Critic Kate Copstick on TV comedy and grey-haired Lewis Schaffer’s sex appeal

Copstick and moi recording the podcast yesterday

Copstick et moi record the Grouchy Club Podcast yesterday

Yesterday, Kate Copstick and I recorded our sixth Grouchy Club Podcast at her Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Amid talk of sex and a Manchester Hotel which used to be a brothel, the subject of comedian Lewis Schaffer’s sex appeal came up.


COPSTICK

… and he’s looking well. Even since he stopped dying his hair.

Lewis Schaffer’s flyer image for his Leicester Square shows

Lewis Schaffer with his dyed hair – even then a heart-throb?

JOHN

Ah, now… Sex and Lewis Schaffer and his hair. I think it makes him look older and therefore less attractive I would have thought – I don’t know, but…

COPSTICK

No. He’s become a bit of a silver fox, don’t you think?

JOHN

Women keep telling me he’s more attractive with his grey hair. I would have thought, if you’re a stand-up comedian, you have to be young.

COPSTICK

With Lewis and the jet-black hair, there was a definite hint of Lenny Beige.

Not Lewis Schaffer - Lenny Beige

It’s not Lewis Schaffer – It’s Lenny Beige

JOHN

(LAUGHING) For people who don’t know Lenny Beige, he was a sort-of fake lounge lizard comedian.

COPSTICK

(IN AMERICAN ACCENT) Fantastic! With more or less the same accent as Lewis Schaffer. A funny, funny man.

JOHN

But fake. As, indeed, is Lewis because, of course, he’s from Birmingham.

COPSTICK

Of course… And he’s not a failure.

JOHN

Well yes. Poor old Lewis Schaffer, who’s made his entire reputation out of being a failure and having a show called…

COPSTICK

He’s been on the (BBC Radio 4) Today programme, for fucksake!

JOHN

I know. His show was called Free Until Famous and now he’s charging a tenner (£10) in Edinburgh to get in and a tenner in Leicester Square for the last god knows how long.

Lewis Schaffer in his weekly Leicester Square Theatre show

Lewis Schaffer in his weekly Leicester Square Theatre show International Man of Misery

COPSTICK

Where’s he going to? That’s the thing. If you build a career on failure, when you start to succeed, where do you go?

JOHN

Upwards. He’s going to fail at being a failure, therefore he’s going to go upwards. Most people fail at being a success and go downwards.

COPSTICK

But then is he going to be able to get away with stumbling on stage and just talking shit for an hour?

JOHN

Well, yes. It’s very interesting shit he talks. Did you see the video of the Today programme? That was interesting.

COPSTICK

There are videos of the Today programme?

JOHN

They seem to have some sort of webcam up in the corner.

COPSTICK

That’s very modern of them. With John Humphries?

Lewis Schaffer on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

Lewis Schaffer on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in March

JOHN

They had a webcam and someone gave the link to Lewis and he put it online on Facebook and he looked really good on camera. John Humphries was in the corner shuffling papers, because it wasn’t his serious item. But Lewis looked really good on television. He would be really good on television documentaries. He’s not a stand-up comedian because he can’t replicate the act phrase-for-phrase, pause-for-pause in rehearsals, dress rehearsals and the take. But he’d be very good on like My View of Britain. It would be like Letter From America with Alistair Cooke.

COPSTICK

He does… He chunters… He’s a bit like Phil Kaye, who can be absolutely genius on stage or can be What the fuck was all that about? And that sort of thing is very difficult to capture on television because you are time constrained on television. When someone rambles the way Phil or Lewis rambles, it’s not rambling in a way you can chop down to make something succinct.

JOHN

You need nerves of steel as a producer and just let it go. I was in the audience at London Weekend for the first episode of a Michael Barrymore series and they kept interrupting the show to say to Michael that he had gone off script and they kept putting him back on script, which was completely mad. You want to let him loose, hope for the best, have nerves of steel and have a very good director who can edit…

At the time of posting, the BBC website has a video clip of Lewis Schaffer on the Today programme.

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Filed under Age, Comedy, Television

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