Category Archives: Bad taste

Chris Dangerfield, political correctness in comedy and recurring fishnet tights

Fishnet stockings (not tights)

Fishnet stockings – not tights. (Photograph by RJFerret)

Chris Dangerfield in Dean Street, Soho

Chris with shopping bag in Soho

When I met performer Chris Dangerfield in London’s Soho last week, he wanted to talk about how political correctness has gone mad and I wanted to talk about fishnet tights.

“I thought you were leaving the country,” I said.

“I did plan to go travelling for a couple of years,” he told me, “maybe forever. But my problem, John, is connection and going travelling is almost giving up connecting with people and having nothing permanent. I would just be a wanderer and get old and end up one of those blokes on a beach in Thailand with no hair.”

“That seems to be what I’ve done,” I said, “except for the beach.”

“This is the concern,” Chris said, “ending up like you. But business is going so well that, if I commit to work for the next couple of years, I’ll probably be able to retire well.

“This,” I asked, “is your lock-picking business?”

“Yeah. I just got a warehouse in America and we’re thinking of maybe doing something in Hong Kong. But what I wanna talk to you about is Gazza and his joke.”

We then talked about various subjects.

“I can’t post that,” I said. “It is not going to read well in print. It will make you look bad.”

“What?” asked Chris. “As in ‘bad’ not interesting or ‘bad’ meaning I look like a cunt?

“Yes,” I said. “I…”

Glasgow Police being uncharacteristically sensitive on Twitter

Glasgow Police being uncharacteristically sensitive on Twitter

“I don’t care,” he told me. “Put it all in. I’m done with caring about all that bullshit. The Glasgow police have got a Twitter account and they Tweeted – This is 100% true – They Tweeted We may pay you a visit if you Tweet anything illegal – that’s fair enough – unnecessary and unkind. The police Tweeted this! We may pay you a visit if you Tweet anything unnecessary and unkind. This is actually happening! It’s absurd!

“The Canadian comedian Mike Ward made a joke about some spastic kid and was fined $42,000. It’s bullshit. What is happening not just to comedy but to the world?… How was the Edinburgh Fringe this year? You’ve watched it go downhill for the last 16 years. Be honest now. It’s shit, isn’t it?”

“I don’t really see that much difference,” I replied. “You were supposed to be coming up for a few days this year. I was looking forward to that.”

“I thought about visiting for a few days,” Chris explained, “but I’ve just got too much work on. Hardeep sorted out a room for me with another friend, but her Facebook had fishnets and I thought: Oh shit!

“Fishnets?” I asked.

“Not Hardeep. His friend. I thought: I’ll be sitting in a room working and then only going out for a couple of hours. So I didn’t get up there. I’m thinking of doing a show next year.”

“Fishnet tights?” I asked.

“No, stockings,” Chris replied. “Stockings. No-one wears tights any more in my bedroom. I can’t be doing with them. They remind me of my mother. I would find my mum’s tights with her knickers rolled up in them at the bottom of the stairs. Eugh! Dark tan. Not black, not white, not pink, nothing sexy. But, nonetheless, if a woman arrives in my bed with tights on, they have to be removed. That’s a game changer as much as no hair on a woman.

“Where were we? My Edinburgh show maybe next year. I’ve been quite outspoken about the political correctness movement that is gaining so much power at the moment and I’ve lost a lot of friends through that. And some of them were my media contacts that I’d spent eight years building up. And they’ve become arsehole virtue social justice warriors. Really. A lot of them have gone. All just disappeared from my Contacts list.”

“So will you do a show next year?” I asked.

Rare sight - shy Copstick - at Mama Biashara

Kate Copstick might be involved with Chris

Copstick said to me: For fuck’s sake do a show up here – which was very nice of her. I said: If I do, I’ll need your help and she said something along the lines of Alright. You interrupted her on the Grouchy Club Podcast. She was about to market me as part of the… But you interrupted, mumbling something about biscuits…”

“Well,” I said, “that’s my role.””

“Let’s get back,” Chris insisted, “to political correctness being poison.”

“Net stockings?” I tried.

“I think this is going to snowball,” Chris persisted. “People are taken to court for really shitty jokes that are not racist, that are not harassment. It’s happening. There are lots of examples. There’s Guy Earle in Canada. A load of people heckled him. They introduced themselves into his show. They were the vampires at his door. He welcomed them in. He shouted back at them and they took him to court and won. This is madness.

“When I read the Top Ten Jokes in Edinburgh, they are lollystick jokes aren’t they? They are good for families. But that’s nothing to do with me. And that’s alright. I don’t expect it to all be about me. Far from it. But that’s what gets the Awards. Lollystick acts. The awards have the odd inoculation – a small amount of acknowledged evil that will make them feel better. It works like an inoculation. They take on a few people who are a bit risky to protect themselves against the generalised evil and generalised subversion.”

“You realise,” I asked, “that this blog is going to have nothing in it about political correctness – just fishnet tights?”

“Stockings!” said Chris. “The other thing, of course, is I’ve just finished writing a novel. The story is there. But it’s not long enough and it needs a lot of work on it.”

“That’” I told him, “is what women constantly say to me.”

“It needs as much editing as you do,” said Chris, “which is a helluva lot. At the moment it’s 58,000 words; I’m aiming for around 75,000. The book is the story of a man who goes to Thailand to get clean (of drugs) and gets a lot less than he bargained for.”

Chris Dangerfield in Thailand yesterday morning

Chris Dangerfield had some laughs  in Thailand

“Does he,” I asked, “try to kick his heroin addiction in a brothel?”

“Yes.”

“That always seemed a very bad idea,” I told Chris. “Doing it for real.”

