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Lynn Ruth Miller says Amsterdam is not all about marijuana and prostitution…

Lynn Ruth Miller arrives at Schiphol Airport

Lynn Ruth Miller (86 years old physically; in her twenties mentally and creatively) is an American comic and burlesque performer living very happily in London. But she has been off on her travels again, performing in Amsterdam. 

Here she tells all…


Everyone thinks Amsterdam is all about marijuana and prostitution, but that isn’t the way it is for me these days. It could be because my estrogen has flown the coop or I am so small they don’t notice me but my Amsterdam experience is like a warm, fluffy blanket. I always feel like I have just flown into a cozy cloud of senior love even before I land in Schiphol.

While I was waiting for my plane, I met Fred, a man from the south of the Netherlands who does publicity for theatres. He offered to charge my phone but I am a very proper lady and I do not plug into strangers until I am confident I won’t get a shock.  

However, we did have a spirited conversation about Dutch theatre and love. Fred told me why he married his second wife. I asked him why they couldn’t just live together until one or the other of them got bored and he said: “When you love a beautiful woman, (I realized immediately that I was out of the running… but I was still curious) you are so proud that she loves you back that you want to show her off to all your friends and say You see? This gorgeous creature wants only me!

I have to say that was how it was with my father and mother.  

My daddy was a very homely man – short, and stocky with a bad complexion and horn-rimmed glasses. My mama was exquisite. She was a tiny redhead with sparkling blue eyes and she was built like a brick shit-house.  

When my father took her out to a movie or to someone’s home for dinner, he wore my mother like a jewel.

Listening to Fred’s defence of marriage clarified why my two husbands left me so quickly. Obviously, if you are stuck with a dreamy idealist who is flat chested and clomps around the place in sensible shoes, you want to hide her under the carpet as soon as possible.

But I digress.

On the plane, I chatted with Emma who is from Paris, studying economics at UCL in London. She and I bonded over our cream cheese and spinach (that is what the label SAID was in that little sandwich; although it tasted like nothing at all to me) because Emma has a dog named Balthus, a beautiful Jack Russell mix. I am confident that I will be occupying her Parisian guest room in the spring. Oui, in effet.

I understand her bathroom is equipped with a luxury bidet and a hot tub big enough for two. I am thinking Balthus and me, of course… not that I would refuse her father. French men are quite an experience, so I hear.

Amsterdam: “I felt like a miniature Lilliputian among a horde of blonde giants.” (Photograph by Sávio Félix via Unsplash)

As soon as I disembarked from the plane, I felt like a miniature Lilliputian among a horde of blond giants. The average height of a Dutch gentleman is well over 6 feet and the women are all about 5’7”.  

I am now 4’10” and I spend all my time in Amsterdam staring at belt buckles while I make scintillating conversation (in English of course).  

If I am particularly witty (which is all the time) I am often aware of a visible male reaction… and THAT is surprisingly rewarding for me.

I got a cab to take me to my lodging. And that was when I met Mustafa.  

Mustafa’s father escaped from Afghanistan when he was a little tyke of eight years old. His daddy hid out in another country, but he sent Mustafa, his sister and his mother to Amsterdam and followed a couple years later.

Everyone always thinks people who are granted asylum are hysterically grateful for being granted a safe haven in a benevolent foreign land, but we are wrong. Mustafa told he how terrified he was moving to a city filled with tall, blond people he couldn’t understand, who made fun of little brown boys. His mother couldn’t find the foods that comforted him because she had no way of communicating what they were to the local grocer.  

And the weather was abysmal.  

In January, the weather in Holland is a wet, rainy 36 degrees Fahrenheit while in Mustafa’s hometown in Afghanistan it was always a sunny 44.

I was staying in Edo Berger’s guest house this trip.

Nina, Edo’s beautiful wife, met me at the door with Doris, their 14-month-old daughter. The two decided to name their daughter Doris because they wanted her to be able to spell her name. They wanted to keep it simple – only 5 letters. After all, one never knows how intelligent one’s offspring will be.   

They need not have worried about Doris, however. At 14 months, she carries on an only slightly unintelligible conversation, expresses her opinions vociferously and crawls with great energy into toilets, cupboards and under tables.

Nina is an abortion doctor and we discussed the strict limiting laws against abortion in some of the American states.

She explained abortion is not an issue in Holland because anyone can have one whenever they please. However, she recalled when her clinic had to close for a couple months and she read about a woman who had hanged herself.  

“I am pretty sure she was one of my patients,” Nina said.

It was Anna Quinlan who said: “When men legislate for women’s bodies, the coat hangers come out.”  

So do the ropes.  

Take heed all you men who think you know best about a woman’s right to give birth.

That night I was booked to headline at Mezrab, a wonderfully vibrant club in Amsterdam and Mustafa drove me there. He even walked me to the door and, as we made our way together, I thought: Here we two are, a Muslim and a Jew, who just love to be together sharing stories. 

