Tag Archives: Bob Slayer

Critic Kate Copstick and the sexual alure of squeezing teenage boys’ acne spots

Kate Copstick recording the Grouchy Club podcast yesterday

Kate Copstick recording the Grouchy Club podcast yesterday

Yesterday, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club Podcast.

Subjects ranged from how to get early reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe to why stand-up comics are lazy and comedienne Janey Godley‘s promise to give Copstick macaroni pies throughout the four weeks of the Fringe in August.

But then conversation turned to comic Omar Hamdi, who currently has a case of facial acne…


Copstick
I used to love… I used to dream about having acne. I never ever had spots.

John
So you went out with boys who did have acne?

Copstick
I went out with boys… one particular boy who had amazing acne. I used to exchange sexual favours if he would let me squeeze his spots.

John
What did you do with the accumulated pus?

Copstick
Nothing. You clean it up. It’s no fun cleaning your face if there’s nothing… OK, it’s ugly, but there’s nothing to clean off. It’s like cleaning a floor. It’s much more satisfying to clean a floor if it’s really dirty. You think Whoa! That’s fantastic!

So – Normal face – That’s just normal – There’s no fun in cleaning it.

Face covered in pustules – You squeeze them, the pus comes out, you clean it up and – Look! – There’s a nice, clean, non-pusy face where, before, there was a pusy face.

John
So let’s say this sexually-attractive boy has, say, 20 spots on his left cheek. Did you squeeze one and clean off the pus. Or did you wait until all 20…

Copstick
No no no no no… In an ideal world, there’s a time… Did you not have spots, John?

John
I did, but I didn’t have a lady to squeeze mine.

Copstick
So what did you do?

John
I squeezed them myself. A lone life.

Copstick
I can imagine that. Talk us through it… Talk us through it… You’d be looking in the mirror…

John
I looked in the mirror, thought: That’s horrible; I wouldn’t have anything to do with that and… I don’t know if I did squeeze them. I don’t know what I did with them. It’s a long time ago.

Copstick
Cast your mind back.

John
It was the mid-19th century. I can’t remember at all.

Copstick
You must have… You must have… You can’t resist… It’s the catharsis. That’s the word. It’s a catharsis. Spot-squeezing is a catharsis.

John
I never had the urge to pop the poppable things in packing. It’s not a thing we Presbyterians do.

Copstick
Really?

John
It’s against God’s nature.

Copstick
Every time we sit here and podcast, I find out more strange things about you. You don’t like to squeeze spots…

John
No.

Copstick
You don’t pop bubble-wrap…

John
No. And I don’t like cheese.

Copstick
And you don’t like cheese… What do you do to relieve tension? Please don’t say Wank.

(LONG, LONG SILENCE)

John
I’ve got nothing to say, really.

Copstick
OK, fine. Back to squeezing spots… If you get the spot at the right point in its spotty little life, when you squeeze it, the pus is projectile.

John
So do you think Omar should actually pursue this as a way of audience interaction?

Copstick
He could auction off his spots.

John
Well, not his spots. His pus.

Copstick
Oh my God! Can you imagine if Bob Slayer could develop a really good-going dose of acne what he could do? The showbiz mileage Bob Slayer could get out of a face full of acne!

John
Bob Slayer is a large man who used to be a jockey, but he is a large man, especially for a jockey.

Copstick
I suppose his face is quite large. But, anyway, back to Omar. It could be end-of-the-show… A couple of nice young ladies, one on either side. (GASP) One on either side!… They race!… They race to squeeze the spots on each side.

John
It’s a TV game show.

Copstick
It’s fantastic!

John
It’s Friday night! It’s seven o’clock! It’s live from Norwich!

Copstick
Oh, wait wait wait wait wait… then he would only be able to do it on the first night, because I don’t think the pus would regenerate. Well, he could do it once a week. I have never had acne, but I assume it kind of regenerates…


You can listen to the full 28-minute audio version of the latest Grouchy Club Podcast on Podomatic and/or download that audio podcast from iTunes.

And you can watch the video version on YouTube.

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Yesterday was a good news, bad news day – from the Beatles to Cowgatehead

The Beatles musical at the Garrick Theatre

Beatles tribute musical at the Garrick Theatre

So yesterday, with performer Matt Roper, I went to see the Beatles musical Let It Be in London.

