More about forgotten act ‘The Glove’ and early UK alternative comedy clubs

Anna Smith & Gordon Breslin (a visitor from South London who is irrelevant to this piece) hold a copy of dead comedian Malcolm Hardee’s iconic autobiography (also irrelevant to this piece) within a hula hoop in Vancouver two weeks ago.

Anna Smith & Gordon Breslin (a visitor from South London who is irrelevant to this piece) hold a copy of dead comedian Malcolm Hardee’s iconic autobiography (also irrelevant to this piece) within a hula hoop in Vancouver two weeks ago.

After reading my piece yesterday in which Pull The Other One comedy club’s Vivienne & Martin Soan remembered ‘The Glove’ – a London taxi driver turned stand-up comic in the early days of UK alternative comedy – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith sent me more memories of this long-forgotten character. Remember you read it first here. You don’t get this stuff in newspapers.


Tony Green back in the day (Photograph courtesy of Anna Smith)

Tony Green ran the suspect comedy club. (Photograph courtesy of Anna Smith)

I remember The Glove. He showed up at a comedy club Tony Green and I ran briefly somewhere in the wilds of Near East London.

The Glove was very enthusiastic. We used to call him The Gauntlet.

He was very intense and had imploring eyes… such imploring eyes… He was always very grateful that we let him do his act.

At that time, he was just driving a mini cab.

He was young, handsome, maybe a mix of Mediterranean and Indian or Persian, perhaps Iraqi. He had a London-raised accent, but as if he might have arrived there as a child. He had very dark eyes, dense longish black hair gelled or oiled back and was very pretty in a way. He looked like maybe he worked out in a gym – neat and very clean, ready to assume the mantle of stardom at any moment, yet somehow ordinary, wearing blue jeans, track shoes and a nice leather jacket that fit.

When he put on THE GLOVE, it was as if he had transformed into a superstar in his own mind.

His spectacular black leather glove sparkled with bling and it was the focus of his act… In fact, it really WAS his act.

Felexible Anna Smith

Anna Smith in Wild East days

He just held his gloved arm straight in front of him, danced in the background and was completely serious about it… which was bizarre enough for us to let him perform his act whenever he liked. I think he may also have driven us to the tube station afterwards, which was good of him and much appreciated as our club was in such a dodgy area.

I do not at all remember where our club was. It was in London somewhere towards Plaistow, off the Central Line of the Underground. It was in a function room above a scruffy pub at the corner of some wasteland.

I remember the locals were skinheads and other ruffians who were elated by our presence because they figured that we were a lot of poofs and it would be fun to attack us later on. They acted like we were running a poofs’ convention, but they were afraid to see what we were up to by actually coming in.

Ian Hinchliffe did a great show there involving pasta. I did one also involving pasta on the same night, so I felt I had reached a great zenith… The skinheads were downstairs, daring each other to take a lunge up the staircase and finally the boldest, largest, craziest one bolted up the stairs, while his mates stood at the bottom waiting to see what would happen.

John Hegley & his poetic spectacles

John Hegley & his poetic spectacles

The great lout arrived at the door, pushed past and it happened that John Hegley was on stage reading one of his poems about his spectacles. This was too much for the would-be attacker to bear and he collapsed, bent over, convulsing with laughter, tears streaming down his face. Then slowly, quivering, he backed away and, stunned, returned to the foot of the stairs.

His mates were demanding:

“What is it?”

“What happened?”

“What are they doing?”

The guy gasped: “There’s a bloke… Up there… Telling POMES about his GLASSES!!!”

After that, they left us alone.

Did you ever hear of Lizzie and Her Handbag who lived in Camberwell? Or Rosie The Clown, who was a supply teacher who used to come up from the coast and perform in South London in a tigerskin Tarzan outfit which revealed one breast? She used to lie on glass and let men stomp up and down on her chest – only on stage, of course.


… I feel we may hear more from Anna Smith about this…

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