Smallman Syndrome - 198

Published: 20 April, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 198, May, 2011

One man’s tragic obsession with the sillier side of tattooing...Hello there lovers of all things tattooed.  This week I bring you a tale of my own stupidity rather than that of others.

You see, like most stand-up comedians I will be sashaying my way up to Edinburgh in August to perform at the fringe festival.  With me looking the way I do (odd and tattooed) it seemed only right that I would write a show about being, well, odd and tattooed.  I decided to call it “Tattooligan” and then started dreaming up a variety of daft
gimmicks for it.

The most obvious gimmick was to have the show title tattooed on me somewhere.  I discussed this with friends, who thought it was frivolous.  I discussed it with family, who rolled their eyes in the usual way (they’re now used to me making perfectly ridiculous life choices).  And finally I discussed it with my agent, who thought it sounded like a perfectly excellent way to sell tickets.

The plan was this: I would get it tattooed on me, film it, put the video on YouTube and it would generate a buzz around my show before the festival had even begun.  Perfect.

Skip back to last month:  Remember that I asked what the most painful place to get tattooed was?  That small point will become painfully (pun intended) relevant in a couple of minutes.

Anyway, I popped in to see my friends Martin and Shay in Kasbah in Leicester.  We discussed the font, the size and where it would go.  I decided upon my stomach, as it’s one of very few places that I don’t have inked and I’m quite proud of having lost a bit of weight this year.  I came back a couple of days later with my friend David (who was filming the experience), as excited as usual about being tattooed.

Crucially, I was greeted by Shay who (and bear in mind this is an artist who has pretty much his entire body tattooed) warned me that this was going to hurt.  Whilst laughing. 

I thought to myself “Ha, I had my elbow done last week.  How bad can this be?”

The answer, my friends, is about as bad a 45 minutes that I’ve experienced in my life.  I would have been concerned about my so-called friends guffawing at my plight if I could actually concentrate on anything other than the ridiculous pain that I was going through.  Why did nobody warn me about this?  More to the point, why did I not pay any attention when people CLEARLY did warn me about this?

Well, I am now the proud owner of a stomach tattoo, expertly applied by Martin.  And as luck would have it, a lot of footage of me being in utter agony that – whilst making me cringe to watch it back – will probably sell the stupidity of me and my show marvellously.

I’m having some more work on my chest soon, and I got the following in my inbox from Alan Robson in Gateshead describing his most painful tattoo: “Both sides of my chest were about 50 out of 10 on the pain scale.”

I’ll never learn, will I?

Don’t forget to send me your pictures and stories about the dafter side of tattooing.  See you next month...



Text: Jim Smallman