Terry Wogan, James Bond, Superman and The Short Man With Long Socks

Terry Wogan and Jo Burke

Terry Wogan and performer Jo Burke at yesterday’s launch

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the book launch for Terry Wogan’s first novel Those Were the Days.

In passing, he mentioned that, at one point, he had been considered for the part of James Bond. But producer Cubby Broccoli thought his ears were too big and chose Roger Moore instead.

I took this as a joke, but one never can tell.

Terry Wogan novel

Terry Wogan’s first novel – autobiographical?

I seem to remember that movie producers the Salkinds seriously considered the younger Salkind’s wife’s dentist for the role of Superman and screen-tested him at least twice.

Yesterday evening, I went to see the Comedy International Showcase at the Pleasance in Islington. Full of interesting acts and not just on stage.

In the audience, I bumped into The Short Man With Long Socks, who had come specifically to see the always excellent Men in Coats. I half expected to find a whole row of clothes-related acts.

Men in Coats

Men in Coats were seen by The Short Man With Long Socks

I have never seen The Short Man With Long Socks perform – few people in the UK have. I have only heard of his act by repute from the late Malcolm Hardee and Martin Soan (both non-clothes-related acts) who talked about him in an October 2013 blog.

“Are you doing any London shows at some point?” I asked The Short Man With Long Socks.

“Well,” he said. “I… Well…”

Short Man with Long Socks

This appeared in my cyber In-Box this morning

“Could you send me a picture of you performing?” I asked.

“Well,” he said. “Well…”

“Here’s my e-mail,” I said.

“Well…” he said.

I thought: Well, I’ll never hear from him again… and don’t try talking to mime acts.

But, this morning, I got an e-mail picture of a sock.

Well, it’s a start.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Comedy, Movies

Dear Sir, I am looking for information how to participating as comedian


One of the joys of life is getting e-mails from people I don’t know.

For example, yesterday I got an email:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am looking for information how to participating as comedian in a solo show which I called “an italian stallion”. the show it is for adult content to make sure. I prefer rate it 18 and over. I register on you site but I am confused how to find a venue and participating as solo artist and what fees am I involved?

could kindly replay to (a specific Gmail address)

thanks  a tot for your kind attention 

yours sincerely

Rocco MrHabana

Any who wants to help him, do get in touch with me.


Filed under Comedy, Sex

Copstick in Kenya does a roaring trade

The Mama Biashara HQ at the Nairobi Showgrounds this week (Doris, centre in red)

The Mama Biashara HQ at the Showground this week (Mama B organiser Doris, centre right in red)

To round off this week’s blogs about comedy critic Kate Copstick in Kenya, here are some final extracts from her diary.

Her small-scale business start-up charity Mama Biashara has been working at the annual Nairobi International Trade Show:


Doris calls to say the City Council gang have been round again extorting money from the little people. Otherwise all is going well at The Show. We now have over 200 women and over 100 guys working there. Most recently we added 10 new guys doing shoeshine. And a roaring trade.


Felista arrives with a gift of eggs but for some reason I am in such pain that I cannot get out of bed. An hour later and I am up but very very sore. Pain that feels as if it is in my bones. I take my last quarter Oxycontin and soon feel better. I chat with Felista and Cecilia who joins for a bit. Doris texts from the Showground (where everything is being packed up and sorted out), to say that Mama Biashara has kicked off 324 BRAND NEW business people at the Show this week. And that is not counting the already established Mama B peeps who were also there making a good amount.

Our big success, says Doris, was – surprisingly – the young men (60 of them, many ex-drunkards and casualties of the government’s crack down on illegal booze) who did the garbage collection. They made 1,000 shillings per day. Which is more than they ever dreamed. We are thrilled. The sugar cane people have big new orders and our cocktails are much in demand…

All good.

I leave Felista at the Mali Cafe to have lunch and go to Junction to use WiFi and do a little necessary shopping. I do a lot of packing as everything is going to the airport tomorrow. Not much soapstone means things are easier packing wise. Although somehow two lovely rosewood carvings are already broken.


