“I HEARD he went loopy and started driving a van.”
I was told that’s what a fellow comic said about me when I walked away from comedy during a particularly rough personal year. Put simply, I had incorrectly thrown the blame for that bad year at comedy’s feet, turned my back on it, and began driving a van for an animal charity.
As far as I was concerned, I had identified a problem and sorted it out when, what I had actually done, was violently lash out at the nearest thing and made it fall out with me.
Those words, though, didn’t exactly leave me once I’d heard them. I dismissed them, obviously. I wasn’t loopy, I was having a whale of a time lugging sofas about single-handedly in the blazing sun. What 9st 30-year-old wouldn’t?
In fact, it was while manhandling a cumbersome settee that I realised what was actually going on. How I had held comedy responsible for my sadness, rather than the collapse of my marriage and the accompanying upheaval, about which I had simply repeated to myself, “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
Were it possible to pre-order your epiphanies, cart-wheeling a three-seater faux leather beast uphill along a residential street, was not what I would have requested.
Sweating buckets and using what little strength I had to keep the furniture from tumbling into the Toyota parked in front of my van wasn’t amusing either, yet for some reason I burst out laughing.
It wasn’t that I found the act of suppressing everything that had been getting on top of me and burying it away pretending to be completely fine hilarious, more that I was amused by my not knowing that was what I had been doing.
So as not to write off a car by dropping a sofa on it, like the puniest Hulk imaginable, I’d stopped moving to laugh my head off, inviting a perplexed look from a passing dog walker. Of course, to them it looked fairly obvious what had happened, as it had to everyone else.
I had gone loopy and started driving a van.
Chris Stokes: Altruism In Birds, Pleasance Courtyard, until August 30, 10.45pm, £7.50-£9.50, 0131-226 0000