Gerard McKeown

The Comedian

Gerard McKeown

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     As I walk out of the open mic comedy night, every fucker in that crowd should count themselves lucky I’m not trailing their faces behind me, or kicking their decapitated heads in front of me, just to teach the fuckers how to laugh. Laugh you plumy bastards. You laughed liked best friends at all those other fuckers’ jokes, weak shit about their da, and watching TV. No one liked my Miley Cyrus routine. I’d buck her. Some fucker comes out to say tough break. I grab him by the throat and say I’ll break your bones you wee bastard. What do you think you’re smirking at? You weren’t so good at laughing when I needed you. I let him go and storm off. He shouts something after me about how I’m an unfunny cunt. I make like to go back after him and he runs off.

     I buy a pizza to cheer myself up. That’s the last of my dole. Some foreign girl selling flowers asks for a slice. I defend her from some fucker who says she was felt up by foreigners. I tell her that the foreign girl who’s eating my pizza may not even be from the same country as the ones who felt her up. She doesn’t like that. I give another slice to the foreign girl. I’d buck her too. She fucks off with two slices of my pizza. I eat the rest by myself and pish against a hospital. I hope I’m only a few meters from some fucker in a worse condition than me. I’m so pished, I boke my ring up. All that lovely pizza has gone to waste. I kick some old fucking mutt as it comes snuffling round trying to lick it up. I wish I had the dignity of a dog and didn’t mind getting down on all fours to eat boke.

     I see another comedian from the comedy club coming up the road with his mates, celebrating his success. He was a funny bastard, but I give him the fingers. He doesn’t see me but I know he feels it. He’s like me – thrives on being loved, withers on being shunned. Why did no one like my Miley Cyrus routine? I’d buck her. Sure she’s funny in herself. All I had to say was – look at the flaps on that. I think there were too many women in the audience. Their boyfriends knew if they laughed they wouldn’t be getting their hole that evening. Ballbags.

     The hostel won’t let me in, because I’m skint. I tell them about my bad luck at the comedy night but they don’t give a fuck. Bastards. I’d slap their fuck in but I’ll need to stay there another night. I go round me ma’s, but she’s asleep. I chuck stones at her windows and tell her to let me in because I’m cold and it’s dark. She says I should act like a grown-up – where’s my house? my job? my girlfriend? I tell her I’m working on those things. If she would just let me in because I’m half naked and I’m looking forward to a night on her lap. I mean her laptop. I meant laptop. I want to look at Miley Cyrus. I’d buck her. I’d sit on her lap. But let’s face it; that girl would buck a lamp post but she wouldn’t buck me. I shout up at me ma’s window that she can go and fuck herself. Me da sticks his head out and threatens to come down and kick the shite clean out of me. I tell him he can come down and try it. I’ll knock him out. He’ll come round in an old folks home, the feeble bastard. He says he’s getting his trousers on, but a neighbour shouts that he’ll call the police if we don’t shut up. I take to my heels. My da will think I’m a coward, but we all know I could take him.

     I go back to the house to steal a top off the washing line; my ma always leaves washing out overnight. I’m not sure how I lost my top in the first place. I must be more pished than I think. I know I could still take my da. I think about kicking the back door in and beating the shite out of him, but no. I might need to sleep there again some day.

     I’m trapped, too poor to give myself the foot up I need in life. I need somewhere to sleep tonight. The river is the only place I can think of that the peelers won’t shift me. I’ve no friends I could call, not after calling the comedy crowd a pack of bastards as they booed me off stage. Oh wait, that’s where I lost my shirt. I’d go back round, but they’re probably closed or having a lock in. They’ll not answer, especially if they know it’s me. No, the river it is. I can sleep under the bridge like Kurt Cobain did. Kurt Cobain was a weedy bastard. If he could hack it under a bridge, so could I.

     The rain’s pishing down by the time I reach the river, but the old footbridge gives me shelter. I’ve realized I’m wearing an old blouse of my mum’s. Why couldn’t I have taken one of my own tops? Fuck, I’m hungry. I start splashing my hand around in the water, feeling for fish. I’m sure if there’s any I could tickle some out. I’m folksy like that, but the river’s empty, apart from a rusty old trolley and some green slimy shit. A frog hops past me and scares the shite out of me. Fuck him. I try to kick the wee bastard, but he’s too fast. I want to cry, but really I want to laugh. I go back over my Miley Cyrus routine in my head. I’d buck her. It doesn’t work. I think of some of the other comedians’ stuff, but that just makes me angry. I lie on my arm until it goes to sleep, then I try to tickle myself, but that just feels weird.

     In the morning a dog wakes me up by pissing on me. I hate my life. I chase after it but the owner is a big unhinged skinhead. He chases me. I jump into the river to escape, which at least washes off the dog pish, but it’s dirty in a different way, so I’m hardly clean.

     I go back to my ma’s hoping for a big breakfast scran up, but there’s no answer; her and da must be away out. I’d love to dig my da in the mouth. I might do that after I get a feed. I go round the back and hop into the garden. The back door’s locked so I can’t get in. The washing’s been taken in off the line, so I’m stuck wearing her old blouse. I look a right dick. The snotters are pouring out my nose. Sleeping outside’s given me the cold. I hope ma and da come back soon because I’m pure starving. I wipe my nose with the back of my hand and flick it at the windows, just like I used to flick it at people at school. School was some craic. I was pure mad. Everybody laughed at my jokes then, but that time has long passed.

     I spend hours sitting in the garden. Where the fuck are ma and da? When I look in the window I see all their stuff’s gone. What the fuck like? I go round the neighbour’s house and ask if he knows anything. He said they moved out this morning! First I’ve heard of it! Imagine not telling me they were going? What a rotten pack of bastards. He doesn’t know where they’ve gone. I’m all alone in the world, like an orphan, kind of. I try to break in, just to see my home once more; the place I grew up is empty and no longer exists. That’s kind of deep. I can’t get in, but I cut my hand trying. I have to suck it to stop the blood. Blood is tasty. If I saw my da right now, I’d knock him out. I should have put those fuckers in a home years ago.

     The hostel have given my room to someone else, so I’m back sleeping in a bunk in the same dorm as the other wankers. I start a fight with the guy who took my room, but the guys on the front desk pull us apart (or I’d have won for sure). Now I’m out on the street. I don’t know what my parents did with my clothes when they moved out. Maybe I should have checked the bins. I sit in the park for a few hours, wondering if I should go home, or to the building that used to be home, and kick the door in. I need somewhere to sleep. No way am I going back to the bridge again.

     I do a dance in front of some winos, hoping they’ll give me a share of their drink. It gets them laughing. Thinking maybe I’ve found my audience, I start running through my Miley Cyrus routine. I’d buck her. But the head wino hits me a punch in the mouth and tells me to fuck off. I walk to the nearest bench and have a good cry.  Maybe some of this hard living will give me good material for my next comedy routine, but for now I’ll just wait for my mouth to stop bleeding. This is the worst day of my life. Maybe if I dance for the winos again, they’ll give me a bit of their drink, or at least tickle me. I could use a laugh.


Gerard McKeown


Gerard McKeown is an Irish writer living in London. His work has been featured in: 3:AMLitro and Neon, among others. His story Dunvale was highly commended in The Moth's 2015 Short Story Competition. His story The Longest Nickname in the World was longlisted for Over The Edge's New Writer of the Year award.