FRESH off the plane…new arrival Maeve Higgins' weekly take on life in Britain.
I got a call last week from an unknown number. That’s not even the most exciting thing, I’m boasting here but I know you’ll forgive me… I get a call or two almost every week from unknown numbers.
Since I got my braces off, my phone is pretty much always hopping. Usually it’s just my dad calling from the road — he’s not on the run, there’s just very poor reception in Cobh. This time though, it was a comedy promoter asking me to do a show in Hyde Park.
That’s right, little old me — taking over one of the fanciest parks in all of England. I immediately asked how many people fit in the park.
He couldn’t tell me for sure, but said it’s a 350-acre site and they were expecting at least one person per acre. He said he hoped those would bunch up a bit closer to create a bit of atmosphere and also, hopefully, fit more people in.
He said I only had to do 45 minutes of stand-up and they would pay me in British pounds. Honeyed words indeed, I said yes so quickly I bit my tongue, so it sounded like this: “Yesh… oooh ow… yesh.”
Curious to know who would be supporting me in my park-sized show, I did a bit of digging. Turned out it was a boy-band called JLS. That’s a catchy name made up of the initials of Jack The Lad Swing. I guess they just leave out the ‘T’ because JTLS makes so little sense compared to JLS.
I’d never heard of them but apparently they’ve been plugging away for years now. Show business can be tough for the non-Corrs of this world, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and didn’t kick up a fuss about having a bunch of unknowns warming up my audience for me.
I smiled indulgently at their try-hard press photos and practiced my gracious reaction when they thanked me for the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Hey,” I’d say, “I love urban music as much as the next guy, but I didn’t have the guts to make a career out if it. Maybe one day, boys, you will,” then I’d thump my heart with my fist and we’d all high-five.
In the end, I didn’t get to show them how cool and supportive I am, because we didn’t exactly meet. Turns out there were two stages in Hyde Park.
One was huge, surrounded by screens and speakers, out in the sunshine with thousands of people lying in the sun or queuing up for burgers, some managing to do both.
The other stage was more intimate, in a small, dark tent with barstools dotted around it and some people charging their phones and napping.
Myself and JLS took to our respective stages at exactly the same time. As I shouted to make myself heard over their opening number, The Hottest Girl in the World, I couldn’t help wonder if there’d been some kind of mix-up.