ECT #2: “Have your test results come back yet?”
This one works best in a large group of people. Wait for a lull in the conversation, preferably with minimal background noise, and then deploy the ECT at an indiscreet volume to someone sitting near you. With a bit of luck the atmosphere will instantly shift to the setting marked “ball-shrivellingly awkward”. Your subject should then reply with a nervous smile and something along the lines of “What test results?” At this point, glance around the rest of the group and then suddenly, as if you’ve just caught someone else’s eye, look down and mutter, “Oh God, sorry, it was… someone else…”
Honestly, it’ll keep them going for ages. When you’ve had your fun, do the standard mime for Suddenly Remembering Something and reveal that it was your dad’s MOT you were thinking of.
Smallprint: be aware that this ECT can backfire badly if your initial subject has in fact just got some test results back. If they respond with something like “Yes, I’ve got 3 months” you may want to bail out at the earliest opportunity.
More ECTs here.
I often find it helps to have a couple of Emergency Conversation Topics handy for when you hit one of those embarrassing silences amongst a group of friends. ECTs can either be memorised or if, like me, you’re a bit forgetful, you can write them down on a small piece of paper which you keep in your pocket. If you go for the latter I recommend a bit of practice in front of a mirror on your cribbing technique. For example, I usually sneak it out under the table with my right hand whilst exaggeratedly checking my watch with the left – that kind of thing. (Paul Daniels refers to this practice as “palming” – not to be confused with Debbie McGee’s practice of palming, which is something else.)
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the first ECT:
ECT #1: Isn’t that Gordon Burns off The Krypton Factor?
This one’s a cracker – completely fail safe, as you will see. It’s based around a few basic premises:
- Gordon Burns could be in any place at any time.
- The majority of middle-aged men are easily mistaken for Gordon Burns.
- Everyone loved the Krypton Factor.
Just combine any of those facts and I’m sure you can already begin to see what a great ECT this is. Ignoring for now the possibility that you really have just spotted Gordon Burns, in which case all ECTs are unnecessary, you simply have to point at any middle-aged man with his back to you and away you go. Everyone will turn to look, at which point one of two things will happen:
- The man will keep his back turned while you enjoy a prolonged “is he/isn’t he?” type debate.
- The man turns towards you in which case you follow up with, “Oh… no.. he just.. you know… from a certain angle… hey, the Krypton Factor though? Whatever happened to that?”
This will then get everyone talking about their favourite sequences in the Krypton Factor (The zip wire? The giant shape puzzles? The general knowledge round? etc.). If you’re in the Manchester/Liverpool area you might also try reminiscing on memorable episodes of North West Tonight. If not, try the conspiracy theory that the Krypton Factor was shut down by Islamo-fascists inside the UK government for being too close to their own training camps.
More ECTs here.