A man was handing out flyers to ingoers at the theatre for a Mozart concert. This was either very enterprising or very foolish audience targeting. Good news or bad news.

Afterwards, we went to Bar Italia in Soho and, as we were about to go in, performer Chris Dangerfield came out.

Chris Dangerfield & Matt Roper outside Bar Italia

Chris Dangerfield (left) & Matt Roper outside Bar Italia in Soho yesterday

“I’ve forgotten my keys,” he said, turning back to pick them up off a table.

“You run a lock-picking business,” I said. “Why do you need keys?”

He ignored this, I think valid, point and he and Matt Roper degenerated into conversation about Bangkok. I have only overnighted at Bangkok in transit. All I remember about it is that I was told a military coup there once failed because the tanks got stuck in the traffic jams.

As Chris left, he told us: “I’m off to get some ice cream.”

“Ice cream?” I asked. “What does ‘ice cream’ mean?”

“It means ice cream,” said Chris and left.

I said to Matt:

“I hadn’t realised Let It Be was just the songs. I assumed there would be a story, like the Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon.”

“I have never,” replied Matt, “been drawn to tribute acts and tribute shows. If I want to hear the Beatles, I’ll play one of their albums. I would rather go and see four musicians covering 1960s songs in their own way than just trying to be carbon copies. The trouble with that sort of show is the Beatles are so famous that… well, I know the casting of the musicians and actors and all those dynamics have to work and that’s kind of more important than what their faces look like. But I would not cast performers who look like other familiar figures. They got away with John and Ringo, but Paul McCartney looked like a young Kenny Dalglish and George Harrison, poor bugger, looked like Rose West, the serial killer wife.”

“The only trouble with the Kinks’ musical Sunny Afternoon,” I said, “was that the actor playing Ray Davies looked like Paul McCartney.”

Matt Roper at Bar Italia

Matt Roper phones Bob Slayer for a Download

“Do you know any strange acts?” Matt asked. He was trying to fill a spot at the Download music festival today which he himself was unable to appear at. He tried comedy/music chap Bob Slayer. This, too, was good news and bad news.

Bob Slayer, when Matt phoned, was already AT the Download Festival… but he was leaving.

The good news and bad news continued.

Comic Mel Moon phoned me.

Her Edinburgh Fringe problems have been sorted out.

But she is going into hospital on Sunday for a very serious 9-hour operation.

I left Bar Italia.

On my way home, passing through St Pancras station, I met Italian comic Giacinto Palmieri.

“Where are you off to?” I asked.

“I’m coming back from the British Library,” he replied. “I was reading about the philosophy of humour.”

“Because of your academic stuff?”I asked. “Remind me.”

“My search is about the translation of humour, particularly stand-up comedy.”

Giacinto Palmieri - an academic at St Pancras

Giacinto Palmieri – an academic at St Pancras

“Anything about nudity?” I asked.

“In Freud, of course,” said Giacinto. “Just as background knowledge, I am reading about the philosophy of humour. I found a good quote: Good wit is a novel truth as the good grotesque is a novel beauty.

“Said by?” I asked.

George Santayana.”

“Ah, Indian,” I said knowledgably.

“Spanish-American,” said Giacinto. “Before I went to the British Library, I was interviewing Francesco De Carlo, who belongs to Comedy Sans Frontières a group formed by Eddie Izzard.”

I had never heard of them.

I realised my finger was somewhere other than on the pulse of what was happening.

When I eventually got home, there was a message from Mark Davison, who quit the PBH Free Fringe yesterday on a matter of principle losing, as he thought, £800 in the process.

That had been bad news. This was good news.

“It’s been a busy day,” he told me, “full of messages coming in from Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

“I’ve had offers of guest slots and, more importantly, have accepted an offer from Darrell Martin to take a 9.00pm slot for my full hour’s show at Just The Tonic’s Just Up The Road venue for the duration of the festival – and to run it as a free venue.

Mark Davison has a bunch of friends

Mark Davison and a bunch of friends hope for genuine change

“I hope the whole thing has stirred something up that will lead to genuine change and performers being treated with full respect… and I hope Let It Be was good. Part of my show this year is Mr Susie doing an inappropriate ‘Jukebox’ musical, so I may need to see Let It Be myself to fine-tune what I’m planning.

