Opinion: Will Franken On Being An Uber Comic

Yesterday Will Franken, along with Grainne Maguire, Stephen Bailey, Trevor Lock, Lou Sanders and John Robertson, took part in an afternoon of comedy in cars supporting Uber's lift-sharing scheme called UberPOOL. Here Will Franken writes about his experience. 

 

I'm fortunate to have a lifestyle in which I can accept a gig riding around London in the back of a taxi, entertaining complete strangers. Today, I did just that as part of Uber's promotional campaign for their new Pool service. In the days leading up to this gig, I found my level of nerves considerably higher than usual. Why?

It was a daytime gig

It was a corporate gig. 

The gig was in a car. And – 

Despite my zany exterior, I'm actually one of those misanthropic curmudgeons who probably wouldn't enjoy sharing the back seat of a cab with a comedian. 

In other words – a comedian. 

Although my apprehensions were abated after telling a friend about this upcoming gig. “Good for you!” she enthused, “Uber's great! Fuck the big guys!” So noble had her oratory painted Uber that when I met driver Jack and Uber representative Becca this afternoon, I had already cast them as allies to small business entrepreneurship. And the small talk upon our departure seemed less obligatory than it might have seemed in the context of other corporate ventures – such as those involving the BBC

We soon received a pickup request near Battersea from a young plumber. As he approached the car, I informed Becca of my plan to launch into a random character. Sussing out his demeanour, I settled instantly into my sleazy Cockney. “'Ere, mate, you look like a geezer wot got his leg over last night,” I jibed. Upon discovering he was a plumber, I complained about “the toilet in me gaffe” and how “I made me birds squat outside rather than see me filthy porcelain”. When Becca finally let him in on the joke, he was well pleased and I rattled off many more “bits” throughout the brief journey to Vauxhall.  

Afterwards, we picked up a German couple near Piccadilly en route to Bond Street. As their door opened, I opted for the persona of a wide-eyed anorak, overly excited to be enjoying his first carpool. When they acknowledged they were a couple, I sulked, responding that I had hoped they weren't because my wife had left me the night before and I was in no mood to see couples.  

Our final passenger was a sullen, 20-year old student from the Midlands. When we arrived at King's Cross, driver Jack received bitter retorts over the phone in response to the request that the student meet him at another exit. When the young man slumped down, I turned to him, nodding towards Jack and whispering confidentially: “This guy's a nightmare, yeah? I get into Paddington. He's supposed to meet me there. Rings me. Wants me to come to fucking Euston!”

What a great day. I enjoyed the rarity of seeing a wide swath of London above ground, exercised my improvisatory character skills in the process, and left the experience with a hearty appreciation for the Uber business model. 

Will Franken is hosting a one-off mimicry workshop on February 21. Details here.

 

 

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