Chris told me: “I set out to write it thinking it was about a man getting clean in a brothel. But it isn’t. It’s about childhood, nostalgia and connection. When you set out… When you define your enclosure and say It’s about this and contrive something, it doesn’t work. It’s not creative.”

“So,” I asked, “it has ended up being about the man and how he got to be who he is?”

“Yeah. To an extent. Or how he didn’t become what he should be. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done. It would be really nice if I got it published before next August and I would do a reading (at the Edinburgh Fringe). Then I can present it as fiction and avoid a lot of trouble.”

“How can you present it as fiction?” I asked.

“Well,” said Chris, “I mean, some of it’s fictional; it just has to be.”

“The more unbelievable something seems,” I suggested, “very often the more true it is. You have to tone down reality to make it believable.”

Coming soon – the last ever performance of his 2012 show

Chris had to downplay the actual reality to make it believable

“Absolutely,” said Chris. “That’s what happened with (Edinburgh Fringe show) Sex Tourist. I had to play it down. That was totally insane. I bought a gun. They’re plastic.

“When I finally came out of that methamphetamine binge, I took the gun back to the shop and said: Mate, I’m done with the gun. I really don’t need it.

“And he was all No, no, no. You can take it back to England and he took it all to pieces and said I’ll send it back to you in parts. I asked What do I do for bullets? and he said I can send you them as well.”

“Not plastic bullets?” I asked.

“No. Do you know blank keys are made out of spent bullet shells? They use a lot of bullets in practising and they collect them all, melt them all down and make keys in America.”

“Have you written a novel before?” I asked.

“I had one vanity publishing thing in my early 20s – Tired etc. It done quite well, got some good reviews, was in i-D, Loaded.”

“What’s the new one called?”

“A friend suggested Last Exit To Patong… You know, John, I don’t think you’re going to have a coherent blog here.”

“It’s never worried me before.”

“What? When I was smoking crack in Brown’s? Do you remember? I had to run to the chemist. I read that blog back and thought: Who is this? I was reading it, really excited, wondering: Oh shit! What happens next? And it was me.

“Tights,” I said.

“They’re horrible things,” Chris replied.

“Fishnet tights?” I asked.

“There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with anything. Nothing’s good; nothing’s bad. But I have a relationship with them that I don’t want to re-live with a sexual partner… Look, when I’m coming down my stairs as a toddler on my hands and knees, at the bottom, I end up with my face in my mum’s gusset. That’s a phrase I never wanted to say. I can’t stand them. They’re a proper party-killer. Tight round the waist, gonna leave a mark and there’s a thread and a seam that goes round the fanny.”

“You know,” I said, “when you realise you shouldn’t have said something?”

“No,” said Chris. “No, I haven’t got to that stage yet.”

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Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, Drugs, political correctness, Sex

The Kunt (and The Gang) Monologues

When Kunt and The Gang announced earlier this year that he was retiring, I immediately booked him to climax the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe last month with his song Paper Boy. That version is not on YouTube, but this one is…

I thought it would also be interesting to chat to him for a blog, but he told me: “I stopped doing face to face stuff as it never comes across in print quite as well as the email interviews.”

I told him: “I’m never very keen on written Q&A ‘interviews’ because they never sound like a lively conversation. Writing in grammatical perfection is always a killer.”

So, inevitably, we did do a Q&A email interview. This is it.

Q – Why are you giving up? Have you run out of original ideas? Have you gone mentally dull? Do you now want to smoke a pipe, suck Werther’s Original sweets and hug people rather than offend them?

Kunt and Jimmy Savile

Kunt had new inspiration suddenly pumped into him in 2011

A – I ran out of ideas in 2011 but, luckily for me, Operation Yewtree came along and helped me drag it out for another five years. I’ve been thinking of packing it in for a few years, but my mind was made up because of how many maverick celebrities have croaked this year – Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne etc. etc. If they keep dropping at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before my minor internet celebrity status gets bumped up and then I’m on the ‘at risk’ register.

Q – Are you so stinking rich now that you don’t need to work and just want to watch Countdown on TV?

A – Yes, because playing 50 gigs a year for 6 quid a ticket can make you a millionaire. Are you having a fucking laugh? Don’t worry. I’m still driving round in a Ford Fiesta and looking for the yellow ‘whoops’ stickers in Asda.

Q – Did you get to keep your 2011 Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award or did Bob Slayer nick it?

A – I gave it away in a competition. A bloke from Colchester won it. They’re not worth loads of money, are they?

Q – They’re increasingly prestigious. Is your retirement just a scam? Everyone thinks it might be. Are you going to keep doing ‘return’ gigs like Frank Sinatra?

A – I’m not quite sure why everyone thinks it’s a big scam. I think people are just in the denial stage of grief. I had four people at my gig in Bristol last week tell me that I should call my comeback tour ‘The Cum-back Tour’. With my current Christ complex, I’m favouring ‘The Res-erection’.

Kunt’ll Fix It

Now then, now then, boys and girls. What will he do next?

Q – Are you likely to reappear as a different character? Like Avid Merrion in Bo’ Selecta became Keith Lemon?

A – Highly unlikely.

Q – How did you think up the Kunt character and, indeed, why?

A – I’m still a bit baffled that you refer to me as a character! Is Sting a character? Is Bono a character? No!

They’re really just a couple of cunts so why can’t I just be a kunt?

Q – What were you before you were a Kunt?

A – I worked part-time for the local council doing odd jobs for the Youth Service. Whenever I tell anyone that I suddenly see them thinking: Historical sex crimes.

Q – Odd jobs? Such as?

A – It was a few years ago but, as I remember, I was just sent to the youth centres in the daytime when there were no teenagers around to do minor maintenance tasks like collecting the money out of pool tables and sniffing the toilet seats.