“PS Mike Leigh also offered me a slot but this was at Frankenstein’s and I knew my show would not work there, for technical reasons. Still very much appreciated the offer though.”

I went to bed early last night and probably dreamt of bananas and Frankenstein and the Cowgatehead.

But, this morning, as always, I remembered nothing.

Except that Christopher Lee had died.

Or did he?

Is he one of the undead in his black Count Dracula cloak?

Life is probably like a bunch of bananas.

I have no idea why.

So it goes.

 

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Cowgatehead casualty Christian Talbot and his award-winning 13 y.o. daughter

Christian’s show was on at the Sligo festival

Christian’s show was on at the Sligo festival

Yesterday’s blog was yet another – surely this must stop soon? – about the chaos surrounding the Cowgatehead venue at this year’s upcoming Edinburgh Fringe.

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking via Skype with Irish comedian Christian Talbot in Belfast.

He told me: “There are a load of people – I was talking to them this morning – they’ve re-applied to the PBH Free Fringe and haven’t heard anything back and they’re waiting on Freestival stuff and it’s just… I mean, it’s really heartbreaking to… I know about ten or twelve people very personally, really good friends, who are… they just have no venue now… They’ve really become very, very disillusioned. They’ve all paid deposits on accommodation, they’ve all booked flights to Scotland which are now useless, they’ve paid for their entry in the Fringe Brochure – in some cases for two shows, which is £600. They really are… yeah… It’s not good… I wrote something for Chortle the other day about how the people who ARE over there this year can make it a bit better… But I don’t think the Fringe has come out of it really well…”

Christian Talbot (centre) with his award, me & Kate Copstick

Christian Talbot (centre) with his award, me & Kate Copstick

Christian and his now 13-year-old daughter Kate won an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award last year.

“Kate is doing a full 60-minute show this year, isn’t she?” I asked.

“No. She’s going to do about 3 minutes.”

“Oh lord,” I said. “So much for what I know. But, if she speaks slowly, she can stretch it out to fit.”

“Lots of other people have,” said Christian. “She was supposed to be doing another show. I had one set up with Freestival for a one-off, where we would have a load of kids 7-15 years old each doing three minutes. But that looks to be in doubt now, given the whole debacle.”

“Was it in Cowgatehead?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Ah.”

Sad-eyed Kate Talbot, the perfect flyerer, 2014

Sad-eyed Kate Talbot, the perfect flyerer, 2014

“We also had another one-off charity gig set up for the Neuro Foundation, which was going to be quite a big gig and have quite big names at it. That gig is now in doubt.”

“Was that one at Cowgatehead as well?”

“Yes. But neither of those gigs were going to be in the main Edinburgh Fringe Brochure – They were just going to be advertised at the time. So they may go ahead somewhere else…

“But Kate is definitely doing one show – Comedy 4 Kids. Three minutes. And she’s going to do a bit of a tutorial for an hour beforehand. Kate has been plaguing me to do something at the Fringe.”

“Building on her award-winning career start last year?” I asked.

“Absolutely.”

“And as for your own Fringe shows?” I asked.

“My main show Christian Talbot Is Shite at Being Irish is in the Underbelly and my other show Cheaper than Therapy was supposed to be in Cowgatehead. It’s now in Bob Slayer’s BlundaBus. It was supposed to be in Cowgatehead but I lost the venue, of course. Bob just messaged me out of the blue: Have you got a venue? and he gave me six dates.

Christian’s Cowgatehead show now moved to Bob’s BlundaBus

Christian’s Cowgatehead show scheduled in Edinburgh, now moved to Bob’s BlundaBus

“It’s going to be a talk show with a different theme every night. Things that lead us to therapy or things that you find therapeutic.

“So one of the shows will be about religion. We will have one on alcohol. One on your parents messing up your life. and one on depression.

“I did it a couple of times over in Sligo at the festival there, talking about various therapy things. It worked quite well. I just think it’s something different. I didn’t want to get people up to do stand-up again.”

“It’s an extension of your Seven 2 Ten podcast?” I asked.

“Yes. A little bit, but with a theme to each one.”

“Is your podcast still going?”

“I haven’t really had time,” Christian told me. “I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’ll probably do Cheaper than Therapy as a podcast-and-record and put them out.”

“You don’t see the Fringe chat show as a leaping-off point for something else?”

