Emile Heskey.” Who had come on in the second half and humiliated us. At the end of that season, Leicester were promoted to the Premier League and Norwich have stayed roughly where they are ever since. Well, at least until we got relegated again.

And that is all my previous experience of Leicester.

So I’ll let you know how this weekend goes…


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