Q – Describe your best shit.

A – A one-and-half turd visit on the 15th December 2013, which I tweeted a picture of to Simon Cowell as part of the world’s first ever virtual dirty protest.

Q – Describe your worst sex act.

A – Drunkenly trying to get big Karen to finish me off in a toilet cubicle in the multi story car park next to Club Art in Southend while my mates jumped up pulling faces over the door.

Q – When you were 17, what did you think you would be when you were 34?

A – I couldn’t imagine being 21 when I was 17, let alone 34. I’ve always thought if you think about things too hard you’ll talk yourself out of it.

Q – So, in the past, this philosophy of life has resulted in you doing what?

A – All this. And kicking the odd pensioner’s wall in.

Q – Has writing wall-to-wall filth worn your spirit down? Are you going to write non-filth now?

A – I don’t think of it as wall-to-wall filth. I think I’m just dealing with the difficult subjects that no one else wants to sing about. Because of that, I think I‘ve been lucky to have a whole new raft of rhyming couplets that no other fucker wanted – like ‘come uppance’ and ‘lady’s tuppence’. That said, I always had a secret ambition to do Eurovision but I’m worried I might be overqualified.

Q – So will you write ‘clean’ song lyrics in future? Your songs are so technically good, you could make it in the ‘straight’ music biz. You could do The Voice or a Simon Cowell TV show or, yes indeed, Eurovision.

A – There’s millions of kunts out there writing clean songs. It’s very hard to stand out. Why do you think I was forced to forge a career out of singing about masturbation and paedofiddlia?! Furthermore, in case you hadn’t noticed, the TV talent shows are not for people like me that write catchy original songs and sing them in our own voices – more for perma-tanned twats warbling around the main melody of existing songs.

Q – Have you made useful contacts in the ‘straight’ music biz?

A – No

Q – Your final show is in London on November 5th. Seven days later, what will you be doing where, why and with whom?

A – Sitting on the sofa on my own, in my pants, watching Police Academy 7 on DVD.

Q – Describe your house. Where is it? – In a city? In the countryside? In suburbia? What is it like inside?

A – Is this fucking Hello magazine? I’ve got a square-ish house with a pointy roof on the upskirts of a town. It is the town where Depeche Mode are from and also Brian Belo from Big Brother. Inside there’s some rooms containing the usual furniture and in one room a bed along with piles of old posters and boxes of unsold CDs and T-shirts. (Note: Depeche Mode and Brian Belo came from Basildon.)

Q – Any unfulfilled ambitions?

Kunt’s Shannon Matthews The Musical

Shannon Matthews The Musical: a great loss to the West End

A – I’m gutted my Shannon Matthews musical didn’t make it onto the big stage. I always secretly believed Lloyd Webber would discover it and make us an offer. But he didn’t, the rubber-faced old posho.

Q – Who was she again?

A – Shannon Matthews was the 9-year-old daughter of ginger munter Karen Matthews, who unsuccessfully masterminded her fake kidnapping to try and cash in on the back of the Madeleine McCann bandwagon.

Shannon Matthews: The Musical is a full-length audio musical I wrote based on the case and then recorded with some mates from Huddersfield. It is my proudest moment, but sadly never got produced on the big stage. Fucksticks.

Q – What is going to happen now when you have all these great creative ideas and you have nowhere to use them? You will get creatively constipated, won’t you?

A – I haven’t really thought about what I’ll do for an outlet but, put it this way, I wouldn’t want to be my paperboy. I have been regularly frustrated on this tour stuck in fucking traffic. Currently it’s averaging out 8 hours in the car for every hour on stage. It’s doing my biscuit in.

Q – Was there ever a Gang?

A – When you’re in it, you know!

Q – Are there Kunt groupies when you are on tour?

A – Sadly, they are mostly sweaty mental balding men in their mid to late 40s. I meet loads of really smashing people but, in the last few years, I seem to have become like a flypaper for nutjobs.

Kunt on tour with Mike Gibbons - "my former manager, minor internet hit wannabe and dangerous loner"

Kunt on tour with Mike Gibbons, whom he calls “my former manager, minor internet hit wannabe and dangerous loner”

Q – Why do you think that has suddenly happened?

A – I think it’s just the law of averages. You meet thousands of people, so odds on there’s going to be a few fruit loops. They always seem to be more persistent and intense, though, giving the impression that there’s more of them than there actually are.

Q – Have you any baby Kunts at home or are you planning any?

A – I’m in my early 30s now so I guess at some point soon I might have to start thinking about that.

Q – Is there a Mrs Kunt?

A – Not a Mrs Kunt, but a long-suffering Miss Kunt. It’s been hard over the years to keep a relationship going whilst doing as many gigs as I have but these days you can just have a wank into FaceTime.

Q – So how are you going to financially support yourself, Miss Kunt and your potential mini-Kunts?

A – I don’t live a lavish celebrity lifestyle. I don’t dine at the Ivy. I dine at Harvester where you get unlimited salad with your main meal. At the end of this tour, I’ll have a dwindling pot of cash that gives me 9 months to work out what the fuck I’m doing next and make a go of it. Having failed at everything I’ve ever done apart from this it’s very likely there’s going to be a much anticipated ‘Cum-back’ tour…

Q  Any regret yet that you have announced your retirement?

A – Of course. I fucking love doing this. I love the gigs, meeting people and hearing about the time they soiled themselves and where they stashed their underwear after. But the time still feels right to knock it on the head, while I’m still enjoying it rather than waiting for it to all turn to shite.

