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In praise of fake endings in movies and added sequences in or after end credits

(There are no spoilers in what follows)

Rather belatedly, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

An absolutely wonderful film.

At the end of the screening, only three of us sat through the end credits in the cinema.

The rest of the audience missed the five – count ‘em – FIVE – extra bits of full-screen live-action scattered amid the credits.

I am enthusiastic about film-makers doing this. It is an added bonus for genuine movie lovers.

Frankly, if people walk out before the end of the movie, they deserve to miss out.

What they missed at the end: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

When I saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service on release in 1969, because audiences were so familiar, even then, with the techniques of film-making, about 20 people in the cinema walked out when the plot seemed to have been rounded-off nicely with James Bond’s wedding and there was a slow, rising and widening crane shot – a very normal end shot for a movie. By leaving before the credits had even started rolling, they missed out on the plot-changing coda to the film.

I have never been sure if this was or was not an intentional fake ending put in by director Peter Hunt.

Carrie – the 2nd most frightening sequence I have ever seen

The most famous intentional fake ending to a film (now almost de rigueur in horror films) is almost un-arguably Carrie (1976), where Brian De Palma, master of cinematic technique, with careful use of music etc, made the audience believe the main plot of the film had ended and then suddenly pulled out a shock from nowhere. I did not know there was a fake ending and saw the movie one afternoon towards the end of its run in London’s Odeon Leicester Square. I was sitting alone in the front row and there were maybe twelve people clustered in the back rows.

The original Night of the Living Dead – cheap but terrifying

When De Palma pulled the shock, there were multiple audible gasps and one shriek from the back of the cinema and – literally – I felt as if my blood had turned to ice. My blood ran cold.

Next to a particular unexpected shot in the middle of George A.Romero’s original Night of The Living Dead (1968) where those who have not seen it before almost always let out audible gasps, it is the most frightening shot I have ever seen in cinema. The bath scene in Les Diaboliques (1955) had little effect on me.

But, as well as admirable shock and fake endings, there is now a scattered genre of additional sequences at the end of films – Marvel have virtually annexed it as a house style, thus the FIVE additional sequences in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol 2.

Kong: Skull Island had this extra end-teaser plugging a sequel

The recent Kong: Skull Island (2017) had a surprise addendum teasing a sequel and even the Fast and the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean films have caught on to them.

Movies as far back as Airplane! (1980), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and American Gangster (2007) have used them fairly inconsequentially. At the end of Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) Richard Donner and Joel Silver blew up  an entire mega hotel for no reason. Just as a bonus, I suspect, for anyone who had sat through the credits. Good for them.

But I remember at least two addenda where the REAL ending of the film was missed by a large number if not most of the audience who just left when the credits started.

After the Young Sherlock Holmes‘ credits finish, there is a major plot revelation and someone raises an eyebrow

In Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), the film very definitely ended.

The credits rolled and then there was a long additional sequence which ultimately climaxed in a revelation about one of the central characters in the film which totally changed your understanding of what had happened.

L.A. Confidential (1990), has a relatively up-beat ending but, after the end credits have rolled…

L.A. Confidential: British TV viewers almost never see this end

…there are flash-forwards in the story which give the movie a much more cynical ending. I think I have seen it on British TV three times and, each time, the additional sequences have not been screened because, presumably, the people preparing the film for screening did not realise there was something else at the end in addition to the credits.

Returning to Guardians of the Galaxy, good old Marvel included a brief (unexplained) sequence with their character Howard The Duck in the first movie (2014).

Howard The Duck – appallingly buggered-up by George Lucas so he was nothing like the grouchy character of the comics

And, in Vol 2, he appears (again unexplained) in a brief sequence within the film itself AND within the end credits. I can only hope this means Marvel are, at some point going to make a movie of Howard The Duck, my favourite Marvel character who was mutilated and cutesified beyond belief in George Lucas’ vomit-inducing ultra-cuddly family-friendly film of 1986.

Maestro Stan Lee appears in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2

My hope rests on the fact that the final sequence in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol.2 has Marvel Comics’ maestro Stan Lee referring to all the other good Marvel characters he has created.