Listen up, Israel and Palestine.

International comedy line-up at the Mezrab club, Amsterdam

Mezrab is a crowded, exciting place to perform comedy.

Their line up is always diverse.  

This time, they had Aidan Killian from Dublin, Henrik Elmer from Sweden, Raul Kohli from Manchester (a foreign country to me) and Jia Yuan from China, now living in Amsterdam.   

On Sunday afternoon, I met Mikaelia a comedian who is originally from Detroit. I was born a mere 40 miles away in Toledo, Ohio, a town that borders a dead great lake, Lake Erie. The town fathers there were so upset to have this polluted dead body of water on their shore that in 2018 they passed a law creating a Bill of Rights for the lake. They agreed that their residents were deliberately dumping garbage into the dead lake and letting objectionable creatures pollute it.

Would that they would pass a similar law for their politics.

Ohio was one of the states that gave the world Donald Trump, a man one of my friends refers to as That Orange Turd.

Mikaelia and I went to the Amsterdam Affordable Art Fair and I was shocked at how different the art was there from the same fair in London.  

Although the London Affordable Art Fair is always very original and interesting, the one in Amsterdam had a completely different definition of what visual art can be.

There were many three dimensional pieces, many that used unusual optical illusions, a great deal of photography combined with paint and collage. It was a spectacular exhibition.

Comedy Cafe, Amsterdam: “always filled with tourists…”

But, in Amsterdam, the frosting on the cake for me is always my gigs at The Comedy Café run by Tim van’t Hul, a very capable comedian in his own right. He will be coming to London to make everyone here laugh at the beginning of January.  

His shows are always filled with tourists, which means I can do the same set over and over without boring anyone but myself. Sunday was especially good with a packed house and a lot of funny men on stage. Sadly no women in the line up except me and, at my age, I think I am more neutral.

My plane left on Monday and Mustafa drove me to the airport for my good-bye gift.  It was both beautiful and touching to share life experiences with this very young man who had endured far more trauma in his life that I have yet to see, yet is so generous with his time and so kind to old ladies.  

In many ways, our friendship should be an example of what can happen in this angry turbulent world of ours to make it a more comfortable place to live. Recycling isn’t the only way to make our lives better.

The plane was an hour late. Evidently, KLM has a problem with timetables. I am guessing their schedule is Jewish.

I did arrive home in London in time to have two very lovely men cook me a vegetarian dinner.

I now have two blissful weeks in London basking in the autumn downpours and debilitating winds, until I hurry off to sunshine and political unrest in Southeast Asia.  

The bug spray has been purchased and I am so ready to sweat.

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Comic Richard Coughlan on the drugs, Doug Stanhope and the death threat

Richard Coughlan: an anti-white PC mangina

Richard Coughlan: really an anti-white PC mangina?

In yesterday’s blog, I was talking to comic performer Richard Coughlan.

That conversation took place in the Soho Theatre Bar.

This can be a bad place to have chats, because other comics have a tendency to come across and sit down to chat with you in the middle of the blog chat. Thus it was with my Richard Coughlan chat.

Malcolm Hardee Award winners Ellis and Rose wandered over and sat down.

Another problem is that now, in this blog, you have to pay more attention when you read it, because it includes Richard (Coughlan) and Rich (Rose).

“We were talking about A Man Called Horse,” I told the two interlopers.

“Eh?” asked Rich (Rose).

“Are you so young you haven’t even heard of A Man Called Horse?” I asked.

“I did a hook-suspension thing,” explained Richard (Coughlan), “where they put the hooks through your back.”

Ichi The Killer?” asked Rich.

“You see,” Richard told me. “That’s the reference you want for the young people: Ichi The Killer.”

“A man is suspended and tortured in it,” explained Rich.

“How much pain is there?” Ellis asked Richard (Coughlan).

“It’s impossible to describe how it feels,” explained Richard. “It’s so intense. It’s like this combined feeling of intensity with the fact you know you can’t go anywhere because your feet are off the ground. So you just hang there and take it and all your endorphins kick in and the adrenaline. There is no sort of pain you can relate it to.”

“Is it like hitting yourself repeatedly in the face with a blender?” I asked, referring to the Malcolm Hardee Award winning stunt in which Rose punched Ellis repeatedly in the face to pretend he had been beaten-up by an irate audience member and thus get publicity for their Edinburgh Fringe show.

There is footage of the stunt on YouTube.

“It was a milk whisk,” said Rich, correcting me. Then he mentioned to Richard: “I saw your Eat a Queer Foetus For Jesus show at the Edinburgh Fringe two years ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

“I always put as much effort into the title of my show as writing the show,” said Richard. “The first show I did ever was Honky-Hating Heterophobic Man Whore. The whole show was about prejudice. My new show is similar: it’s Anti-White PC Mangina ACTIVATE! That was something I got called once online. I got called an anti-white PC mangina.”

Eat a Queer Foetus For Jesus,” said Rich, was weirdly moving.”