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“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)

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Edinburgh Fringe: The trauma of a 5-star review & why I don’t like fauning

Extreme absurdism reaches The Times

Extreme 4-star absurdism has now reached even The Times

Maybe absurdism and ‘outa left field’ comedians are starting to make inroads into mainstream media consciousness. Even if I have no idea what ‘outa left field’ actually specifically means.

This week, definitively absurd Mr Twonkey got a 4-star review and near double-page spread in The Times, which (like Martha McBrier’s 5-star review in The Scotsman) had an immediate effect on audience numbers.

Then, yesterday, Lewis Schaffer got a 5-star review in The Scotsman. This too had an immediate effect. He sent me a text saying: “Feeling bad about it.”

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge Claire Smith, who wrote the review, told me: “Lewis is upset. He told me not to review him. I did it without telling him. So I said: Lewis, you’d better buy the paper. Now he’s in bits.”

Lewis Schaffer’s 5-star anguish

5-star anguish for coffee-stealing Lewis Schaffer

I told her: “He is bound to be upset. Five stars! His reputation is in shreds!”

Critic Kate Copstick told me: “Lewis Schaffer stole my coffee today. I was sitting at the Community Centre. He came out of his show with an entourage and I told him: I’m terrible sorry. I’ve heard all about it. I don’t know what Claire Smith was thinking of. If it had been me, I would have been kinder and not have given you more than 3 stars.

“Although he was obviously emotionally devastated by the review, he managed to quickly get it up… on his mobile phone, I mean… and let everyone around him read the review. It’s a lovely review, but he was so upset he started sipping my coffee – Oh! This is delicious! Just like American coffee! – and, because he was so distraught, I let him drink it all. He was chuntering on about the star-chasers who just go and see anything that has 5-stars.”

The star system for reviews also came up as a subject at yesterday’s Grouchy Club. Co-host Kate Copstick was scathingly against it. Two members of the audience staunchly defend it, on the basis that it was just quicker than reading the reviews.

Peter Michael Marino - six stars

Not a compilation show – a compilation review

Abigoliah Schamaun (as mentioned in a blog last week) has taken to putting stars on her posters from fictional publications. And Peter Michael Marino, whose show precedes The Grouchy Club, yesterday started putting ‘compilation’ stars on his flyers. He proclaims a 6-star review from Fringe Guru/Broadway Baby – on the basis that Fringe Guru gave him 3 stars and Broadway Baby gave him 3 stars. The combined quote of the 6-star review is Outrageous! Hitler!

He told me Fringe Guru had used the word Outrageous! in its review. So presumably Broadway Baby reviewed him as Hitler! I thought it better not to ask for details of the full quote.

After The Grouchy Club, I bumped into my comedy chum Janey Godley on the pavement outside The Counting House. She started raving to me about the joys of Comics and Graphic Novels: the shop next to the venue.

“In the very first week of the Fringe,” she told me, “I got really sick. I went in there, didn’t know them, but they let me lie on their couch and they had a random dog called Bonnie who jumped on the couch with me – Why wouldn’t he? – Then they all went away to get drunk – they’re a wee bit hippie – and forgot I was there and locked me in.

Janey points out her favourite shop

Where do you find a comedian in Edinburgh? In a comic shop

“So I was locked in the comic shop with ten minutes to go before my show – at the window screaming – with a dog barking and folk passing by who thought it was a show – Why would it not be? It’s the Fringe. Eventually, I got out in time and did my show with Bonnie the Dog at my heels. So now I can go in to the shop whenever I want and have a nap and I have coffee and tea in the back, sandwiches in the fridge and I have a dog to stroke. Now piss off. I have people to see.”

And with that, as Kevin Spacey said in The Usual Suspects, she was gone.

So I went to see Pat Cahill’s show Panjandrum, a bizarrely endearing mix of something, something and something. Not quite sure what. I think it was probably echoes of English Music Hall, a bit of absurdism and something indefinably original. There was a metal hat and a large bomb involved along the way. He had built the bomb himself.

Then came my worst nightmare.

I had been invited to see the well-reviewed and much-touted Follow The Faun but I think, somewhere along the way, I had failed to read the small print.

Faun and games for everyone except me

Faun & games for everyone except maybe me

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hate being part of anything where people do things in unison. I abhor community singing. I would have hated the Second World War. All that bleeding singing jaunty songs together. Anything where ‘bonding’ en masse is involved I loathe.

I hate dancing.

I am a fat slaphead of an unspeakable age. I am well past my prancing prime. But, even when I was in my teens and twenties, I hated dancing. I am not and never have been filled with any hint of an inkling of any desire to be joyful through moving in unison with other people and waving my arms and legs about. I would rather kneel in an orange jumpsuit for ISIS.

What I am saying is that, for me, Follow The Faun was an hour of torture. It involves going into a darkened basement room and following the dance moves of a satyr with large horns. It is a combination of 1960s/1970s hippie, trippy Glastonbury-type Acid-fuelled love-in, 1980s/1990s Ecstasy-fuelled Rave dancing and The Wicker Man with a lot of sexual miming and a bit of wannabe human sacrifice. You may think I am joking about that last bit. I am not.

I hated it. Though I am not averse to a bit of human sacrifice.

But…

I am not the target audience.

Everyone else – young, lively, outgoing people (mostly girls) in their twenties – LOVED it… They L-O-V-E-D it. Beaming faces, pogo-ing bodies, sweat pouring, occasional screams of joy.

London’s theatrical mask falls

This is not the figure of a graceful satyr used to joyful prancing

If you are an optimistic, outgoing, life-loving, youngish, Rave culture dance-loving lively person, go and take part in it.

If you are a grouchy fat male slaphead well over 35 who likes cynical endings to films and looks a bit like a bald, lightly-bearded Hattie Jacques… avoid.

