A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: The Drunk Switch

Originally published: 27 September 2004

A couple of months ago one of my best mates and a comedy writing partner since our days at drama school together asked me to direct a one-man comedy show he'd written.

I haven't set foot in a theatre in almost a decade and the last show I directed was my own - a musical in 1994.

I use the term "direct" loosely since all I really had to do was ensure that he didn't bump into anything, but it provided a good break from the intensity of running this website for two years.

The show - called Duncan Farenheit's Acoustic Jam Sandwich - opened on Saturday night at the Intimate Theatre on UCT's Orange Street drama campus - the very place I entered 13 years ago to begin what I believed would be a lasting, successful theatre career.

Ah - the sweet, innocent dreams of youth.

At least I'm not an embittered theatre queen 30 years down the line, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The show is about an hour in length and after it a band - Stevevan - plays a couple of sets in the same space the show takes place in. We open the bar 45 minutes before the show starts in an attempt to get the audience as pissed as possible, because it's the sort of show that lends itself to uncouth drunken swines behaving badly.

Straight after the show the bar opens again and 20 minutes after that the band begins playing, and on opening night pretty much the entire audience stayed.

When that sort of thing happens - and after the nerves of an opening night - one tends to go apeshit on the lager. Saturday night was no different.

At some point of the evening Steve Van himself was plying me with tequila in between my steady stream of Black Labels, and to say that I got absolutely arse-faced would be a generous understatement.

Despite it all Tashi and I managed to drive through to Rondebosch for a late-night pizza which we took home with us, and after eating it we hauled out a video and sat down to watch.

I was in that state of not feeling particularly drunk but knowing I was and watching the movie was a breeze at first. It was about some television producer in the 1960s who led a double life as a CIA assassin and I started finding the whole premise - a true-life story - a bit bizarre.

The lead actor had weird teeth which jutted too far forward and about midway through the movie his teeth started becoming too much. George Clooney was playing the role of a stern CIA scout who egged his assassin on and he had on a dark beard and moustache and a hat and coat and he looked weird as well.

The teeth and George Clooney started weaving into one and I must have nodded off slightly, because the next thing I sat up straight and emitted a huge sigh. In that sigh was the weight of excess suddenly making itself felt and I realised the drunk switch had happened.


That moment - that indescribably awful moment when all the toxins imbibed over the course of an evening have given the lining of the stomach a serious working over while sending out armies of nasties to the furthest reaches of the body.

That moment when you realise - through a fog of instant and overwhelming nausea - that you've turned over into Death Mode and the whole once-pleasant facade of civility comes crashing down, exposing you for the worthless drunk you are.

I'm not talking about having to go hurl your lungs out - just that moment of insanely drunk sick which lets you know you've gone too far and recovery is a long, long time away.

I headed straight for bed - no deviation to the left nor right - and collapsed on it, moaning faintly in general decrepitness. I felt the hangover beginning as I lay down and the headache kicked in, but even worse was the knowledge that I had not brushed my teeth and I was going to have to go and do it.

No matter what the situation - I cannot go to sleep with an unwashed mouth.

I managed to get up and made it to the bathroom and stood moaning consistently low as I frantically dug the last remnants of mozzarella cheese and bacon out of my molars.

I made it back to bed and the throbbing in my temples increased. The Room Spin began and I upped my general moaning a notch or two, but despite the attempts of my dog to revive me there was nothing anybody could do.

But moaning is important - you can get lost in the impressiveness of your moan and forget about the sickness for awhile.

And then - sleep. It came upon me rapidly and unexpectedly, mercifully ending the nightmare.

The moral of the story? There isn't one. I don't have morals. But I did learn something valuable, which I felt you ought to know: a combination of tequila, beer, pizza, nerves, lack of sleep, George Clooney in a fedora and buck teeth at 3am should not be attempted by those wishing to avoid a whole world of sick.

Add images of Audrey Hepburn spinning on a hill and a lump of fatty pork in an ashtray and you're headed down the highway to hell.

If you get there - send my regards to Lucifer. Remind him he owes me a box of smokes.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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