Marber’s ‘The Ice Cream Man’

Many years ago (’91-’92?), I recorded a some comedy and music benefit gig off the telly. I think it was hosted by Jools “Be there or be ungroovy fuckers” Holland, at the Hackney Empire. It was a benefit for AIDS research or something, and it was very funny. I watched and rewatched it, and one of the acts which stuck in my head to an extreme degree was this parody of a “Jazz Man” in a plaid suit whom I now realise (or at least think) was Patrick Marber, in his early stand-up days before The Day Today and playwright success.

In fact it stuck in my head to such an extent that I still find myself running through some of the text in my head, complete with probably-now-inaccurate recollections of the words, actions, and look of the piece.

I’ve searched online for clips or even mentions, with no immediate luck. So just to get it out of my head, here is what I recall. Maybe it will pull some searches in, like that matters.

Curtain up.

Marber enters the stage, and approaches the microphone. He is wearing a garish plaid suit and a newsboy cap. He walks to the microphone and mutters distractedly into it as if to say, “Yeah I’m here”. He then launches into a rhyming comic beat poem/monologue about being a jazz musician and how to be cool. (The following parts may be out of order, wrong, and all that stuff. Soz.)]

He says something about going into the lavatory before the performance to have a …

“… think about what to say and play.
And as I completed my little wazz,
It occurred to me I’d play you some Jazz.”

“It was the dude Oscar Wilde who used to say
That, ‘a wag about town should face every day
With one pair of briefs,
And three handkerchiefs.’
“Saying, ‘One just for show, (indicates silk square in breast pocket)
One in which to blow, (indicates regular handkerchief in inside pocket)
And one final hankie, (shows unpleasantly congealed tissue)
To mop up the winky-wanky.’
The wit of Oscar Wilde.”

“If you wanna play jazz you gotta wear a suit,
Don’t buy your suit
From a car boot sale,
Or from Anthony Quayle,
Crystal Gayle,
Brian the Snail,
Or Burtons.”

“If you want to play jazz you’ve got to have a slick name,
Not a Tom, Harry or Dick name.
Be cool! That’s the word.
Be like Charlie Parker – they called him ‘Bird’.
Be like Dizzy Gillespie – they called him… ‘Dizzy’.
George Mellie – ‘Fat Pus-bucket’.”

He then talks about how cool he is, and when you see him play his horn…

“…y’all gonna see why I am
The Ice Cream Man.”

He pulls out a small brightly colored plastic toy trumpet. The audience laughs.

“Do not mock the horn of The Ice Cream Man! Or should I say, the cornet?”

He plays the toy trumpet, by pressing the button things along the top. The toy trumpet makes a little bell “ting” sound each time a button is pressed. His cheeks-puffed playing style makes him sweat. He reaches into his pocket, and mops his forehead with a handkerchief, before realizing with disgust that he is using the congealed toss-rag revealed earlier.

He goes back to playing the trumpet, and completes the little bell tune that it plays. He bows and exits.

Curtain down.

Now I’m pretty certain there was a lot more to it than that. But that’s all that I can remember, which you may think is already too much. Still, it’s out there now. Marber, if you’re listening, please tell me I didn’t make this up.