This wasn’t a normal gig by any stretch of the imagination.
Chris is off to London to seek his fame and fortune, and as he has compered this gig since its inception eighteen months ago it seemed appropriate to use it to give him a good send-off. He got to hand-pick the acts he has most enjoyed in this time, and also took a lot of good-natured abuse before he left too. The line-up consisted of names familiar to Glasgow comedy regulars, and to those familiar with this blog – Asim Ali, Ross Main, Geoff Gawler, Will Setchell, Eddie Cassidy, Julia Sutherland, Obie, and the legend that is Jim Hobbit. You most likely noticed the omission of my own name from that list…
About three weeks ago, in Box of all places – an in-joke, since that’s where we end up most nights – I came up with a couple of rhyming lines about Chris and thought maybe I should try and write a poem for his leaving do. I ran them past Ross, Malky, and Sarah Crone, who all said I should go for it, and then told Chris I’d write him a poem. He jokingly accused me of shoe-horning myself onto the bill, but since I’ve written comic poems for or about friends in the past it didn’t seem much of a departure.
That said, I then put off writing it for those remaining weeks – wasn’t sure if I could, wasn’t sure if I know him well enough to have anything to say, wasn’t sure how it might go down. I jotted a few notes, failed to decide on a rhyming scheme, and then when I did come up with three lines I liked I couldn’t think of a fourth. And so it stayed as a collection of half-arsed ideas which I thought I’d try and collate at the last minute. As it happened, thanks to my fucked sleep pattern, I was lying in bed wide awake at 4am one night during Easter Weekend, and started jotting ideas down by the light of my phone. I managed to get eight verses out, of which seven went into the final draft. Who knew insomnia could be serendipitous?
With a bit of reworking, my original ideas were made to fit in with the device I’d decided to employ, whereby every fourth line referred back to the subject at hand rather than rhyming with the preceding three. It came together quite well, with surprisingly little effort, and after I’d trimmed out the unfunny repetition of ideas I had something I thought might get a few laughs and also pay fitting tribute to him. All I had to do was deliver it…
I arrived at The Halt late, having literally just finished redrafting it into a readable format, as Ross was opening the second section of the show. The place was packed with punters, regulars and comedians, with a really upbeat atmosphere since this was essentially a party. Malky was due to go up next, and we’d agreed that he’d introduce me as a surprise guest. To facilitate this, I went outside and round through the pub to come back in by the door nearest the stage. Chris was standing there, and told me I looked nervous. I was just glad he didn’t guess why.
Ross finished, and came off to stand by the pair of us while Malky made his way onstage from Comedians Corner. He began “As you know, this is always the joke-free section of the show, but tonight, that’s going to be different. Jordan!” And he left the stage, while I made my way to the mic. I briefly explained (far more succinctly than I have explained to you thus far) the background to this poem, telling Chris I was going to serenade him without any music, and then began. The title got a laugh, “Chris Henry’s Off To London”, and I reacted to that by explaining I don’t really do simile or metaphor. Overall, it got many more laughs than I expected, absolutely huge laughs in places, and I was relieved that everyone liked it. Here, since this is probably why you’re reading this, is my tribute to Chris:
“Chris Henry’s Off To London”
I’ll tell the tale that takes its toll,
If comedy’s the new rock n roll
Here’s a guy who’s sold his soul –
Chris Henry’s off to London.
A high-energy compere who can’t compare,
Well turned-out, with his Jedward hair,
Introduces each act with tact and flair,
Chris Henry’s off to London.
Supporting new acts he’s mostly nice –
Offers kind words, reassurance, advice.
Hell, he’s only slagged me off once or twice,
Chris Henry, who’s off to London.
“Heckle me instead” he says, and takes the knocks
With quick putdowns that prove he rocks.
But whose custom is going to sustain Box
When Chris Henry goes to London?
For a straight man he acts very gay,
His theme tune’s “Barbra Streisand”, so what more can you say?
But it turns out campness is just the way
Of Chris Henry, who’s off to London.
So this hard-working man who loves a joke
Is off to make it in the Big Smoke.
When he’s a big shot we’ll all be stoked
That Chris Henry went to London.
And though we’re all here and in the throes
Of celebrating, I’m sure he knows
We all just want to make sure he goes –
Chris Henry’s going to London.
But he’s never failed to give his all,
In modern parlance he makes us “lol.”
Our favourite Topman-themed Troll Doll
Chris Henry’s off to London.
So fair play to him for taking the punt,
I’ve been poetic now I’ll be blunt,
And say we’re all going to miss that cunt,
When Chris Henry goes to London.
So there you go. He liked it and said when I send him a copy of it he’ll put it on his own website, which if it happens will be quite a compliment. Immediately, however, he told Malky that it was unacceptable for him not to do a spot, and so Malky was duly cheered back to the stage (for maybe the only time), where he delivered all the jokes we’ve come to know and love – taking requests as we shouted out the bits we wanted to hear. Ross and Chris turned to me, engaging me in their plan to hoist Malky up as a hero at the end of his set, and so while Chris took the mic Ross and I managed to co-ordinate remarkably well in getting Malky by the legs and lifting him to shoulder height to massive cheers. All good fun 🙂
Further unique highlights of the night came with Ross and Chris’s reworking of Tenacious D’s song “Tribute”, first aired at Car Crash Comedy, with lyrics changed to reflect The Halt gig. That was preceded by Ross, Will and Geoff beatboxing and rapping a reworded version of the theme to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, which also got a huge reception. The atmosphere tonight was just incredible – upbeat, warm and friendly, everyone in a party mood. I’m glad I got to experience it.
The joke competition this week ran, by popular demand, “What’s the difference between Chris Henry and [any inanimate object you choose]?” – there were dozens of entries, three times as many as usual, with some real crackers. The ones I can recall are:
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and twenty pounds?
You’ll get a drink out of twenty pounds.
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and a left breast?
Chris Henry is a right tit.
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and an object of my choosing?
You get to choose the object.
Those were mine, here are some others I remember:
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and 1001 other people?
1001 other people didn’t unfollow me on Twitter
– Joe Hullait
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and an umbrella?
They both stop me from getting wet.
– Sarah Crone
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and a transvestite?
Steven Halcrow wouldn’t shag Chris Henry.
– Adam Struth [with reference to Halcrow’s material]
And the eventual winner, after the cheer-off involved Chris shouting the punchlines “Rapist” and “Sexpest” to determine which he is(!)
What’s the difference between Chris Henry and a sex pest?
[rest of sheet left blank]
And that was that, we all headed to Box and drank until it shut, and then others went to the casino to keep drinking. It was a great night and a fitting send-off. I hope Chris enjoys his time in London and gets what he wants from it. As Obie said at the top of his set, fair play to him for taking the punt and following his dream.
Onwards and upwards.