The comedy anarchist deflowers Tammy Moore's e-reader
It's Friday afternoon at the Black Box and Andrew Maxwell has just arrived on stage. I'm in the front row, they turn the lights off and for the life of me I can't find my pen in the bottom of my bag. Notebook I've got, but nothing to write with.
On stage Maxwell - acerbic, no-holds-barred comedian - has just started to rip into Iris Robinson. '19! It's either a full Union Jack or at half-mast.' There's nothing else for it. I'm going to have to take notes on my e-reader. (Yes, I know. Yes, I am.) Maybe he won't notice?
Initially I get away with it, as Maxwell's routine - always vituperative, always hysterical - veers from how he hates people from Tyrone ('bloody hill-savages') to how he was once 'fingered by a Republican on New Years Day in the Swiss Alps.' (He never gets around to explaining how that happened.) Dublin's full of swingers clubs, or so men in Belfast tell him, and he once made a disabled guy cry.
'Do we want to know the story?'
Of course we do. My gran always said I'd laugh at a bad thing. Clearly, so will everyone else in the Black Box on a Friday lunchtime. It's part of how Maxwell works as a comedian. Not all his jokes are close to the bone, some of the funniest aren't, like his bit on how no-one ever made a film about Helen's Bay during the Troubles - 'Daddy, Daddy, the IRA's got our Boris'. But once he's made us laugh at a joke about Iris Robinson 'turning a pouf', Maxwell knows he has the audience for the duration. We're collaborators.
Back to the disabled guy and my e-reader. Maxwell wanders over the stage in my direction. 'So, I'm in Clonmel and there's this guy in the front row taping my gig on his phone. So I....here, I'll show you.' He leans down. 'Give me that would you?' I mutter an unconvincing no, but despite Maxwell's claims about how wrong it is that the EU doesn't understand that for Ireland no means no, he isn't giving up. 'C'mon,' he says. 'I promise I won't f**k it.'
By now everyone is looking at me, people are texting their friends and the pressure is too much. I surrender the e-reader. 'So I snatch his phone,' Maxwell continues. He sticks my shiny new gadget down the front of his jeans and poses for the audience. My e-reader! What did it ever do other than store the occasional embarrassing romance novel to deserve this? After a minute that is forever etched in my e-reader's digital memory card, Maxwell pulls it out and gives it back.
'Sorry,' he says. 'I did wash, but it's the lights in here.'
If you want to know the rest of the story about the disabled guy that Maxwell made cry, then go see him the next time he performs near you. Just don't sit in the front row. Or let him put anything down his pants.