'I'm sure my comedy's the talk of Kandahar' | Geoff Norcott on his Unforgettable Five gigs

'I'm sure my comedy's the talk of Kandahar'

Geoff Norcott on his Unforgettable Five gigs

First gig

I was eight years old at a holiday camp in the Isle of Wight. It was a ‘best cowboy’ competition (I don’t know what this is either, we had no access to horses). I went out in an over-sized waistcoat and a gun holster that was dragging behind me on the floor. It looked like the beginning of a terrible high concept family comedy where a cowboy had been shrunk and sent to England.

I was supposed to say ‘My name’s Geoff and I come from Texas’. Instead I said ‘My name’s Geoff and I come from Essex’. Everybody laughed. A star was born.

Strangest audience member

Last year, one woman found it so odd that a comedian would come to Edinburgh with a show about why he voted Conservative. I remember her studying me quizzically throughout the show. However at the Fringe, with people seeing eightshows a day, ‘quizzical’ is in the mid-range of audience responses so I took it as a win.

She waited in the courtyard after and said ‘You can stop doing the voice now. It’s a character act isn’t it?’ I let her buy me dinner. She knew I was genuinely working-class when I asked for salad cream with my Tuna Nicoise.

Most exotic gig

While all these pussy comics are doing vegan festivals somewhere in Wales for free manuka honey, yours truly was out doing gigs on the frontline in Afghanistan. Over the years the ‘frontline’ bit has had a bit of VAT added to it. I started out at a base and the story now has me telling knob gags while on foot patrol in Helmand Province. While rescuing Afghani children.

It is said that my ‘women leave things on the bottom step of the stairs’ routine is still the talk of Kandahar.

Worst journey to a gig

See above. It once took me three days to get to Camp Bastion. The oddest thing about army transit is once you realise you’re powerless over something so much bigger, you find different parts of your brain to sit in and think nothing. I don’t want to overstate things, but I probably now know what the guys on the D-Day landings felt like.

However, such life lessons are totally ephemeral. Within a week I was on the phone crying to my wife because I was on the M4 and my middle slot at Bath Komedia was looking touch-and-go.

Least welcome post-show comment

‘Come with me to the car-park mate, I need a word’.

It was a Christmas show and I was doing a double-hander with the legendary Geoff Whiting. While Whiting was on, the bloke heckled and he got the appropriate put-down. Everyone laughed, the bloke went to the bar and drank steadily for the rest of his set then came back in while I was on.

He was drunk and confused, but once he’d checked my name was also ‘Geoff’ he thought I was the same guy.

‘I’m not Geoff Whiting!’ remains one of the oddest things I’ve said on stage.

Geoff Norcott: Right-Leaning But Well-Meaning, Underbelly George Square, 18:40

Published: 9 Aug 2017

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