David arrives at 9.30am and we start loading the car. I have brought Dollars this time which is much better as the Shilling is pretty much in the financial toilet at the moment. I contact the marvellous Les Phillpott (Our Man At Heathrow) to arrange customs clearance on Thursday (which is when Benson The Cargo Man says it will arrive) and head to have some lunch.

I am meeting Jayne and Doris later and they opt for Shalom (grrrrrr – 100 bob for a coffee !). I go through a load of business proposals. I am VERY strict as most of them seem to be operating on a profit of about £1.50 per day. I do a lot of what is now called “your mathematics” and explain why these businesses are not sustainable. Jayne makes copious notes and nods a lot. Doris arrives, still buzzing from the success of the show.

Sorry this ends abruptly but I have to go to the loo…

Back in Britain with more stock for the Mama Biashara shop in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, Copstick will be recording the weekly Grouchy Club Podcast with me this Friday.

And there will be live (free) Grouchy Club chat shows at the Mama Biashara shop in Shepherd’s Bush on Tuesday 13th October, Tuesday 10th November, Tuesday 8th December and Tuesday 22nd December.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Levity is an absolute necessity in what can be considered a very dark subject”

The number of unknown unknowns is unknown

Yesterday’s blog revolved around a blog posted two days ago in which Kate Copstick had described the terrible plight of teenage brides in Kenya but finished with a lighthearted reference to the size of a kitten’s testicles.

Reader ‘Glenda’ had commented that “unfortunately, the witty remark about a cat’s balls is what registers on the reader’s mind and the serious issue concerning these African women is simply forgotten.

In yesterday’s blog, I wondered if jokes in serious pieces demeaned the subject. A few of the comments on this were:

No, perception & timing & intent.  A lot like robbing a security van John. (comedian Del Strain, via Twitter)

Yes and make them affordable to the masses. (Griff, via Twitter)

Depends on the quality of the joke. (Andrew Fox, via Facebook)

I had almost completely forgotten the kitten balls. But not the women. (Anna Smith, via WordPress)

Glenda’s comment is absolute bollocks (coincidentally). The levity at the end of the blog if anything throws the serious content into relief. Why do people have to be needlessly disparaging and superior, i.e: “It’s all very worthy and honourable, Kate Copstick blogging about the plight of these African women . . .” (comedian Janet Bettesworth, via WordPress)

Actually, I think Glenda has a point and I can see both sides.

I did think, when I posted Copstick’s diary piece, about chopping off the end bit re the kitten for the very reason Glenda gives. But I did not because I thought it would misrepresent what Copstick wrote, plus it did add a bit of jollity, plus it gave a plug to Malcolm Hardee and would mean something extra to a section of the blog readership. Other responses have been:

It’s oversimplifying to say the piece ends with an “adolescent remark.” It actually ends with some quite melancholy paragraphs about the late friend’s number being changed and the consolation of symbolically “making order from chaos”. The final details of the cats provides a beautiful counterpoint to this melancholy. It’s a very well written piece and anyone who forgets the main point so easily is probably going to forget it in a few moments away. (Cy, via WordPress)

Life goes on. In the midst of difficulty and death the small humorous things still raise their heads, ask to be observed as part of our reality. To help people effectively and constructively, I assume you have to be pragmatic and matter of fact, not hand-wringing which wouldn’t help anyone but which is easy enough to do from the comfort of our armchair viewing. (comedian Charmian Hughes, via WordPress)

Levity is an absolute necessity in what can be considered a very dark subject and I agree with Katie in her opinion regarding light and shade. It does raise the question regards what subjects can humour be added to and where we, as a society, draw the line. 

Take the very dark subject of paedophilia. Many jokes have been told by comedians about the Catholic Church and their approach towards priests who have abused vulnerable youngsters for decades, yet similar jokes about such showbiz individuals as Jimmy Savile face a barrage of criticism.

