Room for a Laugh: Ups and downs of life on an ocean wave

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The world of our weekly columnist, Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013.

I don’t know where I stand on boats. Ideally somewhere towards the middle where the rocking is less noticeable.

I certainly like the concept of open water but I have never had the constitution to sail on it. I suppose I like looking at water.

I can’t remember being on a boat since a Spanish man politely, but firmly, suggested I never set foot on his catamaran again.

I assured him I wouldn’t unless I wanted to attend a fancy dress party as a convincingly pale Casper the Friendly Ghost. He didn’t reply. Lost in translation.

I have been told I could manage a cruise as you barely know you’re moving and, I must say, I have been tempted by the luxury as well as the golden opportunity to ask the crew classics like: “Do these stairs go up or down?” “Will I get wet if I go snorkelling?” and/or “How far above sea level are we?”

Regrettably, a quick glance at my student overdraft has necessitated putting Jewels of the Seas on hold, possibly forever.

The entertainment also fascinates me.

Unlike your comedian’s average work pattern, performing on cruise ships gives you the unrivalled opportunity to die on your jacksie three times a day.

Oh, Tom! More stand-up horror stories!

Anyone would think comedy is just one infinite triple jump event, leaping awkwardly between an implausibly dangerous number of frying pans and fires.

It’s not, I assure you, but the stories about doing well in front of 200 comedy literate, regular comedy goers, all sat facing the stage in a low-ceilinged, darkened room with a raised performance area and a good quality lighting and sound system just don’t possess the same intrigue.

Famously - or infamously - one comedian (I’ll call him Don which is almost his name) was detained in his cabin by the captain after his third not-overly-successful performance.

The captain reasoned that if Don was seen out and about on deck, passengers who had attended one of his shows would be understandably upset.

He could not risk upsetting their holiday further so Don was to be imprisoned until he could be discretely helicoptered to land at nightfall.

Mike Gunn once told me that he was swimming in the lower pool when a breaststroking woman (now there’s a line from a Carry On film) splashed up to him:

Woman: Are you that comedian from last night?

Mike: Yes.

Woman: We thought you were disgusting. [Paddle off pool right]

Tom Stade, who headlined Sitting Room last night, also ran into a spot of trouble and was informed by a crew member that the captain wished to see him, that he should not eat in the captain’s presence, that he should not sit down unless invited and that he should always call the captain ‘captain’.

To the surprise of no one who has ever met or seen Tom perform, the captain walked into his office to see Tom sat with feet on desk, munching a banana.

Mr Stade greeted him with a cheery, “well, what seems to be the problem Steve?”

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns on Wednesday, April 9 with Sitting Room favourite and award-winning comedian, songwriter and playwright Boothby Graffoe with support from Mickey Sharma, Peter Brush and Phil Ellis.

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails