Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Balloon Debate

A wee archive curio this week; I spent most of my twenties working as a "trainer", it's a good time to be a trainer, you're generally still optimistic, enthusiastic and young enough not to realise that no one at your training sessions really cares what you say because they are largely going to just keep doing things the way they've been doing them. My career in training was actually not unlike my parallel foray into stand-up comedy; ultimately you stand in a room full of people (some of them drunk) who are waiting to be impressed, and you try your hardest to make them like you enough to keep listening. To further underline this connection, flipcharts featured heavily in the stand-up material. Not fun to carry home on the last train from Glasgow.

One of my favourite training games, was "The Balloon Debate"; you will doubtless have been forced to play this or a variant at some point in your life. In a life or death situation, you must debate and ultimately decide who gets to live or die from a selection of famous characters trapped in a hot air balloon falling rapidly to earth - losers are pushed over the edge for the greater good - great for bringing old work grudges, values and morality out to the fore, exactly where people don't like them. It's a right laugh. As part of a show we were writing for at the time, my comedy partner Ray and I prepared this sketch. Amazingly, it was never used. I like to think it has as much to say now as it did then, which is to say, not much...just to be clear, it was not written as any kind of commentary on Scottish independence, but I remember someone reading it that way at the time. Not really sure what the message is there..

(WARNING - we were young when we wrote this and so still thought swearing was big and clever)

BURNS, DAVID BOWIE, RUSS ABBOTT, OOR WULLIE and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS are in a Balloon plummeting ever downwards...

RABBIE : Right. Here's the stat. We've ditched Michelle Mone, him oota Runrig, and frankly that big green monster wis takin' up a lot of room. But we're still fallin' fast. What de ye think Davy?

DAVID : To be honest Robert, I'm still not very sure what I'm doing here.

RABBIE : Davy...get this intae yer thin white heid, we're plummeting oot o the sky in a fucking big balloon.

DAVID : Ah. It's the classic "balloon debate".

RABBIE : It's no really been much 'o a classic Davy, we've really jist been howkin' folk we don't like ower the edge.

DAVID : Yes I...I was sorry to lose Annie Lennox like that.

RABBIE : We all were Davy, but it's a survival situation, and we need tae think quick. Which is why I'm thinkin' [nudges DAVID and points to MARY in a none too subtle fashion]

MARY : For fucks sake Rabbie. Would ye just stop throwing folk out of the balloon and think for a minute. And I have to say I have real issues with the fact that I'm now the only woman in this metaphorical balloon. I mean, what about Kirsty Young? Or Clare Grogan?

RABBIE: Aye. Well, thank yer lucky stars hen. Cause if either wan o' them wis here, your arse would be oot this basket quicker than you could say boo.

MARY: I can't believe we chucked Irvine Welsh and hung onto you.

RABBIE : Nobody pushed Irvine Welsh Mary, he jist fell oot. Dancin'. [mimes some dancing. Looks at the still silent OOR WULLIE and pushes him] Wullie! Wullie come on snap oot o it. There wis jist nae way we could hing ontae Boab.

MARY : [comforting hand on WULLIE's shoulder] He was too fat.

WULLIE : [head in hands, shaking head] Jings.

RUSS : [Coughs to get everyone's attention, then does his famous 'scots' accent, complete with 'see you jimmy' hair and bunnet]

RABBIE [pointing angrily] Wan mair stunt like that Abbot and you are oot! Yer only still here 'cos ah like yer daft fuckin' bunnet.

DAVID : I think I've thought up a Haiku about this.

WULLIE : Crivvens.

MARY : [comforting once more] I know Wullie. I know.

MARY : Well why shouldn't we just get rid of you Rab? Surely you're just an overated twat in a big shirt rebranded for largely marketing and tourist purposes.

RABBIE : Oh aye? Well is there a Castle in this whole country you didnae hide in at some point? Ye fart in Peebles and suddenly they're selling "Mary Queen of Scots" fudge in the gift shop...

DAVID: "Basket plummets, air flows free, balloon is tartan and my shirt is white."

RABBIE : If I were you Davy, I'd watch it, because if she chucks me oot, ye'll no be far behind, because quite frankly, you are hingin' right oot me at the minute.

DAVID : What if we...fix the balloon?

RABBIE : Oh bravo Ziggy! I'll jist brek oot the massive metaphorical tartan balloon puncture repair kit shall I?

WULLIE : Help ma boab.

RABBIE : Wullie will ye jist FUCK UP! We're tryin' tae figure a way ootae this nightmare.

WULLIE : Hing on! What if...I stuck this piece o chewing gum oan the end o a stick?

MARY : Wullie...

WULLIE : Either that, or something wi shoe polish. That usually does the trick. "Certain death in a big balloon is near, but our hero will fix it, have nae -"

[MARY walks over and kicks him out of the balloon. "Jings" echoes into the distance]

MARY : I've just had a look down, and in a bitter but predictable irony, this big tartan balloon's going to plummet right into a Kaleyard.

DAVID : What exactly is a Kaleyard?

RABBIE : It's aw jaggy Davy. Utter murder.

DAVID: I think there's a concept album in this.

MARY: Really.

DAVID: Yeah, I could call it 'hot air.'

RABBIE: Nae fuckin' change there then. Ho Davey! There's a couple of spiders on your jaicket there...

DAVID: [panicking] Where? Where are the spiders?

[The rest of them giggle mischeviously]

RABBIE: Sorry man. Ah've always wanted tae dae that. Tell ye what, how aboot a singalong...

[The Balloon continues to fall as RABBIE breaks into "Why does it always rain on me?"]