She was only thirteen years old and the club was full of people waiting to see the UK’s youngest stand up comic.
Oh by the way she didn’t actually die physically, it’s a comedy term for having a bad gig.
Ashley had been doing stand up since she was 11 years old and was actually really good. There were rave reviews in all the newspapers and she was feted by the press.
She played some of the biggest clubs in the UK and sometimes broke the law by just being in a bar that late at night.
My daughter was raised in a bar as we used to own one, so it was nothing for her to be amongst so many adults in a boozing house.
Anyway the night she died on stage was horrid for her.
The audience were already belligerent and I was the MC and to bring my own child to the stage was the worst feeling ever, it really was like throwing a small baby to the snarling lions.
There were lots of other comics there, all supporting her and willing her to do well. They was a great feeling of camaraderie when it came to Ashley as she could ad lib and free style like the best of them and to hear a 13 year old answer a heckler and beat him was just heavenly.
The audience went quiet as this wee girl with her long hair I bunches ran on stage, she opened with her first line and just a few people laughed.
Then the crowd started chatting and they lost interest. Now she had never had this before and we all knew it would happen one day and as a stand up comic and her mother my heart stopped as I watched her struggle to get their attention.
The one thing that made me proud was- she didn’t fall apart or let them see she was upset, if a crowd smells fear then they go for your throat, especially a tough Glasgow crowd.
Me and the other comics all sat rigid with anger and fear as that wee kid in the dungarees ran about the stage trying her best to get on with the show as drunks started to shout over her.
She eventually shouted “Stop talking and ignoring me, this is what makes teenagers commit suicide” and we all fell about laughing, she got the last word.
She placed the mic back in the stand, took a bow and walked off into my arms.
I had to run on and bring the next act on, my heart felt like it was melting I really wanted to stop the show and call them all bastards but I couldn’t.
You see my wee girl wanted to be a comic and sometimes the shit hits you and you have to be big enough to weather that storm, even if you are just 13 years old.
A tough but valuable lesson to learn.
When she came off stage all the other comics hugged her and welcomed her to the ‘Real Side of Comedy’
“You aint a real comic till you die up there baby” one of the guys said to her and they all cheered. She was one of them. Her age didn’t get her away with it and her talent for sticking with it shone through and that was to be admired.
She didn’t see it that way and was crushed.
She had to get up the next day and go to school knowing that she was booked again that night as the club ran over a weekend.
I offered to pull her off the bill if she felt that bad about it.
I know how hard it can be to die like that on stage, so I sympathised and gave her an out.
“No mum, I will honour the gig and go back onstage, but I am going to write new material and do a different show”
I advised against this saying she should work the new material in slowly, this is the advice I would give any new comic.
That night she stood at the side of the stage, her heart was in her mouth and I tentatively announced her name.
She came marching on stage and grabbed the mic and did a whole new 15 minute set. The entire show was punctuated with big laughs and rounds of applause.
I could her see her face light up and I watched her lap up every moment of the joy of being laughed at.
The crowd roared as she finished her set, she took a bow and walked off.
In the green room I ran up and hugged her saying “well done that was awesome”
She put on her coat, turned to me and said “Get daddy to take me home, that is the last time I do stand up, I just wanted to get back on and prove I could do it and now I have I am done with this, I am not doing stand up again, good luck mama” and walked out of the club.
She never did stand up again until she was nineteen years old.
I still recall the night she died with horror but with huge pride as well.
This coming month Ashley will be 21 years old, she is a wonderful comic writer and performer. Her sketches are a joy to watch and I proud that I got to see her grow up in comedy._