“No. It’s just a bit of fun. It would be lovely if it was, wouldn’t it? But I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it for a laugh.”

There’s a rarity. Someone doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe just for the craic.

“This coming Sunday,” said Christian. “I’m doing a preview of Christian Talbot Is Shite at Being Irish at the Museum of Comedy in London – I’m on straight after Lewis Schaffer’s show.”

“Oh lord,” I said. “Oh lord. For you, the nightmare never ends.”

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Doubt cast on the legality of PBH Free Fringe contracts at Edinburgh Fringe

An Edinburgh street during the Fringe

An Edinburgh Fringe street scene: this could be a comedian…

Yesterday’s blog about the unnecessary chaos surrounding PBH Free Fringe and Freestival shows at the Edinburgh Fringe estimated the financial damage to around 150-170 acts at around £77,000 in total.

As I wrote yesterday: It does not matter who is right and who is wrong here. There was a compromise on the table which would have meant no act lost money, no act lost their advertised venue space and no act lost shows.

As an example of the effect of the intransigence on one individual act, 2015 UK Pun champion Leo Kearse has told me this:


Short answer – I’m currently down about £1,200

I had two shows booked in to Cowgatehead and St John’s – Pun Man’s Pun Party and Hate ‘n’ Live (a show where comedians improvise rants about audience topics pulled out of a bucket).

They are both great shows. They will be replaced by some shit from the PBH z-list. I shudder to think how shit that’ll be.

I have paid Freestival fees, Fringe registration, train tickets, accommodation deposit.

I’m baffled as to how the current situation is beneficial to the venue owners, the Fringe Society, the audiences, or the acts.

I think PBH and his evil cohorts have behaved despicably to cause maximum disruption to the acts.

I doubt I’ll do the Edinburgh Fringe again. Other festivals offer better gigs and better exposure.

There is a clip on YouTube of Leo performing:


Promoter Bob Slayer has also issued a press release about surrealist act Michael Brunström:


MICHAEL BRUNSTRÖM: THE GOLDEN AGE OF STEAM

Michael Brunström, nominated last year for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality, has moved his Edinburgh Fringe 2015 show to Heroes @ The Hive, following the dispute between PBH Free Fringe and Freestival over programming rights to the Cowgatehead venue.

More money wasted: the poster Michael Brumstrom had designed for his Freestival show

More money wasted: the poster Michael had designed for his once-a-Freestival-show

Heroes promoter Bob Slayer offered Brunström a slot at the Big Cave in The Hive in exchange for a large (400g) bar of Toblerone. This agreement was made orally.

“Both PBH Free Fringe and Freestival could learn a thing or two from Bob Slayer about professionalism, efficiency and mature behaviour,” said Brunström.

Heroes will also be hosting Phil Kay and Russell Hicks – whose show Psychedelicious had also been scheduled at Cowgatehead – in Bob Slayer’s Blundabus.

In 2014 Michael Brunström was nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Award for his show The Human Loire, in which he impersonated the longest river in France, nailed grapes to Ted Cruz’s face and chewed the legs off a heron. Brunström’s 2015 show, The Golden Age of Steam, includes further surreal stunts involving his body, voice, legs, some ping-pong balls and a tiny fern.


Interestingly, Pear Shaped Comedy’s Anthony Miller had this comment to make on my blog of yesterday, in which I mentioned the PBH Free Fringe’s contract which (uniquely among Fringe operators) bans acts appearing or wanting to appear at a PBH Free Fringe venue from appearing or negotiating to appear at any other free venue. I called this a restriction of trade. Anthony Miller wrote:


Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller asks Why? Why? Why?

I still maintain that by applying exclusivity terms to people over who else they can work for BEFORE employing people (and he is an employer even if he pays people by venue barter) he is attempting to run a de facto pre-entry closed shop system. This is illegal.

Someone said it doesn’t matter if it’s illegal or not just that it’s stupid, but the law – when it works – exists to protect us from destructive patterns and practices in society.

So why is it illegal? Why is it more than just an old man with eccentric rules on which of his competitors his acts and people who want to gig for him can also gig for?

It is illegal because the effective purpose of all pre-entry closed shop systems is effective control over entry into the labour market by one body with the effective result of decreasing the overall number of people in the labour market. And that is exactly what is happening here.