More to my taste was the show I saw after that – the ever-dependable Frank Sanazi with his Iraq Pack – Saddami Davis Junior, Osama Bing Crosby and Dean Stalin. The full house at the Voodoo Rooms was packed tighter than a cattle truck and the audience was well-up for an hour of bad taste songs about mass murder and dictators in hiding – so much so that, when the subject of people on the run and in hiding came up, an audience member threw Madeleine McCann’s name into the mix.

You can’t beat a bit of continually-updated bad taste for a good Saturday night out in Edinburgh. And it is good to see ISIS and Tony Blair added in there among the Biggies of Badassness.

There is a Follow The Faun video on YouTube

… and one of Frank Sanazi, solo, singing his signature tune.

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Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, Dance

Frank Sanazi, hijab stripping and Jesus Christ flying in for Hitler’s birthday gig

Pete covers up a nasty spot on his neck Frank Sanazi

Pete covers up a nasty or potentially Nazi spot on his neck

This blog was supposed to be posted on 1st April, until I realised there might be a credibility problem if I posted it on that date.

I had a chat with Pete Perke aka Pete Sinclair aka Pete Cunningham aka Tom Mones aka Frank Sanazi. Frank Sanazi sings like Frank Sinatra but looks like Adolf Hitler.

“So,” I said to Pete,  “you are going over to Austria as Frank Sanazi to celebrate Hitler’s birthday.”

“Well,” he said, “Kulture Banane,  the Austrian boylesque troupe, have become massive in Austria and have asked me to go over and do my show Das Vegas Nights (Zis Time We Win) on 18th April, two days before Hitler’s birthday. Actually, I only recently realised that Hitler was born on 20th April, which is Aries. That would make him a genuine Arian.”

“They’re just boylesque?” I asked. “Not Nazi boylesque in short trousers?”

“Well,” said Pete, “one of the guys – he could be a woman for all I know – performs a hijab act which is basically strip burlesque.”

“You’ve played Frank Sanazi in Berlin, haven’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah. Five or six times.”

“How do they react?”

“The first time I did it, the crowd were a bit…”

“Stunned?” I suggested.

“Well, I was told they loved it, but you can never tell with German audiences. There’s not laugh-out-loud vocal appreciation. When I play to an older crowd in Germany, they can be uncomfortable-squirmy a bit, but the young crowd just find it hilarious. Time has moved on so much they don’t feel part of anything their forefathers did.”

The Awards Show was a rally for the middle classes

Frank Sanazi at the 2014 Malcolm Hardee Awards Show

“I suppose Hitler will never die,” I said. “Malcolm Hardee and I booked The Rockin’ Gorbachev on a couple of TV shows and, of course, his career died when Gorbachev got ousted. But you’re not just a one character act.”

“Yes, I’ve diversified,” said Pete. “I do a lot of straight singing and I have Frank Sanazi and Tom Mones (an old Tom Jones).”

“How is your Vladimir Putin act doing?” I asked.

“I’m not sure if he has legs,” said Pete. “Putin is still very ‘in’ at the moment. As long as he keeps in the spotlight, I’m OK. At the moment, I sing Ukranian Men (to the tune It’s Raining Men) But Crimea River (Cry Me a River) is an obvious follow-up. And then there’s Putin on The Blitz (Putting On The Ritz).”

“Are you doing him at the Edinburgh Fringe this year?” I asked.

“No,” said Pete. “This year I’ve got the Voodoo Rooms to take my whole Iraq Pack show. I’ve got Pete Storm playing Dean Stalin (Stalin singing like Dean Martin) and I’ve written a great song for George who’s going to play Osama Bing Crosby and Saddami Davis Jnr is singing Arranged Marriage to the tune of Love and Marriage:

Ar-ranged marriage
Ar-ranged marriage
To a woman called Fatima Mohammed
This I’ll tell you mother
She looks just like her brother

“I wrote a new song recently for Osama Bing Crosby. He said he needed a song on his own because we were just doing a duet:

I have heard to the Taliban
You are now a forgotten man
Well, dead Jew ever
What a swell party this is

“So I wrote him:

How unlucky can one guy be
They shot her, then they shot me
Like the New York Times said
Ain’t that a shot in the head?

“I’ve never,” I said, “heard you ever talk about getting bad reactions from audiences.”

A singing Hitler - Less offensive than a dead Elvis

A singing Hitler – apparently less offensive than a dead Elvis

“I used to do an act called Dead Elvis,” Pete told me. “I used to come out of this coffin in a mask with worm holes cut out and I did send-up songs: Are You Hungry Tonight? (Are You Lonesome Tonight)… and The Burgers Went Straight To My Heart… those sort of songs. And I got more stick for doing that than I ever have for Frank Sanazi. Because people love Elvis so much they treat him like Jesus. I stopped doing that act because I was getting so much grief for it.”

“And you’re trend-proof,” I said. “because you play the comedy circuit, the cabaret circuit and the fetish circuit.”

“Yes,” said Pete. “There’s a Festival of Sins show this Saturday, a new fetish night. It ran before, five years ago. It was always overshadowed by the Torture Garden but Festival of Sins was possibly the second biggest in London – run by a guy called David de Vynél and he’s re-kickstarting it. It went tits-up when he married the woman he ran it with.”

There is a clip on Vimeo from the Festival of Sins show in 2010.

“I performed at his wedding and the wedding cake was an entire woman just covered in cake: you had to eat the cake off the top of her. It was very well-presented. This guy turned up – the best man – completely stark bollock naked. All he wore were a couple of little bits of tinsel round his penis and a couple of baubles for balls. And he had a massive dong – I think that’s why he went round naked.”

“Just to annoy people?” I asked.

“Mmmmm….,” said Pete.

