Do you know Simon Taylor? You should, but granted, by the comedian’s own admission, he doesn’t really know himself.
He’s played this into his debut novel, 'One-Night Stand'. “Not knowing how you’ll act in a certain situation is a big part to growing,” Simon says. “So the novel, is about a young comedian named Ben, who’s. . . Pretty much a pseudonym of me and the experience I had.”
“He has a fleeting romantic encounter and is told he’s going to be a father!”
“I went through something similar, confronted with this idea of ‘Oh, I thought I was pursuing my career. But if I want to do that, I’ve got to give up on stand-up’. The character in the book has more complications.”
There are, of course, comedic elements to this semi-biographical work of fiction. “There are jokes on every page,” Simon says. “It’s about how ridiculous the main character is. The jokes come from his incompetence more than anything else.”
Going from stage to page, as Simon so excellently puts it, wasn’t an issue or an alien concept, because he’s never actually scripted any of his stand-up shows. “It’s pretty common, I think, among comedians, to try a little bit of material for five or ten minutes of ideas, a topic in their notepad saying, ‘putting the washing out’ or ‘got a new dog’, and then they’ll work it out on stage. And then if it works, you don’t forget it!”
“Then you try another five or ten minutes out, then another five or ten minutes, then eventually all the best stuff is the stuff you remember, because you’re not going to forget stuff you get a laugh for!
“It’s not how everyone does it, but it’s not an uncommon [thing] to learn it through muscle memory.”
With that being said and switching back from page to stage, Simon has a show at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights coming up, 'The Best of Everything He’s Ever Done Ever', as part of Adelaide Fringe. So, if Simon has spent the last decade of his career using muscle memory and performing off the cuff, how will he now go and perform things once more that he’s never documented in the written word? “What’s lucky is that the audience and my fans have written this show for me,” he says.
“So, when I run into someone in the street and they say ‘I love that bit you do about Australian accents’, or someone will say, ‘You haven’t done that Melbourne shuffle in a while’, really this is made up of all the routines people love and remember.
“Is it lazy? Kind of! Or is it giving the people what they want? I’ll let you decide!”
But of course, depending on his mood, depending on the dynamic of the audience in attendance, there is still scope for some adlib, the unpredictability of which Simon agrees will surely keep him on his toes. “If someone yells out a routine they like, you know what? I’m going to do it!”
“I’m certainly going to come prepared to give them a best-of show. But there’s always some wiggle room if we can find a little more magic on the night.”
Simon Taylor plays The Spiegeltent at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights (Adelaide Fringe) 1-6 March.