Sunday, September 30, 2012

Excellent weekend, not a balls-up

I'm still taking time to adjust to having made it to the finals of the comedy competition this year. After the previous four attempts, where each time I seemed to get closer, only to miss qualification, like I was approaching but never reaching some comic asymptote, I didn't have much faith in my chances. It's horrible, really: you sit in a room where the aim of everyone is to make the audience laugh and have a good time, and you're willing everyone else to fail, or at least do badly enough that they don't interfere with your path to the finals.

Some people went over time, and as the red light glowed, so did a little candle of schadenfreude inside my heart, and I was disappointed at myself, yet somehow exultant. When it came to the results, I felt sick - I buried my head in my arms, embracing the back of the chair in front of me. I'd had another one of my stellar preliminary sets, the same kind for the last two competitions that put me within a point of contention, but was never quite enough. Spring Day, one of the comedians who'd flown in from Japan, was going to sweep the board and I could guarantee I'd be in fourth place. Yet again.

I suppose at least this time I would be losing out to foreign comedians and I'd be a foreign comedian too. That sort of logic never makes much sense.

I didn't get third. That was that. I'd not be in the finals.

Except when it came to second place, that was me, and I had a grin wider than my face as I jumped on stage to get my photograph taken. Spring didn't place at all, which surprised me (although the scoring is always surprising in the preliminaries, what with the different judges, the different audience, the different competitors...). Finally, after a crushing disappointment, another heartrending miss, going over time and not really minding any more, and another 1-point bungle, I was through to the finals.

I stayed up until two, chatting with some of the other comedians, trying not to beam too much; some of them had got through, some of them hadn't, and you don't want some grinning halfwit extolling the virtues of their own fortune when you're deep in a mire of gloom. It's hardest when it's your first failure, I suppose: the pressure cooker of this event is one that I've always struggled with, and I could try to help others, but I'm not sure if anything anyone else says is really consolation.

I got back to my friend's flat where I'm staying, flopped into bed after I'd told my wife the good news, and went to sleep, failing to get up in the morning for my scheduled run, and then taking an hour to book a holiday with my wife. Technology is harder than it should be. Always.

I flicked through my friend's copy of Noakes' Running Lore. Apparently tests have shown that male runners are more likely to get their wives pregnant with boys than girls, but only if they run less than 48 miles per week, or more than 120. I'm not sure if the tests were statistically significant (or indeed the testes) but I wonder why this phenomenon would occur. There are more male than female sperm produced (because you need to produce more boys for gender parity, because (here comes a massive generalisation) boys ride more motorcycles and have more fights in pubs than girls, so they have a higher mortality rate that nature corrects for), so perhaps the shaking and pounding of all that running kills male sperm more effectively than female sperm, but only does so seriously once you hit the 48 mile barrier. But, the male sperm that do survive must be super tough, like French Foreign Legion spermatazoa, and so once that mileage goes beyond 120, the female sperm are dying in droves and the only ones left are those hardy male mercenary sperm, hiding in the desert from their pasts in exchange for a fresh passport in a decade.

Er. I think I'm extending a metaphor more than I need to. Or you shouldn't run for extended periods on the balls.

Of your feet.


Lunch was celebratory dim sum with some of the other comedians, and then in the afternoon I pottered around, trying to show some of the visitors from Singapore some of the attractions of Hong Kong, and just walking them round and round the IFC mall. Well, it it a pretty important part of Hong Kong to some Hong Kongers, so I suppose I was doing my tourist guide bit.

We went to my favourite coffee bar, Fuel, and not only did the guy at the till recognise me, when I hadn't been there for six months and I only ever appeared once a week, but he also complimented me on losing weight. So that was another boost to my self-esteem, in the same month that somebody told me they thought I was only in my mid-twenties. Maybe all that fresh fruit is working.

Finally, having deposited comedian at the airport express, I went back to the flat, changed into my running kit, and took a taxi to Happy Valley to run 10k. I was meant to run this as hard as the shorter, hard run I did on Tuesday - and that was on a full night's sleep and proper hydration, not staying out late drinking gin and not eating properly all day. But I hit the same rhythm, my arms and legs pumping a constant tempo round and round the track, and I did my best 10k since New Year's Day 2007 - pretty good for an old(er) guy. Maybe it was the coffee that did it.

In the evening, I went back to Tin Hau, my old stomping ground in Hong Kong. It's Mid Autumn Festival, which means half of Hong Kong is also in Tin Hau, possibly to look at the great tourist attraction: massive crowds. We had a good dinner, tried and failed to get dessert at Ching Ching, and then headed home - I had a cat to cuddle.

I've also got a new addition to my martial arts joke:

I'm running a Chinese MMA gym. It's called Wonton Violence.

Ah, come on, you know it's as side splitting as my old shoe material (and that might make a comeback on Saturday night).


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