Saturday, April 02, 2005

In search of the big woof:

The title of today's tome comes from a stand-up comedian expression where something that is said (or even a look or gesture) really strikes a chord with the audience & they laugh much louder than normal- they laugh at each other as well & it rises into a sort of wave of hysteria through the audience. You certainly know when one happens but both the Turn and the Punters need to be on top form. When big Woofs happen, it is absolutely spine tingling as a shared experience for the audience and must be a craving for a wordsmith with a microphone.

It has nothing to do with dogs!

We mere mortals occasionally generate big woofs ourselves in shared company & they actually seem to work better without the aid of alcohol, when people are half cut it dulls the senses. (Comeny needs a lot of attention from the listener, or at least the non-Norman Wisdom kind does).

Now I am known as a bit of a dry, droll type who can say funny things dead-pan. People who know me well also know that I have a wicked sense of humour and if I am on form I can be very witty. (Although Karen says "if wit was shit...")

I can remember a few Woofs I have created over the years and I'll recount one of them.

It happened at my first (and only) Red Dwarf Conference in Northampton a long time ago, called Dimension jump 1992. Hatty Hayridge (who played Holly, the airhead computer) was telling us about some of the roughest gigs she had played, the worst of which was at a large, bleak club in Essex. (I've seen it but the name escapes me now). Also on the bill was someone who had done a bit of TV ads, most recently for Walkers Crisps. (It may have been Arthur Brown.). It seems the audience were on bottom form- rude, abusive, heckling, hostile. & that was just the bar staff...

Anyway, after a few minutes of indifference, Holly told us, watching from the wings, the punters started throwing bags of crisps at him!

At this point in the event, someone said something that made the room go quiet. They said:

"It's a good job Claire Rayner doesn't do standup".

There was a collective intake of breath then the room erupted with shrieks of laughter. I was also shocked to realise that the person who said it was me. After Holly regained her composure (which took a while as these things run in waves) she thanked me for the ad-lib and said the might incorporate it into her act.

(For those who don't know what the gag was, Claire Rayner was an author and agony aunt who had a spell advertising stick on pantie pads that she poured blue water on & pointed out the benefits of "Wings". It became such a running gag that when she appeared on an ITV Telethon the MD played "You are the wind beneath my wings" and apparently got into trouble for it!)

I'll get round to Heinrich Von Bollock & Liz & Dave's wedding some other time...

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