It is not an accident that a load of people are now going to the Fringe NOT to work. It is by design.

PBH wants to be a monopoly controller.

Why?

He wants to control the number of people entering the labour market.

Why?

Then he can decrease competition.

Why?

He has become a victim of his own success…. Monopoly of £0 entry gigs gives him control of who does and doesn’t enter the labour market. And that is what he wants.

This situation is not an accident. It is the inevitable long term consequence of any closed shop system. A system which always puts one-person coterie in charge of who can work and who can enter the workforce.

I am sure PBH has an incredibly long waiting list… but would it be so long if people who were not on it did not fear blacklisting?


Robin Ince (Photo: Vera de Kok)

Robin Ince (Photo by Vera de Kok)

I also this morning received some reaction from Robin Ince to a reference in yesterday’s blog to an upcoming benefit gig for the Free Fringe which includes performers Stewart Lee, Nick Helm and Robin Ince. Robin writes:


Stewart. Nick and I agreed to do benefit to support acts doing Free Fringe; we have no gain from it. Maybe it is time we stopped doing benefits and let the lazy comedy fucks who can’t be bothered to do any to start doing ten minutes here and there.

Do I support the acts who have been fucked over. Yes. Would I do a benefit for them? Yes.

Do I think Freestival are innocent victims and PBH is the big villain?  No.


Meanwhile, the saga continues.

A general perception I think (including by me) was that the fact there were three members of the same family – all called Kenny Waugh – somehow involved in the saga meant there was chaos between Kennies. In fact, I understand, there was only the one Kenny – the middle one – involved in talking to both the PBH Free Fringe and to the Freestival.

The Waugh family – one or more of them – rent the Cowgatehead building from the Crolla family. 

A Crolla family is involved in ownership of the La Favorita pizza company which sponsors the Freestival. But, as I understand it, they are different Crolla families.

Elio Crolla, who was involved in the Cowgatehead building last year, died on 26th January this year, which will not have helped the tangled web of ownership, rentals and rights within the building.

I think my head may soon explode.

 

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Edinburgh Fringe Cowgatehead chaos continues: Free Fringe rejections start

The Cowgatehead venue last year

Previous Free Fringe Cowgatehead venue (right) in Edinburgh

Continuing on from yesterday’s blog about the still unresolved chaos surrounding the Cowgatehead venue at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe

First, some brief context…

Peter Buckley Hill (PBH) of the Free Fringe claims that his organisation and not the breakaway Freestival organisation has the rights to stage shows at Cowgatehead.

He told acts who had already booked with Freestival, paid the Edinburgh Fringe for a listing in the Programme (it’s out next week) and possibly paid to have flyers and posters designed:

“The Free Fringe will entertain applications from you. You will have to accept the Free Fringe Ethos and Conditions. These conditions stipulate that you should not be an applicant to any other provider of free-admission shows. This means that you should dissociate from Freestival forthwith.”

In a Chortle comedy website opinion piece, editor Steve Bennett clarified the catch in this offer:

“Performers who want to be part of the PBH Free Fringe have to sign up to a 3,600-word ‘conditions and ethos’ statement – a key part of which is that if you apply to the Free Fringe you cannot apply to any rival. This is the only operator – including the supposedly evil paid venues – to impose this draconian condition on applicants.

“PBH stressed this clause in his Facebook post, putting comedians in an impossible situation. They cannot hedge their bets and apply to PBH in case he’s right, while keeping their Freestival slots open. He’s forcing them to quit Freestival and go with him in a situation, frankly, where no one knows for sure what’s happening.”

That seems – in the context of this labyrinthine mess – fairly simple.

If an act believes the Free Fringe may have rights to the Cowgatehead venue and the Freestival may not, then that act can unlink itself from the Freestival. But the Free Fringe insists it is an either/or situation.

Of course, inevitably, it is more complicated than that.

Yesterday promoter Bob Slayer, who runs the Heroes organisation, pointed out to me something which he says has been overlooked.

“The main dilemma,” he told me, “is not about acts denouncing Freestival – who won’t take that personally.

“There are acts that are involved in a second show with one of the other free promoters or us that cannot transfer their Cowgatehead show to PBH unless they cancel their other show.”

So, for example, an act may have had one free show booked into Cowgatehead with Freestival AND a separate free show booked in at a Laughing Horse Free Festival venue or at one of Bob’s Heroes venues.