Howard The Duck makes Rocket Racoon seem like Mary Poppins.

Howard The Duck ran for President of the US in 1976. Maybe he should do it again…


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The sound of Puff The Magic Dragon and the end of Pear Shaped comedy?

At last night’s Grouchy Club, Kate Copstick (right) makes a shouty point to Sara Mason.

Copstick (right) makes shouty point to Sara Mason etc

Last night was the monthly Grouchy Club meeting in Shepherds Bush, London. There was a new attendee. This morning, she sent me a message starting: “What an extraordinary evening!”

“Not extraordinary at all,” I replied. “It was a fairly ordinary Grouchy Club… A bit of comedy, a bit of venomous slander, a bit of talk about sex (I am still unclear what specifically Italian BDSM entails – possibly getting tied up in complicated political knots and have knots) and a bit of shouting and a lot of gesticulating from Kate Copstick… All par for the course.”

Then I got an email about Puff The Magic Dragon.

At the weekend, on my social media, I posted a piece about Fox Animation’s plans to turn Peter, Paul and Mary’s song Puff The Magic Dragon into a hybrid live action/animated feature film to be made by Mike Mitchell, director of Trolls.

As a result, I got an email from Alan Shaw whom I know better as Al Mandolino, tunesmith to the Pear Shaped comedy club.

Alan Shaw aka Al Mandolino

Alan Shaw aka Al Mandolino contemplates tape manipulation

“Just saw your post,” he wrote, “and thought maybe (Malcolm Hardee Award winner) Becky Fury put you on to that. A couple of years ago she was getting stuff together for her Dragon Bubble show and she wanted to use a version of the Peter Paul and Mary song but the only cover she had was a hardcore thrash punk version which was going to be a bit oblique for the kids.

“So she asked if I could make something short as an intro to it, just to get them on side. So I came up with a ‘ jingle’. I decided any tune called Puff The Magic Dragon really needs to have the chorus playing backwards if it is going have any gravity. The banjo part is just one note and there’s some dragon breath. I was trying to make a version that sounded like it was science fiction medieval music. Here it is.

Alan told me: “Ask Becky if you want to know more.”

I had not got the Puff The Magic Dragon movie story from her, but I did ask her about Alan’s music.

Becky Fury, known for black clothes, goes clown

Becky Fury, known for black clothes, goes Clown

“Yes,” she told me. “I am going to use it for my new kids show – George and The Dragon. I am thinking of doing it at the Edinburgh Fringe next year. I have had it on the back burner for a while now. That I told you about. I tried to do it as a street show this year but it was too exhausting. I  devised ‘the script’ with input from Jon Richardson, who is doing his PHD in clowning! A PHD in clowning! What does that involve? A thesis on tripping over your own shoe laces? You and I chatted about it in Bar Italia. You might have forgotten. I remember you overdid it on the tiramisu.”

I asked Alan Shaw if he was going to the Fringe next year.

“I am expecting to take a nice Jazz guitar and portable amplifier to the Fringe,” he replied. “Hopefully Pear Shaped might be there so I will do the tunes I’ve always done at that, but I will also be looking for other shows where it would work with me playing while the audience come in/intervals/change-overs – or maybe someone wants some live music backing for a section of their show. I have been advised if I get a permit I could even play in the street.”

“Any news of Pear Shaped’s return to London?” I asked.

“Better ask Brian Damage,” he told me.

Brian runs the Pear Shaped comedy venue for years but had to leave The Fitzroy Tavern in London’s West End because it was being renovated.

The tavern, not the West End.

Brian Damage and headstrong Vicky de Lacy this week

Brian Damage & wife Vicky de Lacy – pair shaped

“Recently,” Brian told me, “I went to have a look at the new Fitzroy and hated it.

They have turned it into claustrophobic cubby holes and the people in those holes already look happy enough without us pissing them off with our comedy.