Perhaps it’s related to proximity or maybe the identification of individuals makes something much more personal and intense than an organisation. It is probably a very big discussion about what subjects are taboo amongst comedians and at what point a particular subject is deemed acceptable. (Alan Gregory, via WordPress)

Once I went to see Mark Thomas and I was really impressed by the combination of sincerely-felt idealism on one hand and irony on the other. After the show, I had a brief chat with him and he explained that the secret is taking the cause seriously while never taking seriously you fighting the cause. It’s a form of dissociation. On the other hand, people who are not able to do so and cannot poke fun at their idealism often become unintentionally ridiculous. Think of Don Quixote. Or Peter Buckley Hill. (comedian Giacinto Palmieri, via email)

Leave a comment

Filed under Bad taste, Comedy

Do jokes cheapen serious subjects?

Laugh oh laugh oh laughYesterday’s blog was a diary piece by comedy critic Kate Copstick, basically about the very tragic plight of child brides in Kenya. At the end, she mentioned (factually) a small kitten she had encountered.

After the blog was posted, there was a comment by ‘Glenda’:

It’s all very worthy and honourable Kate Copstick blogging about the plight of these African woman and drawing our attention to their wretched existence, but the seriousness of this situation is eclipsed by an adolescent remark at the end of the article about a cat’s balls. And unfortunately, the witty remark about a cat’s balls is what registers on the reader’s mind and the serious issue concerning these African women is simply forgotten.

After this, another reader, ‘Sandy Mac’ commented:

In grim situations the use of humour, whichever form it takes, reduces tension and lifts the spirits. At least I’ve always found it to be a good coping strategy. Personally, I didn’t feel that the ending detracted from the seriousness of the article, or in any way diluted the message.

I can see both are valid viewpoints.

In Kenya, Copstick’s view of Glenda’s opinion was:

OK. Fair comment. But it is more of a comment on her that she is so readily distracted. The diaries need light and shade… however it is a fair point. Although I really object to being deemed worthy and honourable.

These apparently opposing opinions on adding light to shade link to Edinburgh Fringe ‘comedy’ shows where often very, very serious subjects are lightened by laughter. Does adding humour to something very serious dumb-down and demean the subject? I would be interested to hear other opinions.

(Note: I may quote and credit any comments)

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Writing

Kate Copstick on married life in Kenya

Kate Copstick. My house. Yes this is more or less all of it. I am standing with my back to the other wall.

Where Kate Copstick lives when in Nairobi: “Yes this is more or less all of it. I am standing with my back to the other wall.”

More news from comedy critic Kate Copstick, who is currently in Kenya, where her charity Mama Biashara gives small grants and advice to mostly women wanting to start small businesses which can raise them out of their extreme poverty.

Note. Zimbabwean men in Kenya tend to have more than one wife.

A blog from Kenya a couple of days ago mentioned that Mama Biashara has stalls at the Nairobi International Trade Show – the Big Event of the Nairobi year in terms of business and enterprise – and that the President was due to pay a visit. Now read on…

Mama Biashara’s Kate Copstick at a happier time in Kenya

Copstick, currently in Kenya


It is another slightly odd day when nothing happens as it should.

I am supposed to have a meet with Doris and more of the Zimbabwean Third Wives Club who need a grant to start business. They are trapped in the ghastly jam caused by the Prez going to the Show (he was scheduled to go yesterday but, of course, he is late). Lest the Prez be tainted by anything approaching real life in Nairobi, the roads are cleared and all normal traffic held back while his motorcade sweeps by.

When Doris does arrive she has two young women with her, representing the two groups of Zimbabwean Third Wives. The groups could not come en masse – there are 50 women in one group and 62 in the other. The young women are charming. We discuss the businesses.

I ask if the ladies could let me know how many children the women in the group have. The total is 479 for both groups.

Many of these young women already have 5 children by the age of 17 or 18. They are married at 12 and impregnated almost immediately. The young women I am sitting with are 17 and 18. They have 8 children between them. The first and second wives sometimes have as many as 12. The men do and give absolutely nothing by way of support.

The living conditions are pretty horrific – given the enormous numbers of children and the extreme poverty in which they live. They do not, Doris tells me, even have enough unga (flour) to make solid ugali. Their ugali is like soup. It should be like cake. They sleep as many as twenty to a room.

Now that the Zimbabwean community here is a couple of generations old, women of the Third Wives’ ages are looking for another way. Mama Biashara was the first ever help they were given.