“I went to one Torture Garden years ago,” I said. “I blogged about it.”

“I remember one Torture Garden,” said Pete, “where there was a guy in a cage and he had a Superman-style cape on and nothing else and he was peeing on people as they walked past. The other thing they had was like an iron lung from Barbarella with perspex over it, so you could put your hands in the gloves and feel whoever it was inside.

“And you know those things they have in Post Offices? Big thick latex things that hang down. I think they do it for health & hygiene. They have them in abattoirs – almost see-through plastic that you can push our way through…”

“Your local Post Office,” I said, “is more interesting than mine.”

“Well,” said Pete, “they had these people just chopping meat up. They had carcasses of sheep. I don’t know how they got away with that, because blood was spattering over everybody as they were going through.

“A couple came in when I was performing- I only knew they were a man and woman because of their size and shape. They had full Nazi outfits on and full gimps masks with zips so you could just see their eyes. They sat right in front of the stage when I performed, watched me for about 25 minutes, then stood up, clapped their gloves together and walked out. It was the most surreal thing.”

“Who else is on the bill with you for the Hitler birthday gig?” I asked.

“Jesus Christ is flying over from Glasgow,” said Pete.

There is a clip on YouTube of Frank Sanazi singing Strangers On My Flight.

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Chris Dangerfield on Dapper Laughs: the victim of class prejudice & jealousy?

A selfie of Chris Dangerfield “hard at work"

A selfie of Chris Dangerfield “hard at work”

In my blog yesterday, comedian Lewis Schaffer gave his view of the recent kerfuffle about ‘offensive’ and ’sexist’ comic Dapper Laughs whose career appears to have imploded after criticism from the media and other comedians.

A couple of days ago, while he was picking a lock (that is true) comedian Chris Dangerfield told me he was angry about several things.

So I had a chat with him yesterday.

Basically, like setting off a firework, I started it off then stood well back.

WARNING: As this is a blog involves Chris Dangerfield, some people may find the language and opinions offensive. If this is likely, then do not read it.

“How are your armpits?” I asked.

“I use that Magnum 24 Hours,” Chris told me. “Look, I don’t know what it’s called. Mitchum? It just stops your body functioning normally so you can’t get rid of all the toxins that will poison you and your body doesn’t smell for years. And, when you don’t bath ever, like me – Don’t put that in your blog. I’m actually very good at bathing. But it’s a heroin thing. The feeling of water on your skin is not that good.”

“Why’s that?’

“I dunno. Odd, though. It’s almost alright once you’re in, but getting out is a bit prickly. The water’s just unwanted.”

“So,” I said, “at the moment, some comedians are talking about forming their own trade union and having people sign a Code of Conduct.”

“I got into comedy for a love of performance,” said Chris, “for a love of challenging things, for some kind of dissident voice in a world where there aren’t many left. And now comics are policing comics. All those fuckers that signed that fucking thing. Half of them ain’t even comedians. Who are these people? They’re blatant opportunists. Oh, I’ll sign it! I’ll sign it to be on the same list as some other Nobody comic! Jesus! It’s all bullshit! It’s an awful, awful situation.”

“I think originally,” I said, “it was because people were pissed-off because they were not being paid by Jongleurs, but now this ‘code of conduct’ thing has got muddled-in with the Dapper Laughs thing. Did you read my blog today where Lewis Schaffer talks about Dapper Laughs?”

Chris Dangerfield

Chris Dangerfield is always very clean

“Comedy is almost the last free speech,” said Chris. “It’s an interesting framework. Once you label it ‘comedy’ you can kind of do anything… But these fools recently who had anything to do with that whole censorship thing.”

“What?” I asked. “Dapper Laughs?”

“Yes. They’re doing the dirty work of comedy’s biggest enemy.”

“Which is?” I asked.

“Censorship,” said Chris. “Comedians play with language. Comedians play with morality. They can play with what’s right and what’s wrong. They can turn it on its head. That’s what we do. It’s an amazing, exciting thing. It’s certainly what got me involved. And suddenly they’re all twits.

“Look, I don’t give a shit about the bullshit personal private greedy agendas of these liberal fucks who draw arbitrary lines to serve their own agendas – and that’s what they’ve done. That’s why they’re not talking about Russell Brand, Doug Stanhope, Bill Burr. But Dapper Laughs – some working class shitbag from nowhere who has said a couple of pretty unfunny things – he’s a target. He hasn’t said anything anywhere near as ‘bad’ as any of that other lot. I don’t care what they say, myself. I love it. But, if you look at the criteria these people have used when talking about Dapper Laughs, then these people – Brand, Stanhope, Burr – are far ‘worse’. It’s all bullshit.”

“But,” I argued, “Dapper Laughs telling the woman in the front row of the audience that she was ‘gagging to be raped’ is way beyond acceptability.”

“Why?” asked Chris. “Did you see the clip? If she had seen his material and chosen to go to that show, there is a certain expectation. In context, it’s fine. Absolutely fine. A comedian can’t offend anyone. People offend themselves. How do you offend someone? If there was an objective ability to offend, the whole world would be offended by things. The reason why one person can be offended while another person isn’t is because offence is in the ears of the beholder.

“I could give you ten or twenty comics who have said things along the same lines as that, but they are not getting attacked because there is the elephant in the room here about class. And the massive jealousy that Dapper Laughs had not ‘earned’ his TV series and his success because he just became famous through a technology (Vine on the internet) that other people have failed to use in the same way. It’s a disgrace. It is so disappointing.”

