Advent calendar 19: Melancholy Santa

On the nineteenth day of Christmas,
The Bakery gave to me:
Santa having a breakdown

Earlier this month, Oxford was host to another of its top-notch No Reading Alone events. As with the first three events, organiser Ewan was kind enough to request a contribution from The Bakery. This time, though, I decided to experiment with something a little different.

I wanted to devise a monologue which was too bizarre to be a straight dramatic piece, but which was too straight to be called stand-up. Hopefully, the audience would be confused as to whether to look for gags or worry about my state of mind. Judging from the slightly disturbed faces that stared back at me, I think it was a successful experiment.

After the performance, a chap came up to me and said “I have no idea what that was, but I really enjoyed it.” This was pretty much precisely the response I was hoping for, and the best feedback I could have wanted.

Below is an audio recording of my 10 minute performance. I don’t think it works quite as well when you can’t see me, because some of the amusing/disturbing nature came from the contrast between my sincere delivery and my unkempt Santa costume. So for that reason, I would like to ask you to browse through the photos while you listen to the piece, and animate them in your mind.

I hope you enjoy this experimental oddity. It helps if you have a familiarity with Wham lyrics…

[audio: https://bakery.s3.amazonaws.com/Advent%20calendar/nra4-melancholy-santa.mp3]


In case you’re wondering what produces the enthusiastic laugh which caps off the monologue, I was holding a limp Christmas cracker throughout, which I drew particular attention to whilst saying how the “answer is often right in front of you.” I then silently gestured to an audience member to pull the cracker.

The audience member pulls and wins. Leaving me to look devastated at my pathetic tiny vestige of cracker-end, while the audience laugh at my festive misfortune.

Big thanks to Ewan, also to Anna Fowler for taking the great snaps above.

4 Comments

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  1. I would consider this a successful experiment indeed!

    I very much enjoyed this. I think you make a very fetching santa! Shame there was no video to go with it.

    I did find myself getting angry at my computer though – as you instructed I went on a browse of the photos which of course stops the audio?! I did this maybe 3 times…perhaps a pop-out audio player should be made #AlaricKingShouldDoThis 😀

    • Cheers, Flex, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      You’re quite right about the photos stopping the audio. Sorry! I mistakenly thought the gallery snippet magnified the images. I’m not clever enough to know if there’s a way to get it to open the images in a new tab, without affecting the audio…

      But thanks for following my instructions 🙂

      I have to confess, it is entirely my fault there is no video of this performance. Dan Fryer was present (as you can hear) and he ambushed me with a video camera.

      I was worried that the distraction of a video camera might make the audience slightly self-aware. On top of which, I felt very nervous and started to worry my performance was going to be a disaster that I didn’t want on camera!

      This recording would be useless to new listeners without Anna’s photos, so I am grateful to her and apologetic to Mr Fryer.

      Can I make it up to you all by tentatively proposing that next time I do something similar, I allow Dan to film. It was the nerves talking!

  2. Geodaddi

    Pleased that this has been preserved for the benefit of those who couldn’t make the Oxford Gig. PS was Santa “driving home for Christmas” before the crash?

    • I suppose he must have been, yes. Or else lots of little children would have been without presents that year, strewn as they would have been across my garden.

      Plus points to Geodaddi for being topical and getting a song lyric into his comment.

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