There I was, on Friday night, sitting on stage at the New Orleans Music Club in Budapest. As you do. It was the Final of the Finalists, the 31st and final round in the English-language speech slam that I’ve been presiding over since 2009. Five finalists had come together to see which one of them would take home the honours.
For those not familiar with the event, five competitors each give five-minute prepared speeches on a topic of their choice and then a three-minute impromptu on a topic chosen by the audience. For his impromptu, Rupert Slade drew me – yep – a slip of paper asking him to talk about me – Mary Murphy.
Now, I’m sure that had I not been in the room, he would have had little trouble meeting that goal. It’s easy enough to talk about anyone if they’re not there to contradict or take offence. But I was there and I wasn’t about to go anywhere.
As the audience waited for him to give up the dirt, I sat on stage wondering where he was going to go with it. Rupert knows me well enough to have some stories to tell and has a way about him that would make that telling very entertaining. And as he is not exactly backward about coming forward, I readied myself for public exposition – but it never came.
He talked about my losing weight – the equivalent of a piece of checked luggage on RyanAir. He talked about my blog and my thing about being grateful[so I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity]. He talked about my run-in with sheepdogs on my way to mass in Transylvania. And he talked of how I’d told him to invite his now wife out for a coffee after the GOTG final in 2012. [Apparently, I tell... ]. And he said nice stuff, too, about GOTG and the difference it has made to the orphanage. And he did all this in the most horrendous stage-Irish accent that was so bad it was funny.
And the audience was left wondering.
He didn’t slag me. He didn’t divulge the undivulgible. He left that to me.
When you’re doing anything even remotely humorous on stage, the best person to rag is yourself – you’re the only one who might take offence and you know your limits. I tell stories. About me. About my experiences. And occasionally about my mother. Most have enough truth in them to be credible. But the choice of what to divulge is mine.
Rupert could have gone with the easy option – but he didn’t. And for that, I’m truly grateful. Perhaps I’d be better than most at taking a public roasting but I’m glad that I wasn’t put to the test.