One Night Stand by Simon Taylor | Review of novel about a comedian facing a paternity crisis
review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

One Night Stand by Simon Taylor

Review of novel about a comedian facing a paternity crisis

Simon Taylor was a young, jobbing comedian on the Melbourne stand-up scene when a one-night stand led to a paternity scare that forced him to confront a different future from the one he’d envisaged.

Now he’s written his first novel – about a young, jobbing comedian on the Melbourne stand-up scene who had a one-night stand, leading to a paternity scare that forced him to confront a different future from the one he’d envisaged.

So it’s little surprise that the events in the book titled, you guessed it, One Night Stand, have an air of authenticity. The action starts in the Exford Hotel, a real-life backpackers’ hostel with weekly free comedy night, where our hero Ben Thomas is trying anything to engage with a thin audience of disinterested punters, despite being distracted himself.

Because four weeks and 1,700 miles ago he had been in Perth, where he hooked up with a blonde called Tash in a nightclub. And as he went on to the Exford’s stage - or at least patch of floor so designated - he received a text that revealed she was pregnant.

There’s a question mark over the father, though, as Tash had also slept with someone else a few nights earlier, leaving Ben in a limbo through most of the book.

His first thought – and several subsequent ones - was that this would ruin his comedy career. Although ‘career’ seems a grandiose term for what he confesses is more of a hobby he sometimes gets paid for. And not very handsomely, either, given the conditions he lives in.

Taylor concerns himself only with writing about Ben’s reaction to the situation - what it means to him and the life he wants. That, again, seems honest to a young man’s solipsism, but it seems a considerable failing for the book not to give the mother much of second thought.

Tash isn’t really depicted as a fully-fledged character with her own concerns about how a child will affect her life. Instead, she’s just an agent to give Ben a dilemma to deal with. She says she doesn’t necessarily expect anything of him, whether he turns out to be the dad or not, so whether Ben becomes a family entirely down to his conscience.

It’s true that Ben does become more empathetic towards her as he gets to know her more and the realisation of what might come next sinks in. That makes him more empathetic than first impressions might suggest, but it doesn’t alter the fact this is a one-sided narrative.

Nonetheless, the story from Ben’s side, as he mulls whether he is ready to give up his comedy dream to become a responsible adult, is relatable and well-told. There’s certainly a detailed insight into the concerns of an emerging comic, from dubious gigs to the hope of possible career breakthroughs, and from trying to turn life into material.

Taylor writes effectively, effortlessly and wittily, as you might hope from a comic who, from his own early days on the Melbourne scene, went on to write for Jay Leno in Los Angeles. And indeed he has already turned aspects of this story into stand-up, which can only have helped its narrative and pacing.

One Night Stand is certainly a brisk, entertaining page-turner, despite its omissions.

• One Night Stand by Simon Taylor is published by Australian firm Larrikin House and available as an import  from the publisher. It is priced $22.50 plus $11 postage to the UK (about £18.65 in total).

Published: 15 Mar 2021

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.