Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins at your mercy. So you had three comics harangue him in front of an audience.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have done grave things. Awful things. At age 17, I decided to save wear and tear on my legs by keeping an empty wine bottle as a midnight piss potty. I once drunkenly awoke in the night and accidentally used my then-girlfriend’s hair as a sick bag. And then there was the time I saw Ross Kemp in the street and found myself screaming ‘I LOVE YOU!’ But then we’ve all done that, right? No? Just me, then. So, you see, I’m not a man that you’d struggle to find dirt on. Thus, as I step into Dirty Dicks pub on Bishopsgate to be put ‘on trial’ by a bunch of comedians, I am a tad nervous. All I know is that I’ll be grilled in front of an audience of friends, with one comic acting as judge, one as my defence lawyer and one as prosecution. The organisers have been pumping my friends for evidence via Facebook, so while I have no idea what charge I am facing, I’m sure they’ll have me bang to rights.
Or maybe not. ‘This man is accused of being a bully!’ growls a bearded comic in black robes, as I’m forced to wear a ‘Guilty’ T-shirt and dragged onstage. Bizarre. I’m sucha pasty whelp I’d struggle to bullya kitten, ferchrisssakes. Then follows a line of questioning so flimsy it’s a piece of string away from being a viable kite. ‘Mr Duggins, is it true that
you idolise well-known meanie Jeremy Clarkson?’ ‘No,’ I offer. ‘It isn’t.’ ‘Oh.’
Clearly, it’s going to be easy to avoid being painted as a bully. Or so you’d think. But as an avowed machismo hater whose mind has been warped by an ill-advised ‘Spider-Man’ subscription, I’m genuinely upset at being called a bully. So what do I do? Why, regress into the surliest teen sulk possible, of course.
‘Mr Duggins, could you tell the jury where you work?’ ‘I could.’ ‘Well then?’ ‘Well what?’ ‘Are you refusing to answer the question?’ ‘I did answer the question: your grammar is just SHIT.’ It gets so combative that it stops being fun. In the front row, my friends watch from between fingers. When Time Out’s esteemed editor is called as a witness, he performs the not-so esteemed avoidance technique of squatting covertly in a corner until they stop calling him.
Eventually, the prosecution tells me that he can’t see why I’m so moody. My response: ‘Maybe you’d be able to see better if your idea of dressing as a lawyer didn’t involve those STUPID FAKE GLASSES!’ Then it’s verdict time, and something mental happens. The pub’s TVs flicker into life. And on screen is Ross Kemp grunting: ‘Alexi, I find you guilty!’
The audience chuckles, and I realize I’ve overreacted. No one really thinks I’m a bully. It’s just a bit of fun.
Or at least, it should have been.