“Well,” said Richard, “The whole point of the end monologue, which is about my girlfriend having an abortion in 2006, is it’s supposed to peak in the middle and get the audience to a point where they hate my guts and I come across as a horrible, nasty shit and then I become so pathetic and worthless by the end of it that they actually feel sympathetic for me when I am shitting myself during a religious experience having been awake for seven days on the trot, off my head on drugs.”

“Am I right,” asked Rich, “that you were on heroin?”

“No,” said Richard, “I was never on heroin. I quit drinking when I was 22 but the only reason I did that was it was the most boring of all the things I was addicted to. There was the crack, the cocaine, the MDMA and the meth…”

“Methadone or methylated spirits?” I asked.

Richard Coughlan (left) with Rich Rose at the Soho Theatre Bar

Richard Coughlan (left) & Rich Rose at the Soho Theatre Bar

“Methamphetamine,” said Richard. “Speed is what it’s called over here, but this is like a stronger version of it. Everyone knows what it is now, because they’ve watched Breaking Bad.”

“Except me,” I said.

“At one point,” Richard continued, “there was an eighteen month period where I was addicted to all four. But, from what I don’t remember of it, I was still quite high functioning. I was working 50 hours a week. You have to: I had something like a £600-a-week cocaine habit. I have no idea how I managed that, because I was only making £300 a week. You get to the point where you think: What else can I sell? I’ve got the carpet and my kidneys left.

“But you stopped being addicted?” I asked.

“Yeah. I knocked them on the head when I was about 25/26. (Richard is now 35.) People still think I’m on them because they see me on stage and I’m manic and all over the place and they see how thin I am and think I’m still on stuff but, no, that’s how much I took: it’s still wearing off.”

“It’s quite interesting,” said Rich, “the way quite a lot of comedians have a history of drug abuse.”

“I don’t really care,” said Richard. “I don’t really care what other people are talking about. When I wrote the abortion routine… I started writing it in about 2008 and it was only in about 2012 that I was finally confident enough with it to get it done. Originally, it was a bit longer, because I had written all this other stuff about interaction I had had with pro-life groups and, six months after I had written but not yet performed it, I watched Doug Stanhope’s No Refunds and he does lots of abortion material and he did this joke that was almost identical to what I’d written.

Doug Stanhope

Doug Stanhope replied the very next day

“I was so unsure about my stuff – even though it was true – that I actually wrote to Doug Stanhope saying: Here’s a transcript of a joke I’ve written. It’s almost identical to yours. I’m worried about doing it because I don’t want people to think I’ve nicked it off you. What should I do?

“I thought: He’ll never get back to me, but he got back to me the next day saying: Oh, when I started, everyone thought I was ripping-off Bill Hicks because I did stuff about drugs. He said: If you want to do it, just do it. If anyone accuses you of ripping me off, you can just send them a copy of this e-mail.”

“What is quite interesting,” said Rich, “is that, when Doug Stanhope talks about that kind of thing, he does it very much to make a point whereas, when you do it, I must say, it is moving – Doug Stanhope is rarely moving.”

“Well,” said Richard, “I wanted to write from the experience that This is not really funny. This was not fun. This was horrific and it was a traumatic, horrible experience. But it’s funny

“I really like Stanhope’s stuff,” said Rich, “but when Stanhope talks about that kind of thing, there’s never a sense of regret. What made yours interesting was there was a sense of regret.”

“But I think, though,” said Richard, “that he takes it to such an extreme. He does that great joke where he goes: We only had an abortion. It wasn’t a frivolous reason. It wasn’t cos we weren’t financially secure. It was just cos we wanted to know what it felt like to kill a baby. I don’t think Doug Stanhope is the sort of act who can risk coming across as emotionally fragile. Whereas that’s me.”

“Sometimes though,” I suggested, “it’s best not to annoy the audience too much.”

“There was one guy,” said Richard. “who had never even been to one of my shows. He was an English Defence League member who sent me a message: When you’re in Scotland doing a gig, I’m going to come and fucking find you and kill you, So I sent him my gig list saying: This is where I’m going to be. Then someone sent me a PM saying You might want to be careful – with a link to an article in The Scotsman and this guy had been sent to prison for stabbing his girlfriend.

“So I told him: If you come. let me know in advance, because I can bring a camera so I can get filmed being killed on camera.”

“You could get £250 from You’ve Been Framed!” I said. “Well, your heirs would.”

“At the risk,” said Richard, “of sounding like a bitter and twisted old bastard about not being famous, if I can get someone to kill me, then people will think: Oh, he must have been brilliant. Let’s look at all his old shit on the internet. And suddenly people will find it much more poignant and they will think it was really important and I can become famous without having to do any more work. And the other thing is people will say: Oh, he would have been massive if only he’d lived. He had so much potential. 

“But, of course, I wouldn’t have. I would – I will – fuck it up like I always do.”

On YouTube, Richard talks some more about getting hate mail.

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