Tuesday, 12 July 2011

When you forget to consider your audience...

Disclaimer: The post that follows is fictitious, and any similarity with real events or people is merely coincidental. The views presented are not necessarily shared by the writer, but have been imagined so that the piece can achieve its purpose in the most effective way.

It’s a Friday night in Blackpool, and a tucked away coffee shop is full. Poetry is everyone’s reason for being there – for braving the stormy conditions that ride in on the Irish Sea, and rattle every hoarding in the seaside town.

It’s about halfway through the evening when a man (who’s never been before) is invited up to read.

Host: Our next reader is...

The host looks puzzled (as if he’s just been asked what (304 × 105) ÷ 12 equals), he scans the running order then stares at it. But the calculation, rather than becoming simpler, becomes more challenging.

Host: ...Please welcome Gandalf to the microphone

Hands clap. Necks stretch as a man in a purple velvet suit and matching hat weaves through the audience.

Gandalf: Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. Appreciation when I’ve done nothin’. Like the dude over there said...

He points his finger and waves it like he’s about to cast a spell.

Gandalf: ...I’m Gandalf. Well, not really, but it sounds better than John. So yeah, don’t live here anymore – thank God – just visitin’ a poor sod that does.
Wrote this poem this mornin’ on the train and thought I’d read it. Don’t know what all the fuss is about, people always complainin’ that poetry is difficult. Rubbish. Piece of piss, if you ask me.

At this point, sets of eyes begin to glaze over – like parasitic symbionts have just crawled inside the audience’s ears and implanted themselves within the frontal lobe of everyone’s brains. John (aka Gandalf) fails to notice that he’s not only losing the audience, but also offending them.

Gandalf: Yeah, so bein’ in Blackpool and all, I thought I’d write about Blackpool. Not hard to come up with ideas really, is it? Even the title was easy to come up with - just came straight to me. Like I was bein’ charged by a divine force, or somethin’. So yeah, it’s called Blackpool...

The audience begins to fidget uncomfortably in their seats. A few people turn to those sitting next to them and whisper, ‘This is going to be bad’.

Gandalf: You’re Tracey Emin’s pop-tent,
absolutely shite.
You’re full of sluts with STDs
and pissed up stags at night.

The host, who seconds earlier had taken a sip from his Americano, splutters out coffee and proceeds to choke. But John (aka Gandalf) continues undeterred, speaking his lines with the same ease as which David Cameron spins a lie.

Gandalf: You’re week-old Chinese takeaway,
better in the bin.
If London’s streets are paved in gold
then yours are lined with tin.

The normally placid audience begins to slowly revolt, fists bang on tables and a chorus of ‘OFF, OFF, OFF’ attempts to drown out the slanderous verse. However, John (aka Gandalf) chooses to ignore the audience’s request and merely increases the volume at which he’s speaking.

Gandalf: You’re Tesco Value lemonade,
cheap but lacking fizz.
You’re certainly the weakest link
in every T.V. quiz.

The coffee shop becomes like the inside of a theatre at Christmas – filled with boos and hisses.

Gandalf: You’re the ‘crap’ in every scrapheap;
a town of utter hell.
You’re the tacky Poundland reject
that no bugger can sell.

Before John (aka Gandalf) has even finished reading his poem, the host leaps from his seat and grabs the microphone.

Host: Err. Thanks Gandalf, but I’ll take it from here...

The audience cheers.

* * * * *

RULE ONE (to being a good poet or performer): ALWAYS remember to consider your reader/audience.

Thank you for reading.



Ashley R Lister said...

If Gandalf did write that well, I don't think there would be many complaints.

Wizard post - :-)


Lara Clayton said...

I'm glad you liked it. I was a little worried of writing in a style that is outside of my comfort zone.
I did fear that I might be replaced as the Tuesday blogger...
Note to self: Worry a little bit less.

Ste said...

So Lara, are you putting that poem forward for the 'Poet's Guide to Blackpool'? :D

Lara Clayton said...

Ste, you've ruined the surprise :)

vicky ellis said...

:D You can turn your hand to anything can't you? I agree that it's generally a bad idea to insult your audience however I'd like to be present at this event; it sounds like it's going to be interesting.

Lindsay said...

Sorry for the late reply, internet explorer has been stopping me from posting messages on here dammit :(

I love this, haaaa hilarious and witty and well written. Why were you worried? If anyone gets banned I've bagsied that one first.