Originally not aired on ??/??/????
What is Christmas even about?
Is it about giving? Is it about eating? Is it about someone dying on Eastenders?
I’ve never really figured that out. When I was younger, Christmas was just about me getting the latest version of FIFA, so I could play online with my mate Josh Harris. He’d get the game in October when it came out, which was annoying. I’d have to go round his house to play, and he was a terrible host. He’d always say, “Do you want a cup of tea, mate?” and I’d say, “Yes, please,” then he’d say “Cool story, bro” and not make me one. Looking back, it was just his way of getting me riled up before we played. And it worked. I’d be more rattled than a pair of maracas during a music lesson at a poorly-funded primary school.
Then Christmas Day came around and I’d get my own copy of the game, and I’d be as happy as Larry (Larry is another mate of mine, who also had to wait until Christmas to get FIFA). I’d sit there marvelling at the TV screen, as players moved around slightly more realistically than they did in the previous year’s version. It was great.
But now I’m grown up, FIFA doesn’t mean as much to me. Life had clarity when I was a kid; now it seems like the world is constantly changing and it’s confusing and scary. As each year passes, the person I thought I was changes. FIFA might become more realistic each year, but my goals and ambitions seem to become more unrealistic.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché story: boy grows up, enters the real world, starts an unrecorded podcast, feels lost. But it’s just how I feel; and if I can’t express how I feel on my own unrecorded podcast, then where can I express it?
One person who knows all about expressing herself is today’s guest on Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Chai Lattes, Tal Davies. With a joke about how her face looks like a potato, Tal is one of the most exciting new comedians on the Midlands circuit. Having only started doing comedy in April, she has already worked her way onto some extremely low-level pro gigs and her rapid development has taken everyone by surprise. The last time she burst onto a scene this spectacularly was during her primary school Nativity, when she interrupted the birth of Jesus to ask Mary if she had any swaps for the Pokemon Charizard.
“I was playing Balthazar, the Wise Man,” Tal said, explaining the incident, “and I was trying to get Pikachu off of King Herod and basically he wanted Charizard and it was a bit of a mess.”
“Did Mary have Charizard?”
“Yeah, but she wouldn’t give him to me,” she said. “I think she was still pretty pissed off about the myrhh, to be honest.
20 years after that Nativity, at the age of 28, Tal took to the stage again.
“What made you start doing comedy?” I asked.
“The memory of that Nativity, funnily enough.”
“Explain…” I said, not finding her response funny enough OR informative enough.
“Well, I’ve never really felt like I’ve been centre-stage in life. I had a minor role in the Nativity, but I also had a minor role in friendship groups and jobs. Instead of being the hero of my own story, I’ve spent my life feeling like I’m playing a supporting role in the lives of others. I was always someone on the side-lines.”
I could see where she was coming from. Even in this podcast she hasn’t been the main focus. A large section at the start was devoted to FIFA. That’s gotta hurt. She continued:
“But then, one day, about a year ago, I had a flashback to the Nativity. I remembered what it felt like when I stumbled on midway through Mary’s labour. Everyone looking at me. I wasn’t as invisible as I’d imagined. I felt alive.”
“But weren’t they looking at you for the wrong reasons? You were ruining it.”
“It doesn’t matter. It was just that feeling of being noticed. I started doing comedy to get that feeling back, and it’s worked. Even if it doesn’t go well, I’m still so happy that I’m not on the side-lines anymore.”
She seemed so sincere. She was opening up like a box of Lynx Africa on Christmas Day. But much like a Lynx Africa set, I’m not sure if I really appreciated it. I was still thinking about how lost I was in life, how every day I feel more scared about the future. But then she said something else:
“We’re lucky, you know, Eric.”
“We’re lucky? How?”
“Because we have a passion,” she said. “And it guides us. No matter how confusing life is, anyone who has a passion always has a direction. That passion is like the star in the Nativity, we’ve just gotta follow it.”
“Wow, you’ve really taken a lot from this Nativity story, Tal.”
I dunno how it happened, but Tal was starting to take centre-stage. Somehow the tables had turned in this interview, both metaphorically and literally.
“Where do we follow it to?” I said, as I finished rotating the table. “Where’s it taking us?”
“Somewhere very special. That’s what I believe.”
“And what do we do when we get there?”
“Just enjoy it. And make sure you don’t offer anyone myrhh.”
I laughed. I took one last sip of my latte and felt inspired to go back out into the world. To follow my star. I got up from my seat and shook Tal’s hand.
“You’re a wise man, Tal Davies.”
“Thank you, Eric.”
Tune in next time!