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Stand Up (excerpt) (1 Viewer)

SR Steed

Senior Member
The old man lazed back in his chair and puffed out his cheeks. I just stood there and waited for his judgement. He read my material, squinting over each line with unconcealed irritation, as if what lay in his hands was a mere piece of paper with words on it. When he finished reading he exhaled emphatically and looked up to me with strained and twitchy eyes.

“Uhhh?” I asked.

“This won’t do,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

I blinked several times in sympathy. “You okay?”

“It’s nothing. Forgot my glasses. Forget about that. You can’t use this.”

“Are you serious?” I said, failing to hide a note of panic. It came out a little too loud, a little too forced. “Why can’t I? Ain’t this, you know, not right?”

“I can assure you those are all idiotic questions.”

The room we occupied had irregular dimensions, irregular in the sense that this was supposed to be a room in which I presumed humans are meant to do something, though what a human could do in a room like this in a club like this was anybody’s guess. The walls cramped us in but the ceiling hung up high, and as I looked up at the ceiling it struck me with a swaying sensation of inverted vertigo. The height of the ceiling in here was incongruous with the height of the ceiling in the hallway outside, and seemed to serve no purpose, except maybe to taunt me. The second I had stepped into the room I suffered the almost imperceptible feeling of being sucked up. To get my bearing I leaned against the door, and could hear from the other side the staff as they rushed either way down the hall. In the not too distant background there were the sounds of people settling in at their tables, ordering drinks, and hoping to have a good time.

“So wait, why then, why are you getting a say over my material?”

“Typical. The comedian thinks he can waltz into any establishment and say whatever he likes.”

Yes I do. “Yes. No I…” I stopped and creased up my nose. Start again. “What can I use?”

“Something funny, perhaps. Maybe something not so cruel.” He brought his thumb and forefinger up to pull off his glasses, presumably in an attempt at graveness, but after a couple of perplexed pinches at thin air he remembered his glasses weren’t there and made up for this by pretending to brush an imaginary fly or something away from his face. “My people want to relax. They don’t want to listen to a know it all rant and rave and force his politically correct agenda down our throats.”

“Politically correct? How can it be, on the one hand, be cruel, then all of a sudden be all politically correct?”

He sighed. “You don’t have time for this. Just do something more appropriate or don’t do it all, and stop asking me such stupid questions.”

“What stupid questions?”

Instead of answering he got up, making me step away from the door before I could say anything, and left. He left me with that ceiling, and those walls, and on one of those walls was the pronounced ticking of a tiny clock telling me I was on in ten minutes. A sweat was coming on, and add to that the room being so confined, meant the usual preparatory was pacing out of the question. I sat down in the now unoccupied chair, but the unbespectacled man’s vestigial warmth didn’t help.

He had said, “My people want to relax.” My people? The way he matter-of-factly challenged me had me thinking he was the owner or the manager or the like. But now, he could be a customer referring to fellow customers. He could be anybody. He could be the head of a work party on a night out, drunk on all that power he thinks is his as organiser, or the father of a good clean fun type of family with some other good clean fun families who have no business being at a club at this time of night, yet I had tried to justify myself, what I do and how I do it, to this total stranger. Or maybe he was with the club after all, and happened to refer to his customers in an odd way. Whatever the case it was not what I needed, it was the opposite of what I needed, and was delivered to me in a baffling form, as it always is. Why can’t things make sense?

In that not too distant background a scream rang out, followed by a lot of laughs. Someone had done something stupid or clumsy in front of a lot of people. They’re all enjoying themselves. At another time I’d have took what sounded like a receptive audience as good news. But all I thought of was of me being an unnecessary add-on, trying to dictate what laughs are allowed, and forcing some agenda I didn’t know I had down their throats.

A single knock on the door gave me a start. “Two minutes,” said a floating female voice from the other side. The clock confirmed this. So that was eight minutes wasted on fretting. I hadn’t rehearsed anything. I hadn’t even decided what I was to do about this man and his orders. I picked up my notes he had left strewn on the floor, uncrumpled it, and read it through. I couldn’t take anything in. It just seemed like a piece of paper with words on it.