These are the women for whom we ran the Secret School (but we don’t have the infrastructure or resources to continue it – much as we would like). These are the women for whom (at their begging request) Doris supplies the pill. These are women who, in secret, are doing massive business across Sudan. The effects can be seen in the much improved living conditions of their families, their nutrition, the number of their children going to school… but apparently the wazee (the much MUCH older husbands) are beginning to talk… to notice the money coming in. And this is dangerous for our women. But they are desperate to continue. And expand. They want a better life for themselves and their (many) children. They are going further underground with their supply lines.

Third wives are aged anything from 12 to 20. After that they are sort of discarded as hubby gets another 12 year-old and they are left to support the children and feed the husband.

I really want to offer them an alternative.

Their community operates like a sort of sect. Any deviation from its religious rules meets with fairly ghastly consequences. They have their own ‘courts’ and their own punishments. Any girl not getting married when told to would be an absolute pariah in the community. An outcast. But not allowed to leave. Ditto any mother not allowing her 12 year-old to be laid waste (literally and metaphorically) by some 50 year-old in the market for Wife No 4.

There is no real option for the young women who want out and there are many now.

The women who have had the experience of going to Sudan to do business love the freedom, love the power, love the life of independence and they want to learn to read and to write and they want their girls to have a proper chance in life. They are brought up in this closed community ruled by men with their over-active rods of iron. I want to give them an option. An escape route. We are not going to persuade anyone, we are not going to do a hard sell, but I want to (and it is a way off) establish a refuge for up to ten Wives at a time, with their children.

They come, they get acclimatised to life outside, they continue their business and make money but no longer have to hide it. And, when they are ready, and have found somewhere they think they can live happily, they go. And thus we establish little mini-communities of Zimbabwean ladies all over the place. But without the men forcing them to do anything. Least of all forcing them to hand their 12 year-old daughters over to a a 50 year-old man.

It needs a lot of planning. Somewhere very safe. And it will need a fair old wedge of money. I am very much against the march of Middle Class White ‘Liberalism’ hurtling in to trample all over cultures which are thousands of years old and ways of life that suit the people living them. But too, too many of these young women have come to us now wanting out. Wanting a different life for themselves and their kids.

Sorry I have been wittering on quite repetitively.

But I have never met a 17 year-old with 5 children before. It is an experience I found quite difficult.

Doris goes off to the show.

I start packing for Monday when we take the stuff to the airport cargo area.

Doris calls to ask what would cause a 21 year-old woman to scream in pain and say her chest is burning. I ask if her chest is, in fact, burning. It is not. I ask the usual – What has she eaten/drunk? Where exactly is the pain? Has it happened before? Are there any other symptoms? – and have only just got into my quasi-medical stride when Doris texts to say that the young woman knows what is wrong. She is possessed by demons.

I lie on my mattress and look at my WhatsApp conversations with Rebecca right up until the day before she died. Suddenly, before my eyes, her picture disappears from the profile to be replaced by some ghastly, pouting, lipsticked, anorexic 14 year-old.

The phone had, as promised, been stopped and the number was now someone else’s.

I turn to my new addiction. Solitaire. Known to us older people as Patience. I play it obsessively. I understand that this is about making order from chaos. And it comforts me. My phone tells me I have spent 34 hours playing since I started about a month and a half ago.

I am visited by the two, now grown-up, kittens I knew when I lived in the other little house here. One is seal point and the other tortoiseshell and very reminiscent of William, the cat who entered and enhanced Daddy Copstick’s life for a while and then left as suddenly as he came. They are ridiculously affectionate. To the point of developing (in the case of William Jnr) a tiny feline erection as I played with him (not like that!).

I notice he has MASSIVE balls (for a cat his size) and immediately re-christen him Malcolm (after Malcolm Hardee, of course). I have never actually been as close up and personal with a young cat’s tackle, but Malcolm made his attributes hard to miss.

A couple of games of Solitaire later I sleep.


Filed under Africa, Kenya, Sex

Comic Janey Godley on the benefits of social media but not of Turkish men

Janey Godley recorded the Grouchy Club podcast yesterday

Janey recorded the Grouchy Club Podcast with me yesterday

This may not be for the easily offended.