Sex With Children poster

Chris Dangerfield’s Sex With Children poster at the Edinburgh Fringe billed “anus, star-wars, anus, bum, frenchman, anus, magician, willy, switchblade, anus, boy, conductor, anus, lobster, bum” – and still some people who went to see the show got offended and walked out

“At the Edinburgh Fringe,” I said, “you had walk-outs in your Sex With Children show which none of us could understand given the title, the poster and the publicity.”

“It’s the same as Dapper Laughs,” said Chris. “This selective understanding of his act. “If you watch the Vines, there’s this massive homosexual undercurrent.

“He will talk to a woman in the street and then turn away and say I want cock in my bum as if he can’t hold it in, as if he’s got these desires and they over-run his heterosexual desires.

“And that’s not once or twice: it’s frequent, this homosexuality. And also his failure with women. He is a failure; he doesn’t do well with women. That’s the main thread of the Vines. None of that gets talked about.”

“But,” I started to argue, “his critics would say…”

“They’re opportunist cunts,” said Chris, “and I hate them all and they have made me SO disappointed. Comedy in this country was shit, but now it is shit and celebratory in its sense of shit. I would have thought an act that puts you in the position of the male gaze – for all its stupidity and ignorance – is essentially feminist and yet everyone is Nweugh Nweugh Nweugh complaining about it. Why aren’t they complaining about Russell Brand, Jim Jefferies, Doug Stanhope, Sarah Silverman? They’ve all offended people.

Vonny Moyes. She’s a writer. She writes for The Skinny. Done a lovely interview with me. Done a lovely review of my show. But, when Dapper Laughs pulled his show and was bullied on Newsnight where they were quoting bits of his show out of context and the poor lad looked like he was going to start crying, I put on Twitter: Oy! Dapper. If you’re jacking that character, I’ll have it. And Vonny Moyes said: It’s not so funny when you’ve been on the receiving end of rape. 

“Well, actually, I have. I have. And that’s nothing to do with the debate. People have been on the receiving end of war. I don’t see these people moaning about war jokes, of which there are millions.

Dapper Laughs - “dead in the water"

Dapper Laughs – Is he a working class hero unjustly censored?

“The whole Dapper Laughs thing has been opportunist at best. People like that prick Xxxxx Yyyyy has seen something and got jealous because he’s a failed, shitty comic who had an awful TV show. Everyone thought it was crap; it was rubbish. He saw Dapper Laughs’ show and was jealous and thought: How can I get part of this? Oh, I know, I’ll complain about it.

“Who is he to tell all these people – these millions of people who found Dapper Laughs funny – that they’re wrong. And then some cock from the Huffington Post is saying: We should not have banned this show. We should have used all his followers and educated them.

Them? Them? What? He means people he thinks of as working class idiots. Well, they don’t want to be educated; they want to be made to laugh. They didn’t go see Dapper Laughs as part of their schooling. The cheek of it! Fuck you! I was angry. Now I’m just disappointed.”

“You are getting more mellow with age,” I suggested.

“It must be the quality of the smack I brought back from Cambodia,” said Chris Dangerfield.

… TO BE CONTINUED …

The Newsnight interview with Dapper Laughs is on YouTube and includes clips from both his ITV2 series and his live stage show.

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Lewis Schaffer on Dapper Laughs + how to make an offensive joke acceptable

I have blogged about the Dapper Laughs controversy before. It is too complicated to explain again, but you can pick up the gist on Wikipedia if you have to.

There is also a compilation video of Dapper Laughs material on YouTube

Comedian Lewis Schaffer – an American based in the UK – once got a review at the Edinburgh Fringe from a young, inexperienced reviewer. It said his act was ‘mildly racist’. Lewis Schaffer has always said this review was one of the worst he has ever received because of the use of that horrible, horrible word – ‘mildly’.

“Who wants to be mildly anything?” he says.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Lewis Schaffer perform at The Establishment Club in London and, in the evening, saw him perform at his regular weekly show at the Leicester Square Theatre.

At The Establishment, gay acts Scott Capurro and Dickie Beau were on the bill and stayed around to watch him. Lewis Schaffer’s act was relentlessly about gay people. In the evening, almost everyone in the audience got ‘picked on’ for being gay or Scottish or (in one case) coming from the Indian sub-continent – which translated as being a Palestinian Islamic extremist, despite the fact the guy said he was a ‘Christian atheist’.

Both shows were very funny.

After the Leicester Square show, I had a chat with Lewis Schaffer.

Lewis Schaffer at the Leicester Square Theatre last night

Mild Lewis Schaffer at the Leicester Square Theatre last night

“The attitude of people in this country at the moment,” he said, “reminds me of America during the Vietnam War – how excited everyone was about everything. There was a heightened level of awareness and movement.”

“I think we’re just as lethargic as ever,” I said.

“No, I think there’s a big difference,” said Lewis Schaffer, “between now and even five years ago. People now get into arguments over the slightest possible thing.”

“That is just you being argumentative,” I said.

“No,” said Lewis Schaffer, “it’s other people being argumentative – like what they did to Dapper Laughs. Whether what Dapper Laughs said was good or bad, I think the reason other comedians picked on him was because they were jealous of him: that he had not worked his way up through the ranks, that he called himself a comedian.”

“Well,” I said, “he needed a manager to control what happened.”

“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he needed someone to take the flak for him. He rose too high and he fell too fast.”

“But he was a one-off,” I said. “He was just not experienced enough to deal with it.”

“He had a TV series, a tour, an album,” said Lewis Schaffer. “He had everything. The question is What does he do now?

Dapper Laughs - “dead in the water"

Dapper Laughs – is the presenter’s career “dead in the water”?

“He’s dead in the water,” I said.

“Do you think he ever has a chance making it back in the comedy business?”

“Not for five or six years,” I said, “by which time he will be perceived as being from a previous generation of performers.”

