My Big Gap Year. With Poppy Spalding


I was literally paralysed with grief when I learned that my comedy hero Leslie Neilson had passed on. So it was all I could do to leap off my bicycle before I did some serious damage and board a flight for NYC – birthplace of comedy and Richard Dreyfuss.

First things first, this place is way funnier than Friends. For example, I went to Central Park and saw a rabbi get shat on by a bird. Unlike Hitler, I did not will this to happen – it was just the way it got all caught up in his dangly bits: LOL!  I knew then that this was a sign from the grave by Leslie. He wanted me to seek out more laughs in the city that never sleeps so I decided to check out an ‘improv’ night at a comedy club in Manhattan.

I must say that by the time the night got going, I was in hysterics. There was this guy speaking about how he got so stoned last night that he thought al Qaeda had broken into his house and were trying to waterboard him. This was especially funny because the exact same thing happened to me when I was stoned. Except with me, it was the cast of Starlight Express who broke in and they kept trying to beast me with their roller-skates. Those train-faced pervs!

So when dudes in costumes actually burst in from the back of the club waving their guns about and yelling, I was laughing so hard that I accidentally farted and then fell off my chair. One of them came right up to me and shouted ‘ON THE FLOOR!’ which was genius because I already was on the floor. But then he dunted me right in the eyebrow with his gun, and I was like ‘Oof!’. That wasn’t so funny as there was actual blood and when the comedian ran off the stage screaming I slowly realised these guys were not props. Turns out they were proper robbers doing a hold up at the club. Pistolwhipped! They left without shooting anyone but when cops and ambulances arrived I had to face the likelihood that there would be no more hilarious performances. Gutted!

But I did get to go to New York Downtown Hospital (it’s a big building with patients!) in an ambulance and the guys even put the siren on for me – totally Third Watch! The irony is that I can’t laugh anymore as it just makes my stitches burst open. I saw a pigeon hovering over two nuns and I had to solemnly run away and sing Snow Patrol songs in my head until I was safe. I have learned the lesson that you use your eyebrows for basically everything in life and everyone should take time out this Christmas to offer thanks for them. And that is what makes NYC the greatest capital of the world in the world!