As comedy critic Kate Copstick is still in Kenya, yesterday I recorded the weekly Grouchy Club Podcast with comic Janey Godley

We talked about strange acts, swearing, David Cameron’s penis and the pig, the Moth’s storytelling, free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and UK comedy in general.

Janey published her jaw-dropping best-selling autobiography Handstands in The Dark in 2005 and also started blogging regularly in early 2005. So, during the podcast, we talked about her widespread social media presence. Here is a short extract:

You stopped blogging regularly. Why? Were you just going with the trend.

Yeah, well, I use Twitter, I use Instagram, I use Vine and people have got access to lots of different… And I Periscope! I was one of the first British comics to use Periscope.

Well, you were one of the first bloggers. The sad thing is now you are very Twittery and Periscopey and they’re all transient. They don’t last at all. So people, in two years time, will never see what you’ve done whereas, when you used to blog, there’s something there. But I suppose that’s like live comedy as opposed to recorded comedy.

I like the fact that I can Tweet and Periscope. One of the amazing things about Periscope was that, as soon as I started Periscoping, my book started selling (even more) because people all over the world were watching me. Periscope’s a great medium for comedians and people who aren’t worried about folk being abusive online. You get all these beautiful women that go: I’m going to be doing a make-over online and you can talk to me and I’ll be in my bikini. And then you get all these men who go: You’re an ugly bastard! And she’s: Oh my Gawd! I can’t believe you said that! Whereas, if you say that to me, I’ll say : Shut up! Away and fuck yer mother and get burnt in a caravan! I don’t care, y’know?

Whenever I see tags for your Periscope, they seem to include things like Kim Kardashian.

Yeah, sometimes I dress up as… What I do is sometimes I’ll put on loads of make-up and put on a big hairpiece and I’ll say KIM KARDASHIAN – LIVE ON PERISCOPE! – VIP ACCESS ONLY – There’s no such thing as VIP Access on Periscope. But, immediately, the whole of Turkey… cos Turkish men really love Periscope and they’re really, really abusive and misogynistic on it… I know that sounds like I’m racially profiling, but I can back it up by news reports. Other people have had to ban the majority of men in Turkey who come on Periscope and go: Open boobs! Open boobs! We have a hashtag Open Boobs. They’re asking you to show them your breasts, as opposed to heart surgery.

I know. Open boobs! doesn’t quite compute, does it?

And we have a song:
Open boobs!
Open boobs!
Open boobs and anal!

They sometimes ask for anal.

On Periscope?

Abso-fuckin-lutely. If your opening gambit is Open boobs! Anal sex – and sex is spelled SEXCT, which is bizarre… They want sex; they want anal. They want open boobs… So the minute they do that, I abuse them back. It’s a really weird thing that some people think they can abuse you if you’re in the public eye but, if you immediately say: Go fuck yourself! (and sing)

Go fuck your mother
And if your mother’s dead
Dig her up and fuck her instead

… they’re horrified you say that.

But it’s OK for them to say Anal.

And this sells books.

It does. All my Periscope followers will say: Sing the song, Janey! So, as soon as someone says SEXCT! OPEN BOOBS! I say: Go and fuck your mother! – And there’s a dance – And if your mother’s dead Dig her up and fuck her instead – They’re like: That’s horrific! and I say: You started this, ya cunt!

This is a serious point: Periscope is selling your books, but Twitter isn’t?

Twitter does as well, but it’s mostly Periscope.

And you’re still in print, which is a rare thing, because it’s ten years old, isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah. It is still in print and it’s going great.

I still think there should be a sequel, but there we go.

Yeah, shut the fuck up about the sequel. I don’t want to hear about that any more.

You could self-publish the sequel. That’s where the money is.

John, there’s nothing to talk about.

There is.


Janey Godley: My Rise To Infamy… I can see it now.

Shut up.

The full 22-minute podcast can be heard on Podomatic and downloaded from iTunes.

Janey Godley’s bestselling autobiography

Janey Godley’s bestselling autobiography

Leave a comment

Filed under Periscope, Podcasts, Sex, social media, Twitter