“And,” said Lewis Schaffer, “at that point, he’s not going to be interesting to anybody.”

“Yup,” I said. “He tried the best he could by going on Newsnight and saying Oh, I’ve killed off the character – to make it seem like there’s a distinction between him and Dapper Laughs. But it was too little too late.”

“It’s similar to what happened to Andrew Dice Clay in America,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“He just seemed to disappear from the radar,” I said.

“Well,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he rose very fast as well. He was on MTV and making movies and things and then people heard what he was saying. He saw himself as a joke but his audience was taking him seriously. He was a skinny Jewish guy from Brooklyn and he was playing it as a tough Italian.

“And,” continued Lewis Schaffer, “he was on the Arsenio Hall TV show, (there is a clip on YouTube) explaining everything and he starts crying. He destroyed his own career by crying on TV.”

Andrew Dice Clay seemed indestructible

Andrew Dice Clay. He seemed indestructible

“Why was he crying?” I asked.

“He was under a lot of pressure with people hating him. He didn’t want people to hate him. He was a comedian. As soon as he cried – forget it – he lost his core audience. They didn’t want to see some supposedly tough guy crying.”

“What happened to him?” I asked.

“He still performs but he’s never reached the level of success he had. He’s done some acting – I think he was in a Woody Allen movie.”

I laughed out loud.

“He also did a DVD of a comedian basically being unprepared and self-destructing on stage.”

“He’s stolen your act,” I said.

“With me, hopefully,” said Lewis Schaffer, “there’s some kind of ending where it all comes together and we all have a good time. I think he was told at the time You can’t release this DVD and he released it anyway.

“It’s fascinating in this business what happens when people turn on you – what happens in life when people turn on you. It’s like The Bonfire of The Vanities scenario where the guy is a Master of The Universe one day and the next day he’s running for his life.”

Fatty Arbuckle - or Michael Barrymore?

Fatty Arbuckle – or is it Michael Barrymore?

Michael Barrymore was Fatty Arbuckle,” I said. “As far as I understand it, Fatty Arbuckle had three trials, was found innocent of rape and manslaughter – he didn’t do it, but his entire career was destroyed. He had just organised a party. And, as far as I’m aware, no-one has ever said Barrymore was in any way directly responsible for the death of the guy in the swimming pool. He just hosted a party in a rambling house where something happened. But his career was destroyed.”

“What interests me,” said Lewis Schaffer, “is how do people deal with being idolised one day and being persona non grata the next? I find that really fascinating. The question is What is going to happen to Dapper Laughs?

“He won’t have made that much money,” I said. “One series on ITV2 and a first tour.”

“The point is,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he’s the kind of person who’s doing anything for a laugh. He’s not political; he’s not motivated; he’s not a misogynist or racist; he just wants to be famous and he picked the wrong thing to be famous over. Now he’s thinking: Holy shit! I made a mistake here! It’s not that I agree with what he did or said – I don’t even know exactly what he did or said.”

“I don’t think it was the TV series that did for him,” I said. “It was the comedy club show. Telling a woman in the front row that she was ‘gagging for a rape’. That was way over the top. That was way beyond acceptable.”

“It’s too extreme,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but I imagine he meant it as a joke.”

“I think maybe,” I said, “he just lost control of the character. He was thinking through the character’s mind and lost objective control of what he was doing.”

“He wasn’t experienced enough,” said Lewis Schaffer. “After a while you know what you can and cannot say. He didn’t have that experience and the other comedians turned on him. Well, they don’t even consider him a comedian because he hadn’t done open mic spots or been on a road trip for some agency.”

Jimmy Carr at the 2006 Malcolm Hardee Show

Carr at the 2006 Malcolm Hardee Show (Photograph by Warren King)

I told Lewis Schaffer: “When I staged a five hour Malcolm Hardee show at the Hackney Empire in 2006, I had three comperes for the three parts and, because of their availability, I had to have Jimmy Carr and one of the hosts in the first part. I scheduled Jimmy Carr as the last act in Part 1. Then the compere of Part 1 – who wasn’t available for Part 2 – said he would not introduce Jimmy Carr because he had just done that joke about gypsy moths which had got him a lot of flak. So I had to move Jimmy Carr to the first act of Part 2 because he wasn’t available later.”

“What was the gypsy moth joke again?” asked Lewis Schaffer.

The male gypsy moth can smell the female gypsy moth up to seven miles away – and that fact also works if you remove the word moth. Which is a clever joke.”

“No it isn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer. “It’s not nice to the gypsies.”

I laughed: “Your entire act is based on insulting people. That gypsy moth joke is very well-crafted and, said, in Jimmy Carr’s cynical, throwaway persona I’m sure it was very funny. I never actually heard him tell it, so I don’t know.”

“It IS a well-crafted joke,” agreed Lewis Schaffer, “but the problem is it’s not making fun of the audience or making fun of the audience for believing that gypsies smell. The point is you can’t tell that joke to an audience of non-gypsies. I think Jimmy Carr is hysterically funny but that joke is inappropriate.”

“But you’re always insulting your audience,” I said.

Lewis Schaffer after last night’s show

Lewis Schaffer advice after last night’s Leicester Square show

“If he had an audience of gypsies and he made that joke right to their faces,” said Lewis Schaffer, “that’s OK… In my gig at The Establishment Club this afternoon, I didn’t do any race material. I never do black material unless there are black people there.”

“You’re right,” I admitted. “I suppose I could tell an anti-Semitic joke to you because you’re Jewish and that would be OK, but it would not be acceptable to tell it to…”

“…a room full of Nazis,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“Though I might make good money.” I said.

“You might make some money,” agreed Lewis Schaffer, “but you shouldn’t do it. That’s the point.”

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