Occasionally I get asked to see shows by people in the hope that I might mention how wonderful they are in my increasingly-prestigious blog. I usually accept the free ticket. I am, after all, a Scot brought up among Jews. But, really, I tend not to review shows – I prefer to preview upcoming events with blog chats.
This has the advantage that I appear to have a bigger finger on the pulse of what is about to happen than I perhaps do… plus I get to drink tea and eat cake with some interesting people… and I do not have to give my detailed opinion on shows.
If I actually review shows, I risk being hated over a period of limitless years and being thrown out of parties to which I have been accidentally invited. This is not a good option for someone who likes tea and cake.
There is also the problem that, if I see a really superb show, there is very little I can say.
If I were to write a blog full of extreme adjectives praising the brilliance of the performance, writing and chair upholstery at the venue, it would read – even when it is entirely justified – like the worst luvvie puff imaginable and too much of this would lose me any credibility I might or might not have. So…
If I see crap and say so, I am a bastard.
If I see genius and praise it to the full extent it deserves, I am a luvvie puffball.
As a result, I prefer to talk to interesting people and enjoy quiet conversations over tea and cake.
Having said that…
Yesterday’s alleged 10th anniversary Pull The Other One comedy show in London’s strangely-increasingly trendy Nunhead was even more wonderful than normal, boosted even moreso by Lindsay Sharman hosting as three characters. Suffice to say, the show opened with Martin Soan’s Riverdance routine (a show-closer anywhere else) and ended by opening The Gates Of Hell.
Look, you had to be there.
(Comedian Lewis Schaffer was not.)
There were so many people on the bill – each one excellent – that there is no point me listing the names without going into extreme detail of why they were so good.
Not listing them will get me a black mark from each of the acts.
Listing just the names would lose reader interest.
Describing only some would get me disliked by the un-described.
It is an eternal trap for a critic.
Which, thankfully, I am not.
I am a mentioner of occasionally colourful background.
So I will just mention that the whole preparations for the night as well as the show itself were shot on five cameras by a crew from Ravensbourne College directed by a man who used to direct Cannon and Ball for ITV.
During the afternoon, club runner Martin Soan also took phone calls from various showbiz chums for various props they wanted him to create for them (including yet another giant vagina, which is becoming his speciality)… and comedian Lewis Schaffer wandered in.
Lewis Schaffer was not on the bill for the show, though Martin Soan had asked him to come along in the afternoon.
Lewis Schaffer wandered in and started saying Hi. I’m Lewis Schaffer to anyone who would listen. He is, after all, Lewis Schaffer and this is what he does.
One of those who listened was David Crossman, the aforementioned director from Ravensbourne, who wisely or unwisely chose to ask Lewis Schaffer questions in front of the cameras.
I fully expect the eventual half hour documentary to be about Lewis Schaffer with little mention of Pull The Other One.
Obviously, I chatted to Lewis Schaffer too. He makes it difficult not to.
“What happened to your cancer?” I asked him. “You were going to call your Edinburgh Fringe show Lewis Schaffer Has Cancer.
“I WAS going to develop cancer for my show,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but then I developed a boil on my back.”
I sympathised with Lewis Schaffer.
“I suppose it hasn’t got the same publicity value,” I said.
“No,” agreed Lewis Schaffer glumly, “and you’d be surprised how slowly those things go away.”
“Cancer?” I asked.
“Boils,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I don’t want to talk about this. It’s disgusting.”
“And cancer isn’t?” I asked.
“It was in the long line of show titles I have almost used but didn’t,” he replied, perking up. “Lewis Schaffer Is Jimmy Carr. Do you remember that one? The thing is people suggest show titles to me and then they’re mad when I choose my own show title,” he added glumly.
“What have you eventually decided to call your show this year?” I asked.
“Lewis Schaffer: Success Is Not An Option… I don’t have a plan for the future, John. I’m SO tired.”
“Why are you tired?” I asked.
“Because I’ve got sleep apnea.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“You know, John, when you’re old…”
“I know,” I told Lewis Schaffer.
“… your body gets flabby,” said Lewis Schaffer. “You probably don’t notice because you’ve never looked in a mirror, John: I can tell by the way you dress… Your body gets flabbier. But also your body on the inside gets flabbier too. You get all sorts of floppy-flop bits that are going on inside…”
“You’re thinking of women,” I suggested.
“…and what happens with old men,” said Lewis Schaffer, ignoring me, “is – like me – When I’m trying to fall asleep, I fall asleep and then my internal flaps…”
“What internal flaps?” I asked.
“Your glottis, your adenoids… In your throat, there are things that close.”
“Like bad shows?” I asked.
“They close,” said Lewis Schaffer, ignoring me, “so you don’t drown.”
“I think your ear lobes keep growing,” I mused. “They keep growing. My mother had big ear lobes when she died. The Queen Mother must have had ear lobes down to her knees.”
“They probably caught up with her tits,” said Lewis Schaffer. He pondered this for a few seconds and then asked me: “Is that funny?”
Shortly afterwards, Lewis Schaffer left the building because he was feeling exhausted and had to go home to bed. It was about 6.00pm.
About ten minutes later, I looked out the first floor window and saw him talking animatedly to three men in the street. He had found another audience.
About five minutes later, I went out and joined them. He talked for another ten minutes.
Usually, audiences seek out good comedians.
Lewis Schaffer seeks out good audiences.
He never turned up for the show.
Heather, one of his entourage, said he was asleep.
That was a pity. He would have enjoyed the show.
He could have talked to the audience afterwards.