“Alright, any second now,” said the other side of the door. I recrumpled the notes back into my pocket and got out into the hallway to find it empty. Whoever had told me how long I’ve got had work of her own to do, my warnings being just another inconvenience in her hectic schedule. The dimly lit hallway narrowed, or appeared to narrow, down my left, which way ended in a few upward steps that would lead me to where I was supposed to perform. That narrow end, and the conversations emanating beyond it, did nothing to help shake off my invertigo. If that man wanted his people to relax why didn’t he take them to a bingo hall or a brothel? This is no place to relax. This is comedy here.

I closed my eyes and imagined strolling out past the audience and out of the front entrance and doing all those things I’d never actually do. But this was interrupted by someone in real life over-enthusiastically announcing my name. My time had come, and I went out there, and died a horrible death.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Background is important, but you must consider its relative importance, there is a lot of unnecessary in the background here, look,

The room = had irregular dimensions, it was supposed to be a room where humans are meant to do something, though what a human could do in a room like this in a club like this was anybody’s guess. The walls cramped us in but the ceiling was high, and as I looked up = it gave me = a swaying sensation of inverted vertigo. It was incongruous with the height of the ceiling in the hallway outside, and seemed to serve no purpose, except maybe to taunt me. = I had stepped into the room and had an imperceptible feeling of being sucked up. To get my bearing I leaned against the door, and could hear = the staff the other side as they rushed up and down the hall. In the = background = were the sounds of people settling = at = tables, ordering drinks, and hoping to have a good time.

I have put a = where I have simply deleted something and bold where I have replaced, I am not saying I have got it perfectly right, but taking out all the indefinites like 'I suppose' rarely damages meaning and makes for a much easier, snappier read.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I was in the mood to write and had nothing to write about once, so I decided to write a description of the tea towel lying on the cooker. It was a relatively simple object, but I was amazed how difficult it was to get a full, accurate description simply in words. I would reccomend it as an exercise in ordering words and concepts, and in observation, but pick something simple or you will find it nigh on impossible. It led on to a whole story, but that's another story. :)

There is a good base in here, but it gets a bit lost at times with the expansion, for example,
Whatever the case it was not what I needed, it was the opposite of what I needed, and was delivered to me in a baffling form, as it always is. Why can’t things make sense?
I could have got the sense perfectly well with "This was not what I needed, I found it confusing", or some such short version, "it was not what I needed, it was the opposite of what I needed," is nigh on tautology.
 

Seckroth24

Senior Member
I had trouble with the description as well and had trouble following it. I feel like this story definitely has potential. Keep working on it and you will get it there!
 

Jo Tampoco

Senior Member
I'm going to have to disagree. Ok - it's sort of clumsy in places but the corrected alternatives are just flat and boring.
I read the whole thing through quickly first and got it immediately. So, although there are bits of the original that might on close inspection seem extraneous, I suspect they're doing something useful.
Compare:
a) The room we occupied had irregular dimensions, irregular in the sense that this was supposed to be a room in which I presumed humans are meant to do something, though what a human could do in a room like this in a club like this was anybody’s guess.
with:
b)
The room had irregular dimensions, it was supposed to be a room where humans are meant to do something, though what a human could do in a room like this in a club like this was anybody’s guess.
Sorry Olly but (a) is just funnier. I don't know why.
 

BoyHowdy

Member
If that man wanted his people to relax why didn’t he take them to a bingo hall or a brothel? This is no place to relax. This is comedy here.

This line was really funny.

I think all writing, no matter how experienced and knowledgeable the writer, can be improved with an insertion here, a deletion there, a reworking of a sentence/paragraph here. But I really think that this needs only minor polishing (to the author's satisfaction, based on his/her preferred style). Perhaps it's just me, but I've noticed over the years that those who can tell a really good story, who just have a knack for spinning an entertaining yarn, often show less (if, as in this case, by only a bit) strength with the mechanics (if that's the right word) such as description, or poetic prose, etc. And those who can write flowery exposition with impeccable precision, often can't actually tell a story worthy of a reader's time; they can only describe a setting. Personally, I prefer a good storyteller. And I think that's what we have here. Because of its length, it's hard to say much about such things as character development, plot, etc. but a lot of ability has been displayed here, in my humble opinion.

I know a lot of people say this, but if this is just an excerpt, I'd genuinely like to read the entire piece.

BH
 
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