In those circumstances, the act could not simply cancel their Cowgatehead booking with Freestival and transfer to a Cowgatehead booking via the Free Fringe. They would also have to cancel their entirely separate show with the other promoter.

Bob tells me: “I am not sure how many this acts this effects but I know for sure Phil Kay is one act that PBH has rejected transferring because of this! Crazy!”

I have to agree with him and to lament that PBH – a man with originally good intentions – has paved the road leading to this Hellish situation. If you apply to the Free Fringe you cannot apply to any other venue operator whom PBH perceives as a rival. Like Chortle, I am aware of no other venue operator at the Edinburgh Fringe who imposes this draconian condition on applicants.

This blatant restriction of trade and limitation on acts’ freedom to perform has always been more than a little surprising coming from an organisation originally set up with the genuine intention of helping acts: an intention now apparently superseded by personal vendettas in which acts’ welfare is of secondary or no consideration.

At the end of yesterday’s blog, I drew attention to the fact that, under Scottish Law, an oral agreement constitutes a legally-binding contract and that, if the Cowgatehead people made any oral agreement with the Freestival, it would invalidate any subsequent agreement with PBH.

In a comment on my Facebook page yesterday, comedy critic Kate Copstick (who trained as a Scottish lawyer) added: “And it would seem that, legally speaking, the intervening actions and bookings etc will constitiute a homologation of the Freestival contract”

For those of us who did not train in Scottish Law, the Collins English Dictionary currently defines ‘homologate’ as:

  1. (mainly Scots law) to approve or ratify (a deed or contract)
  2. (law) to confirm (a proceeding, etc)

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Comedian Christian Talbot is sh*te at being Irish + news of an ISIS fundraiser

Christian Talbot at Soho Theatre yesterday

Christian Talbot was drinking Coke at Soho Theatre yesterday

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Christian Talbot was in London yesterday so, before his flight home to Belfast, I had a chat with him.

I thought: There will be a blog in there somewhere.

Maybe I was wrong.

Maybe I was right.

Christian won the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award last year with his 12-year-old daughter Kate because of her excellently cunning flyering for his show. I can’t be bothered to repeat the story. This year, Kate is appearing on stage herself.

“She’s been plaguing me,” said Christian, “for the last few weeks saying: I want to do stand-up. If we go to the Edinburgh Fringe, can I do a spot?

“So she’s going to be in a one-off children’s gig at the Freestival. I was also in touch with Comedy 4 Kids, who are running a gig at Assembly and Kate’s been offered a spot on one of their shows. And Bob Slayer has offered her a gig on his double-decker bus.”

“Has he got a name for the double-decker bus yet?” I asked.

“I don’t think so. I told him to call it The Folly.”

“I suggested Desmond,” I said. “How’s your wife?”

Kate Talbot (right) with mum Gayle: future comedians both?

Kate Talbot (right) with mum Gayle: future comedians both?

“Oh, Gayle’s doing a comedy course at the moment,” said Christian. “So she might be doing a gig in Edinburgh too.

“She says I’m hellbent on embarrassing myself by getting better comedians from the family on stage.”

“Didn’t she used to be a boxer?” I asked.

“She did used to work in a box factory,” conceded Christian.

“Does she not,” I asked, “realise there’s no money in comedy?”

“She just wanted to do it for a bit of fun, because she likes the writing. I don’t know that she will ever do a gig. She’s telling me she won’t. But then there’s Edinburgh in August.”

“Why,” I asked, “is she doing a comedy course but then says she’s not going to perform a gig?”

“She’s just awkward. Stubborn. That’s my wife. She’s contrary.”

“From County Contrary?” I asked.

“I’d like her to do a gig,” said Christian, ignoring me. “I think she’d be very good.”

“What is your show called?” I asked.

Christian Talbot ponders the title of his Ediburgh Fringe show

Christian Talbot ponders his Edinburgh Fringe show title

Christian Talbot is Shite at Being Irish. I’m really bad at being Irish. I can’t speak Irish and all Irish traditional music sounds the same to me It’s all Diddly-diddly-aye. I also don’t ‘get’ Gaelic Football and hurling.”

