Bobby adjusted his tie and his wig, the heavily made-up face looked wearily back at him from the mirror; a mirror framed by bulbs, the majority long since blown.
He listened for the roar of the crowd as the unrealistically excited M.C. announced his name; “LAAAAADDDDIEEEESSS and GENTLEMAN – Now a REEEALLLL treat for you all! FRESH … ” (‘Fresh!’ thought Bobby, ‘it was 12 years ago’) ” … from starring… ” (‘starring! I was in most episodes’) “… in the HIT … (‘hit! Two series of six episodes each, and they only got second because the producer was sleeping with the Head of Production at the time’) “…T.V. show … HEEEERRRRRREEEEEE’SSSSSS the one, the only …. BOBBY SOCKS!!!”
No roar. A ripple, at best.
Deep breaths. Strong entrance:- Face contorted into joy – Jesus Christ how hard is that now – Bobby bounced on stage to face the crowd. He knew it was just a few old crones and some derelicts attracted by the warmth and ‘Free Matinee’ poster but he chose to stare directly into the lights and forget that fact. He had never suffered stage-fright in his life, the bigger the crowd the better. It was these sparse audiences that were much harder.
He started the old routine that had served him for years. It wasn’t that great even back then, when new, but now …. well everyone knew their role at least; he pretended to be funny and the public pretended to be amused.
‘Just get through this show,’ he thought to himself, ‘ and then…’ Then what? Another show tonight. And tomorrow, ever diminishing crowds, ever further down the bill until … until he finally fell off the bill completely as he received the gentle embrace of the ultimate curtain call.
“GO FUCK YOURSELF”; the scream of a crazed old down-and-out jolted him out of his on-stage reverie. He saw the twisted angry face right in front of the stage.
Bobby stopped. Bobby stared at the floor. Bobby stared at the lights. Bobby walked slowly over to the edge of the stage. Now, finally an air of expectation tingled in the room. The people await the witty rejoinder, maybe even something original and genuinely funny.
Bobby drew back his foot and carefully, firmly, decidedly kicked the old man clean in the teeth.