“There is another pub nearby which we thought could be a possibility but it is on a  separate floor (not a separate room) so I have kind of decided maybe that’s not suitable either. What made the Fitzroy special for us was the landlord Peter, who is a very nice man who gave us the room and left us to it for 15 years. I really cannot be bothered explaining to another landlord how comedy works, so I’m not really looking. I am not all that sure the comedy circuit needs Pear Shaped anymore. There are hundreds of them now. However, as Mr Micawber would say, maybe something will turn up.”

That was rather sad, so I asked Alan Shaw what he was doing now.

“I spend my days,” he told me, “doing painting and carpentry for the the great and the good. Recently, I have started a sideline as a rocking horse vet and I have learnt how to to paint for hours holding someone’s poodle.”

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Another severed foot washes up in Vancouver with Biker Bob’s ashes

Anna Smith on her boat, after a 90 kilometre per hour windstorm

Anna Smith on her boat – after a 90k storm

Another week, another missive from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent.

She lives on a boat in Vancouver.

This is what she tells us.

A busy week.

I had to go downtown for one reason or another every day this week.

On Thursday night, we had a 90 kilometre per hour storm which killed a woman by toppling a hemlock tree which crashed through her roof and onto her bed.

There has been heavy rain and flooding further down the delta. I think the flooding will get worse. I hope all the boats here don’t wind up on the road. There is a log on the riverbank on the other side of the wharf which weighs several tons. It was dislodged by a tugboat a few weeks ago and was floating ominously about. Then the flooding river put it back where it has been for the last hundred years. The logs and boats here are pickled by the particular combination of estuary salt and stagnant mud.

Another disarticulated foot in a trainer has washed ashore.

Also a bottle containing the ashes of a guy called Biker Bob keeps floating ashore on Vancouver Island.

Once ashore, people have been partying with the bottle, taking the ashes into Victoria for a beer, on motorbike rides etc… before returning the bottle to sea.

It keeps coming back though: three times so far. He really wants to party.

I met a young farmer from Manitoba on the bus. He was wearing a Wheat Kings jersey and was very talkative. His cell phone was broken so he was transversing the Fraser Delta in search of a part for his phone. I told him to try a huge building called The Crystal. The entire main floor of The Crystal is a Chinese market full of tiny specialist stalls including many mobile phone stalls and you can haggle over the prices. We talked about wheat farming here and in Australia. He wants to turn his wheat farm into a marijuana farm but it is difficult to get a licence.

I am going to be a panelist for Planned Parenthood on Friday. Here it is called Options for Sexual Health, so that people who plan not to have children do not feel excluded.

The next storm is just starting. The boat is moving in a jittery way. It makes a clinking sound when its fenders bump the dock.

I think I saw that man who was drowning last year walk by. He was with a woman his own age who was unfamiliar with this place. He seemed to be explaining things to her. Probably it is his wife. I hope he is not going to be going out on the river in that dinghy again.

This weirdness of this area is rapidly accelerating. Every day I see things I have never seen before.

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Gilded Balloon venue’s deal excretes on the spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe

Like Malcolm, a unique one-off

Publicity for the 2012 Hardee annual show

We hope to stage the annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show this year, as usual, on the final Friday of the Edinburgh Fringe – 26th August – but not in its normal venue of the Counting House Ballroom.

This is because, today, The Gilded Balloon (a pay-to-enter venue) has ‘poached’ The Counting House venue(s) – including the Pear Tree and Blind Poet – from the Laughing Horse Free Festival and so we are looking for a new venue in which to host both the increasingly prestigious (but now homeless) Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards and for the daily Grouchy Club.

I am saddened that the Gilded Balloon has taken this decision to poach three free venues. In a blog chat with me in 2012, Gilded Balloon venue runner Karen Koren said:

Karen Loren inside the Gilded Balloon

Karen Loren inside Gilded Balloon venue

“I did have another venue called The Counting House at the beginning of the 1990s. I named it The Counting House because that’s where they counted the money above the Pear Tree pub and that was around the time I gave up my full-time position as the PA to the Norwegian Consul-General in Edinburgh.”

But that link with The Counting House was over twenty years ago.

It in no way mitigates this new cynical and amoral move – that the Gilded Balloon has intentionally ‘stolen’ three existing venues painstakingly built-up over the last nine years by the Laughing Horse Free Festival – rather than find and build-up a profile for a new venue of its own.

It is a cynical and amoral move that is in no way in the spirit of the Fringe. And it echoes last year’s unforgivably venal and vicious move by the PBH Free Fringe in knowingly financially fucking-over acts in the Cowgatehead venue dispute. (Copious blogs about it last year.)

Wreaths on the hearse at Malcolm Hardee's funeral

Relevant wreath at Mr Hardee’s funeral

Ironically, when the shit hit the fans of Cowgatehead last year, it was the Laughing Horse Free Festival, Bob Slayers’ Heroes venues, Just The Tonic and The Pleasance pay venue who helped out the suddenly homeless acts.

Now The Gilded Balloon has shat on the Laughing Horse’s Free Festival and the acts already booked into the Counting House, the Pear Tree and the Blind Poet.

This cynical move is all the sadder because the first Malcolm Hardee Awards were presented at the Gilded Balloon, its owner Karen Koren staged a Malcolm tribute show at the Gilded Balloon in the year of his death and, at her own cost, she produced a Malcolm tribute video in the year of his death (2005).

As far as I am aware, the Gilded Balloon’s tenure during the Edinburgh Fringe at its Teviot building is still renewed on a year-by-year basis, so what they have done logically means that they could have no objection if other operators put in higher bids for the Teviot building at the 2017, 2018 etc Fringes.

Once you start shitting on people and fucking-over the spirit of the Fringe, the consequences can be incalculable.


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Unexpected? My blog’s top twenty hits

This blog is usually described as a ‘comedy’ blog.

Since I stopped writing it as a daily blog on 31st December, the number of hits it receives has remained fairly stable. In fact, it has increased slightly.

I thought it might be interesting to list the top twenty hits since I started the blog.

These are the top twenty hits from highest downwards, excluding hits on the homepage.

Remember that it is usually perceived as a blog about the comedy industry…

1 Jimmy Savile: The birth of a paedophile hoax on “Have I Got News For You”

2 Feminist female comedians agree there are different types of rape in Edinburgh

3 Krayzy Days – Why London gangster Ronnie Kray really shot George Cornell inside the Blind Beggar pub in 1966

4 How the Edinburgh Fringe is financed: the article which you cannot read in this morning’s edition of The Scotsman

5 What the taxi driver told me about the prostitutes and the criminal families

6 Jimmy Savile: the infamous “Have I Got News For You” transcript from 1999

7 The story two-faced Tony Blair/Bliar successfully hid from the British public

8 The quiet men: ‘Mad’ Frank Fraser, Malcolm Hardee and John McVicar

9 What the REAL Swinging Sixties were like – gangsters and police corruption

10 Why Chris Tarrant’s TV show OTT was taken off air – a naked Malcolm Hardee

11 The night comedian Julian Clary joked that he had “fisted” politician Norman Lamont at the British Comedy Awards

12 Asking a Glasgow gangster for revenge after an attack on a female comedian

13 The death of a UK boxer linked to the sadistic murders of prostitutes by serial killer ‘Jack the Stripper’

14 “I was there in the theatre that night” – The death of Tommy Cooper, live on TV

15 Two men ‘killed’ by the Kray Twins who were never killed and are still alive

16 Glasgow gangland enforcer William Lobban experienced The Glasgow Curse

17 Cabinet minister Chris Huhne and the convent-raised comedian

18 Krayzy Days – the Kray Twins, bombs, Monty Python and police corruption

19 Revealed – gay sex scandals of the rich and famous – and the Royal Family?

20 The death and life of comic Chris Luby


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“Happy to have a label at last and an explanation for my general weirdness”

Anna Smith on her boat near Vancouver yesterday

Anna Smith on her boat yesterday

This blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – former exotic dancer Anna Smith – was in hospital in 2013, when she was suspected of being a Marfan.

Marfans are usually long-boned and unusually flexible. 

Anna reminded me about this in an e-mail yesterday:

I have been happily identifying myself as a Marfan since 2013 – happy to have a label at last and have an explanation for my general weirdness and my ‘double ankles’.

Now it turns out that I don’t have Marfan after all, but some different yet-to-be-identified genetic aortic mutation. Supposedly the numbers of aortic mutants are increasing, but I think everybody must be a mutant in some way. We don’t reproduce exact copies of ourselves do we?

Joey Ramone was Marfan. But now I am having to adjust to not being one.

I watched a video of young Marfans being taught to dance, to improve their self esteem. The young Marfans sat on the floor in the ‘W’ position, just like I always have. My party trick (a good way to immobilize a crowded nightclub from the stage), is to kick myself in the head. Everybody freezes for a second and then they shout: “Do it again! Do it again!”

I can only do it with my right leg and sometimes I pretend to knock myself out and collapse to the floor. I used to be able to do this at will but now I can only do it on stage. It must be something to do with adrenaline. Last time I did it was when I was in Chicago, near the El Train loop, but I just kicked my head that time. I didn’t want to fall down in the street. I just did it because I was happy to be there.

Anna Smith, Chicago Virgin

“They put me on an elevated dias-like table. I was propped up”

Last year Derek Human, Head of Cardiology at the University of British Columbia, and some of his students and some genetics counsellors and nurses put me on an elevated dias-like examination table and I was propped up, wearing my hospital gown and I looked down as they asked me a lot of questions about exactly when and of what causes all my relatives had died. They took notes and smiled up at me encouragingly.

I was in the A&E again just a couple of weeks ago. They treat me like a movie star there because I survived an aortic dissection two years ago.

My family doctor told me: ”You are famous at St. Paul’s Hospital,” but I didn’t believe her till I went to Emergency last time. The nurse who admitted me stared and said: “I remember you.”

I didn’t know what she was talking about.

She explained that she had been working the day my aorta started ripping.

Since then, I don’t even have to show my identification. If I’m not feeling well, I just tell them: “My name is Anna Smith. Look me up.” They put a bracelet on me right away and put me on a stretcher. They put me right in front of the nursing station and attach all the monitors. I always enjoy it. Last time there were decorations of large paper candy canes swinging around above their desks.

Anna Smith is no stranger to the hospitals of Vancouver

“I enjoy being in the hospital at Christmas. It is so relaxing”

I enjoy being in the hospital at Christmas. It is so relaxing.

I lay there watching the candy canes swivelling around on their strings and wondered what they symbolised.

They seemed cheerfully at odds with the crucifixes.

Did candy canes represent something naughty? The stripes – Could that be something to do with barber shops? Maybe the red represented blood.

I looked it up on my phone. But No, candy canes weren’t naughty. They were meant to symbolise shepherds’ crooks. They were designed by German priests to keep children quiet during the lengthy Christmas masses.

The doctor on duty introduced himself as Dr Marsden. So I looked up the meaning of Marsden and then read a bit about Marsden Hartley. I knew he was a writer, but he also painted. I spent the next half hour looking at Marsden Hartley paintings, in between technicians adjusting the monitors and taking my blood. I asked my nurse – who was named Vince – if he was having difficulty because of the nursing shortage and he said Yes and that he had been assaulted a few months ago.

Then he went on to summarise the list of current patients for Dr. Marsden. There were six suffering from alcohol poisoning, a young woman overdosing on MDMA and a man who had become psychotic because of drugs he had taken.

They tested me for a few hours and then I lay there for a few more hours and then, just before dawn, the doctor told me I could leave. He told me that my heart was pristine and that my lungs were also pristine and that I could go home.

I thought ‘pristine’ was a strange word to use. How could anyone say that about me? I think he was trying to reassure me.

A rather fuzzy photo of Anna’s foot

A person of moral turpitude?

Last year, when I had a similar A&E experience, the doctor wrote on the discharge paper that I was ‘a pleasant woman’ and I was very surprised.

I asked: “Do you mean I can just go home now, with a piece of paper saying that I am pleasant?”

He said: “Yes.”

I got a holiday greeting from a team of activist lawyers in Chicago. They worked on my ‘case’ for free in October, helping make sure I was able to enter the United States for the sex worker summit, because the U.S.A. does not allow persons of moral turpitude into the country. One of their team members is named Nebula.

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Advice on Edinburgh comedy shows?

Performing at the Edinburgh Fringe

What is the point of having a blog if you can’t use it for blatant self-publicity?

In this week’s Grouchy Club Podcastcomedy critic Kate Copstick and I talk about the end of the comedy section in Time Out. The end of my daily blog. The last live Grouchy Club meeting. Performer Nina Conti joining a porn film set. Will and/or Sarah Franken deciding to teach satire. My suggestion that Copstick should teach how to be aggressive in a Scottish accent. Free Fringe boss Peter Buckley Hill’s thoughts on an award. More chaos at the Edinburgh Fringe. The dead owners of Cowgatehead. Plus Lewis Schaffer, Juliette Burton, Bob Slayer, Mark Watson… and it all ends with an orgasm from Copstick. 

But there is also this brief section in the 32 minute podcast:

Now I heard a rumour…


…Mr Fleming… that you were thinking of offering your services as a director for people taking shows up to the Edinburgh Festival.

Except, as we both know, a director doesn’t really do anything. So I thought the word ‘consultant’  might be vague enough.

Oh. Consultant.

For tax reasons, ‘Consultant’ is probably good as well.

Consultant. Yes. With your how many years experience? Thousands of years of entertainment in London Weekend Television and elsewhere.

Well, to be wholly truthful, it covers two centuries, doesn’t it?

Yes. And, to be fair, it looks like it’s taken its toll.

… on the industry.

So somebody could actually…

I did hear Time Out was closing its comedy section because it couldn’t actually compete with my increasingly prestigious blog.

Maybe they will open it again, now your increasingly prestigious blog is closing. But you could take anyone’s…

I can make them. I can break them.

…embryonic Edinburgh show and turn it into something very close to Lewis Schaffer, could you? that successful? Is that what you’re offering? I can make you Lewis Schaffer!

If I can make Lewis Schaffer successful, anything is possible.

Exactly. think what you could do for a talented person!… No! I don’t mean that!

Lewis Schaffer is still available at the Museum of Comedy until probably Monday. My influence is so great that I have actually made Lewis Schaffer a museum exhibit.

Yes… But, seriously, you’d consult on people’s shows and…

Well, the thing about me is that I’m not a performer, so you have to opt out of…

Well, I think you’re doing pretty well here, I have to say.

… but I am a keen observer of the scene…

And a seasoned producer.

A seasoned everything, yes – radio, TV, journalism, advertising. I’ve done them all. So I could give a… a… We haven’t thought this through as a marketing exercise, have we…

No, we haven’t.

I can give an objective view from years of experience of watching really awful acts. So, if anyone has a really awful act, I am very experienced in watching them.

Yes, that’s fantastic. You’re not going to judge. I think that’s what you’re saying.

I did, for a couple of years, do reviews for Chortle, the comedy website.

Did you?

I did. But I never liked it. You have to be honest if you’re reviewing and therefore you get hated by the comedians.

I know the feeling.

So my blog never actually criticised anyone, because I could pick and choose interesting people doing interesting things whom I admired and who were worthy of promotion and I could ignore any old trash. Although, admittedly, I have promoted Lewis Schaffer quite a lot.

Indeed… Now, I want you to answer completely honestly here, John. Would the fact that you are consulting on a show give it a better chance of winning the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards?

Ah. Now this is what’s worrying me. I haven’t actually thought this one through. One possibility is I say: If I consult for you, you can’t possibly win or be considered.

But all the kind of shows, surely, that would benefit from your particular and extensive expertise are exactly Malcolm Hardee type shows.

Exactly, yes.

I think we’d have to say that the Malcolm Hardee Award is just going to be my decision next year. Lovely. Job done.

The reality would be that, if I consulted on a show that was seriously considered for the Malcolm Hardee Award, I wouldn’t take part in the decision making.

The whole 32 minute podcast can he heard HERE.

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