“Oh,” I said, “hurling is great. It’s beautiful! I used to make TV trailers for it when I worked in Dublin. Hurling in slow motion is like ballet – but interesting. I’m amazed people don’t get their heads sliced off. Gaelic Football’s graceful too. They were made for television slomos”

“A bit violent: all of them,” said Christian.

“Wildly dangerous,” I agreed. “But, in slow motion, graceful…”

“Like one of those martial arts films,” said Christian.

“Hurling and Gaelic Football,” I said enthusiastically, “are much more exciting than soccer and don’t let’s even mention cricket, the world’s most boring game.”

“I just never got into them,” said Christian, who was born and brought up in Dublin. “My dad wasn’t particularly Irish; he always watched the BBC, so I always liked Monty Python and I’ve never been a mad drinker.”

“Heard of any stunts for Edinburgh?” I asked.

“Well,” said Christian, “I see Bec Hill is renting out space on her body. If you give her clothes – like a teeshirt with an ad for your show on – she’ll wear them. She’ll wear a different set of clothes every day during her show: clothes that other people have given her to publicise their show during her show.

“And, it’s not for Edinburgh, but did you hear about Sean Hegarty over in Northern Ireland? He had a competition on his Facebook page for people to name his show in Belfast and he said whatever got the most likes would be the title… They picked ISIS Fundraiser, so now he has to go through with it under that title. Someone told me there were threats made against the venue.”

Sean Hegarty faces up to his publicity stunt

Sean Hegarty faces up to reaction

Christian told me that yesterday so, obviously, this morning I got in touch with Sean Hegarty.

“Yeah,” he told me. “The show’s going ahead on April 13th with that title, unfortunately. All press is good press, though, and I’m using it to my advantage. I’ve got in contact with the isis charity in England who support young people against sexual exploitation. So I’m hoping to do a collection for them at the end of my show. I’ve also been in contact with the police who are completely behind me and understand the predicament I’m in.”

I feel we may hear more of this.

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Show celebrated 10th anniversary of comedian Malcolm Hardee’s death

A massed Balloon Dance last night

A massed Balloon Dance climaxed the UTC show last night

Malcolm Hardee, the godfather of British alternative comedy, drowned ten years ago – on 31st January – and I think his body was found three days later. I have a shit memory, I can’t remember exactly and I think it would be lacking in respect to him to check the actual facts.

Claire Hardee (extreme right) with her Can’t Can’t Girls

Clare Hardee (extreme right) danced with Can’t Can’t Girls

Anyway, let us assume it was three days later. That would have been 2nd February. So yesterday – 2nd February – was an appropriate night to have a tribute show in his honour at his old club Up The Creek in Greenwich.

All the usual suspects were there, including Malcolm’s sister Clare who reprised her always rousing version of the can-can with her Can’t-Can’t Girls… and Malcolm’s daughter Poppy, who has just returned from Sierra Leone without (she claimed) contracting ebola.

Unfortunately, last night’s show started with a failure.

Martin Soan attempts to piss on a member of the audience with help from Dan Lees

Martin Soan last night attempted to piss on a member of the audience with auditory water-based help from Dan Lees

Malcolm’s comedy mate Martin Soan (entirely naked, of course), attempted to urinate on a random member of the audience sitting in the front row. This had the effect of emptying the front row of everyone other than that lucky, plucky punter.

Alas, Martin was unable to summon up the piss, even when fellow performer Dan Lees attempted to help by pouring water from one pint glass into another next to Martin’s ear.

Hattie Hayridge and Steve Best were among acts in the audience

Hattie Hayridge & Steve Best were among acts in the audience

Fortunately, the rest of the show was successfully staged with bizarre acts too numerous to list and a final naked balloon dance by massed naked performers.

Oh, all right – Jayde Adams, Annie Bashford, Cheekykita, Candy Gigi, the Greatest Show on Legs, Liberty Hodes, Spencer Jones, Dan Lees, Darren Maskell, Joz Norris, Owen O’Neill, Nick Revell, John Robertson and Bob Slayer.

The show was hosted by the dead Malcolm himself – well, Terry Alderton in a wig and suit.

Terry Aldertin had a ball (well two) last night

Terry Alderton had a ball (well two) last night

It is quite easy to do a cartoon imitation of Malcolm – you just mumble and shamble a bit. But Terry succeeded in doing a masterly, spot-on impression. He managed to get in all of Malcolm’s gags (well, to be truthful, Malcolm didn’t have many), his asides, habits and physical tics. You could almost say it was an admirably subtle and successful impersonation. But ‘subtle’ is not a word to use in relation to anything Hardee-esque.

