For the best stand-ups, go to shul
ON YOM Kippur I made my first visit to synagogue since my daughter’s batmitzvah in March, when, just before commencing the service, the rabbi announced “No recording equipment of any kind is allowed.”
E verything was going without a hitch, until I stood up with the rest of the congregation, and the silver cassette recorder (about the size of a 1lb packet of Tate and Lyle granulated sugar), with a 10in-long microphone attached, that I’d hidden under my chair, got entangled in my tallis and dangled there by my knee about a foot off the ground.
The rabbi was standing directly facing me; he had to have seen it, but if he did, he didn’t show it — not even a flicker. He’d make a great poker player, I thought.
So to be on the safe side, I thought it best to avoid him… today of all days.
When I arrived at the shul, a couple of young guys in dark suits were on duty outside the door.
“Good morning.” I said to one of them, a lanky young man in glasses. He looked vaguely familiar.
He looked at me. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I know you! You’re the guy who walked out of my stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year! You walked out, right in the middle of my act!” I looked at him again.. It was him! In August 2008 I’d gone to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and one night I’d gone to see a young Jewish stand-up comedian. I can’t sit down for stand-up, I’m a fidget, it was a hot, packed room — think the size of a very large matchbox.
The comedian was a funny guy, and the audience loved him, but after about 20 minutes I was so fidgety and sweaty that during one of the applauses, I made a run for the exit — but he spotted me. “I’ve got to go!” I said, diving through the door.
As I did, I heard him make a remark that suggested I was lacking in the sense of humour department.
I stopped, and re opened the door.
“I’ve got a dinner reservation!” I shouted to the audience.
And now, here he was again, standing between me and the door of the shul on Yom Kippur.
I mean, what are the odds of that happening?
It was unbelievable! And the crazy thing was that over a year later he was still upset.
I edged towards the door; he stepped in front of me.
“How can you remember that it was me that walked out of your show!?” I said.
“I remember you, it still hurts.” he said.
“Look, I’m really, really sorry I walked out. My daughter was arriving at the train station. I had to go and meet her for dinner. We had a reservation! You were very funny.” “Really?” He said. “Yes really. Very funny,” I said. “Can I come in now ? “No.” “What do you mean ‘no!’? Don’t you know what today is? Yom Kippur! It’s the Day of Atonement! And here I am now, personally atoning to you for walking out of your show — come on! You’ve got to admit my timing’s good!”
Just at that moment, the door opened — it was my daughter, Lily. “Dad what are you doing? Are you coming in? The service is just about to start.”
I looked at him... he looked at me. Reluctantly he held the door open.
“Ok,” he said, “but just make sure you stay to the end.”