The Sound of Applause. The silly creatures.
Applause. I hate it, but I can’t do without it. Like most entertainers I need it. It’s like a drug. It’s the only way I can exist. I tell jokes. I know nothing else. There is nothing else I can do. I cannot do mechanical things, nor can I understand how this world’s system works. It is too complicated for me, too haphazard, much too severe.
I was introduced to this world by accident, a big accident. It took all my guile and energy to survive. I used to mingle in pubs and clubs, trying to be inconspicuous, picking up the odd joke, some good apparently, some not so good. I got quite a collection and I needed them, believe me. I was on my last legs, so to speak.
So I became a comedian.
Applause feeds me and gives me enough energy to survive. Just.
I live in a shed. I call it my shed, but it isn’t really. It belongs to one of the creatures I followed from the pub. Heaven sent, it stood there in the moonlight, a home from home.
Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Of course, a house doesn’t jump at all.
There’s not much in the shed. A few old things. Not as old as me, though. And spiders. Quite a few spiders. Webs in the corners. That kind of thing. I don’t sleep much but I don’t really need to. I just rest – recover from my comedic exertions. Telling jokes takes a lot out of me, but it’s good to be appreciated.
What is the difference between a snowman and a snow woman? Snowballs.
I don’t really understand that one. It doesn’t make sense at all. But the audience like it, that’s the main thing. So I keep telling it.
I look down at my suit. I made it myself from stuff in the shed and what I found on one of my midnight walks. Stuff they hang on horizontal lines, fluttering in the breeze. They’d call it stealing, I guess that’s what they’d call it. The jacket is yellow with green spots I put on myself. It makes them laugh. When I walk on the stage they laugh. I think that is good.
I have to keep in shape, though. It takes so much energy, this keeping in shape. More energy than I thought I possessed. But I manage. I have to. There’s no alternative. Jokes, and lots of them. Telling them once a week. Keep in shape to tell the jokes, to survive in this crazy world.
But it gets to me, not knowing what else to do. It breaks my heart, or would do if I had one.
I dreamed I was forced to eat a giant marshmallow. When I woke up, my pillow was gone.
Oh no! They didn’t laugh at that one. This is serious. I’ll try another.
A man asks a farmer near a field, “Sorry sir, would you mind if I crossed your field instead of going around it? You see, I have to catch the 4:23 train.” The farmer says, “Sure, go right ahead. And if my bull sees you, you’ll even catch the 4:11 one.”
Titters. Not laughs. No applause.
I tried to re-marry my ex-wife. But she figured out I was only after my money.
A few laughs. Scattered applause.
This is no good. I feel unwell. I look to the stage door, wanting to make an escape, but the boss is there, the man who hired me. I’m losing strength. My shape is going. I look down at my body. The suit jacket looks like it’s going to burst.
Huge applause. Lots of claps.
They think it’s part of the act. My jacket and pants are lying on the floor. The clapping is starting to stop. I hear a scream. Someone actually screamed. I look at my body. It’s yellow with brown spots – and it’s growing, growing and growing. Rounder and rounder.
I hear lots of screams now and people are falling over each other to get out of the building. And all the time I’m still growing. Two old people on the front row aren’t moving. They’re mesmerized, eyes agape. My body absorbs them.
I hear a siren. Now I feel better. I have more energy. I am getting into shape again. But I have no clothes. The boss is gone. I make for the stage door.
Out into the night. I’ll just have to try another town. They won’t come here again. It’ll be in their heads, what happened tonight. Another town is needed. Another place. Another interview. I’m in full shape now. Absorbing people is better than absorbing applause.
Next town. I’ll have them rolling in the aisles. I’ll slay them.