He paused, giving a moment for the audience to applaud, and three obliged, one of who, again, slapped his thigh. Dougie had his standard routine and knew where he’d get his laughs. Night after night he’d orate the same material, he’d performed for more than four decades, his responses were different, depending on who came, but the set up remained the same. It was the act that made him famous and was still funny to him. After all, it was his sense of humour that had kept him in the business for all that time. It was his jokes, delivered in his usual ornery style that kept him touring for more than forty years. His critics labelled him wild and crass and full of rage, the kind of comic they once called blue. Solemn and surly, grim, and brash, rough, curt, and crude and always quick to offend – his brand of comedy depended on it. He was purposefully repellent and invidious by design, he’d lob insults and hurl abuse, he was known for his shock, his malice and spite, and prone to passionate diatribes, flurries of ridicule and brutal barrages of slur to anyone in his audience unfortunate enough to snag his glare. He’d provoke his patrons to rebuttal and would target one for the show. But that night, it was his turn to take offense, that hollow crowd with their vacant laughter, was the most jarring insult of all.
…Is this even the city? Where the fuck am I? I’m in a pub I’ve never heard of – I never thought I’d see the day.
The line brought his first decent laugh of the night. It wasn’t his usual line, it was a rare ad lib and was spoken in truth and laughed at in honesty, as Dougie Style’s lifestyle was better remembered than his act. The couple against the wall broke their infatuation long enough to lend a soft chuckle as the man in the middle donated a polite chortle, but again the two voices from the front, echoed throughout the room, rendering the other laughter near silent with their zeal. The man at the front laughed harder and louder than before, drowning out the giggles of his wife and again slapping his thigh in hurrah. Dougie turned his attention to him, and pounced upon his unusual nature.
What are you doing there, mate? Slapping your thigh I see – you know this is no Seppo hoedown, don’t ya, mate? – bloody hell – just how far out of the city are we?
The man stood with a smile and wagged an empty sleeve, tied at the stump, where the bicep met the elbow, showing the room his impairment, before retaking his chair. Sandy’s nose tickled with the allure of prey, and wet his lips in anticipation – he had found his mark for the night.
What happened there mate? Wait – don’t tell me, you took an ugly one home, didn’t ya? – had to chew the old arm off, hey? – yeah, we’ve all heard the story. Let me ask you a question, mate, if