I congratulated Terry in the second interval.

“I’m trying to remember all the Malcolmisms,” he told me, “but the great thing is, if I repeat anything, it doesn’t matter, cos that’s what Malcolm did anyway.”

During the first interval in the show, performer Joz Norris – a man desperate to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe – accosted me upstairs, by Malcolm’s giant painted pastiche mural of Leonardo’s Last Supper (with Malcolm as Jesus and various other comics as his disciples).

Joz Norris (centre) prepares his unusual imitation of Malcolm Hardee whiile Spencer Jones (left) takes off his trousers and Adam Larter looks sensible

Joz Norris (centre) prepares his unusual imitation of Malcolm Hardee while Spencer Jones (left) takes off his trousers and Adam Larter looks unusually sensible backstage.

“You remember that idea I told you about at Christmas?” Joz started. “For winning a Cunning Stunt Award?”

“Of course I don’t remember,” I told him. “I have a shit memory.”

“I suggested,” said Joz, “that I just bribe you and give you some money in a briefcase.”

“It’s a good thought,” I told him.

“Maybe £50?” said Joz.

“You said a briefcase,” I carped.

“Well, just for the stunt,” said Joz, “but maybe only like £20.”

“I am going off the idea,” I told him.

“I could get a tiny, novelty, palm-sized briefcase and put a £5 note in it,” suggested Joz. “If we filmed me giving you a tiny briefcase with a £5 note in it, it would be funny. A worthy cunning stunt.”

2014 Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Candy Gigi was quite restrained last night

2014 Malcolm Hardee main Award winner Candy Gigi performed a restrained act at Up The Creek last night

“Funny, but not a winner,” I said.

“The specifics of how much,” he suggested, “can be sorted out later. It’s the quality of the stunt itself that’s important, isn’t it?”

“Of course not,” I said. “It’s the quantity of the money and we decide after you give it to me if you’re going to win the award.”

“That’s a gamble,” said Joz. “But, then, I suppose a cunning stunt WOULD be a gamble.”

“It would be,” I said encouragingly. “We should try this out.”

Darren Maskell

Darren Maskell – instantly recognisable

“But imagine,” said Joz, “if I bribed you and then I didn’t win.”

“I am imagining that,” I told him.

“There’s a risk factor,” said Joz.

“Not for me,” I said.

“No,” agreed Joz. “You can’t lose.”

“Which is fair enough,” I said.

“You’re not obliged to give me anything,” said Joz.

“I like the way you think,” I told him.

“So,” said Joz, “I either come up with a way round that or accept the situation.”

Jayde Adams, 2014 Funny Women winner

Jayde Adams, 2014 Funny Women winner

“Acceptance is the way to go,” I told him. “Positive thinking is always a good attitude.”

“Accepting,” mused Joz, “ that you might end up with the money and I might end up poorer with no award.”

“There are always winners and losers in award shows,” I said.

“What sort of sum might make it work for me?” asked Joz.

“I think we are talking five figures,” I said. “That’s one more than The Beatles.”

“That’s £10,000,” said Joz. “Or more.”

“Or more,” I agreed. “Think positive. Or more.”

Bob Slayer relaxed in the bar after the show

Bob Slayer relaxed in the bar after the show

“I don’t have that kind of money,” said Joz, sadly.

“You can get it,” I told him.

“I certainly can’t get £10,000 together between now and Edinburgh.”

“You work with children,” I reminded him.

“It’s not as well-paid as you think,” said Joz.

“You can get a good price for children nowadays,” I told him.

“I’m not going to sell them!” said Joz.

Adam Taffler (right) with Joz Norris under the Last Supper mural

Adam Taffler (right) & Joz Norris under Last Supper mural

“Why not?” I asked. “You have to think outside the box to get a Cunning Stunt Award. Think of the publicity. The tabloids would love it.”

The organiser of last night’s extravaganza, showman Adam Taffler, told me (and I think he was being serious) that he may organise an annual 10th Anniversary of Malcolm’s Death show.

Obviously, each year, it would continue to be the 10th anniversary. Malcolm would have wanted it that way.

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