The best thing about doing a stage show? Getting the night bus home afterwards

This might look like a normal column...

Share

I have started to augment my income as a columnist by working on the London stage in the evenings. It’s not solely about the money – I couldn’t be happier with what The Independent gives me and, in fact, when you take into account the quality of the columns, I think they’re incredibly generous. It’s just that I have an interest in the stage, and so I like to keep my hand in.

My current stage work takes place in the East of London and I’m contracted to do it more or less every night. The point is, it’s taking it out of me, and though I’ve fought hard to prevent it from happening, the additional workload is putting the squeeze on what I know is my bread and butter – the column. I’m not too proud to admit it: I am writing this at 1am on the night bus. I’ve got a bottle of Cobra in one hand, a fairly spicy KFC burger in the other, and with what’s left, I’m scrawling this into my notepad. It is barely legible and inevitably it is starting to get smeared in chicken and Indian drink.

I had wanted this column to be about how I prepare for my show. My technician said that it might be interesting to tell people how I gear up to the moment I waddle out into the lights and face down my audience. But increasingly I sense myself being dragged away from that theme. I think that inevitably this will end up being about night buses and the curious creatures you find upon them. The man across from me, for example, is bald and is eating a Jamaica Ginger Cake as if it were a banana. A young lady in front of him is carrying a goldfish bowl. She is pale and has, I assume, been given the bowl by the host of a house party, lest she become ill on her journey home. Some Spaniards are being quite rowdy to my rear.

My journey to the theatre is very different from this. My routine commences approximately an hour before I set off. I have a bath and forget about my cares (the column) and relax in my suds, before getting out and drying off on my pale green towel. Then I make some fish, usually a Tesco trout or some anchovies or bream, and have that with vegetables in front of Dragons’ Den. The whole thing is geared towards eradicating stress, readying myself emotionally to stand before people on raked seating. I’ll wash up, get dressed, jam some earphones in my lugholes and head to work. And that’s me, for an hour and half walking along a canal. And it feels great, to be honest. Serenity-wise, it’s a far cry from this.

The more I stare at what I have written, the less I feel I’m going to be able to type this up. More and more ketchup keeps dripping on it and I keep getting nudged by a 40-year-old drunkard to my right. He’s talking to himself and occasionally he prods my words and asks if it is about him. I tell him that it is not. To my left the bald nugget – using his heavy-handed system of peeling and munching – has seen off about two-thirds of his Jamaica Ginger Cake. The Spaniards are still a force. But it doesn’t matter, this is post-show.

Post-show, I can afford this. It’s OK for it to be chaotic. It’s before that I need the perfect conditions. Backstage I sit quietly, popping grapes and necking Evian until the appointed hour. Then I sling on my denim onesie, punch my dressing-room door as hard as I can, and am rolled in front of the lights. Pre-show is when everything has to be just so.

Now, my work is done (except for the column). I’m heading home. I’m counting my words now. Contractually I’ve done what I have to do, and typed up it will look like a normal column. I swig from my Cobra. I turn and start chanting with the Spaniards.

Tim Key’s show, ‘Single White Slut’,  is at the Arcola Tent, London E8, to 29 March

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones