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Comic John Ryan’s ‘childhood prank’

John Ryan chatted to me over tea in the Soho Theare Bar

John Ryan chatted to me over tea in the Soho Theatre Bar

In 2010, comedian John Ryan was an NHS Regional Health and Social Care award winner in the Mental Health and Well Being category. In the same year, he got a Royal Society for Public Health Special Commendation for contributions to the field of Arts and Health Equalities. And, in 2011, he was a Best Short Documentary Award winner at the Scottish Mental Health and Arts Film Festival for a film he made about a women’s prison.

This year, the Irish Post reported that he was “chuffed to bits” to have his first research paper on mental health published in the Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

But John Ryan is not often mentioned by trendy comedy reviewers. Why?

“I think I’m a bit too laddish for them,” he told me. “A bit too working class. And I tend to play Jongleurs and the bigger clubs. I’ve done the Soho Theatre three or four times, but I earn my living doing this. I’ve not got aspirations to do a sitcom or Live at The Apollo on TV. I basically provide meat & two veg.

“I was a trade union chairman for ten years – UNISON, the public sector. I worked in a collective environment. And I worked in housing. I had three small kids under the age of 5 and worked 12-hour shifts. Two weeks of days; a week of nights. But I also used to write kids’ stories.

John directed inserts for Teletubbies

John directed Tubbie Inserts

“Someone said: If you do stand-up, you’ll get a performing CV and you’ll be able to sell your kids’ stories. So I did my first gig and got my first writing contract three months later. That was on Teletubbies. And they gave me a job as an insert director. I bluffed my way in. Bluffed it, blagged it.

“When that finished, I carried on with my day job and the TV producers were trying to re-vamp another show of theirs called Brum about a little kid’s toy car. They offered me a six months contract writing on that – equivalent to a year’s salary where I was working. So I took that and took my pay-off from my day job – so I basically had 18-months salary and carried on doing stand-up.

“I was a Hackney Empire New Act of the Year finalist in 2000 with Russell Brand. Shappi Khorsandi came second. Paul Hickman won it. Russell Brand went on and done about 15 minutes of piss-poor Bill Hicks type act. Cole Parker got told off for getting stoned in the dressing room.

“In 2001 I did Leicester New Act of the Year. I was the runner-up. It was won by Miles Jupp. The other runner-up was Jimmy Carr. And John Bishop was not placed.

“A couple of years later, in 2003, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe with a show called John Ryan Isn’t Normal? My son had been in a school play. He was Joseph; a girl was Mary. He went to pick up the baby Jesus and, in a packed assembly hall, the girl says Give me the baby and my son says No, I’m giving him a cuddle. So the girl says Men don’t cuddle babies and by now the play has gone to pot. My boy says: Well, my dad’s a man and he cuddles me, and, in this full assembly hall, this little girl says, Well, your dad’s not normal.

John Ryan performs in a YouTube video

John performs a routine about the police in a YouTube video

“All the mums looked at me. It genuinely happened. So I wrote a whole hour show about it.

“I had an MA in Health & Social Policy. I had a degree in Social Administration. I had worked in Housing & Community Care. I had experience of working with vulnerable groups.

“When I did John Ryan Isn’t Normal? at the Edinburgh Fringe, a reviewer for Three Weeks magazine turned up pissed with his girlfriend, spent half the time snogging her and being an arse, so I told him to Fuck off out! and then wrote to Three Weeks saying: Look, don’t send idiots. I don’t think they like that.

“The following year, I did a show called Stupid Monkey, because I went to a party dressed as a monkey and got into an argument with a guy who was dressed as a carrot. We got into a physical fight and the ridiculousness of it – that me, a grown man with kids, was fighting a man dressed as a carrot – made me think Why aren’t we able to resolve our differences without fighting? So the show talked about Iraq, Israel, racism, homophobia and was called Stupid Monkey.”

“Had you got anything out of the John Ryan Isn’t Normal? show?I asked.

“Oh yes,” said John. “I picked up a little award from some independent magazine that then folded and Geoff Rowe from the Leicester Comedy Festival asked if I’d be interested in talking about health in non-conventional venues.

“I also got asked to write a column for the Irish Post, because I’m from the Irish community. In the Irish community, if you get in the Irish Post, you’re like a superstar. I thought it would be fun for my mum.

“So, from that first Edinburgh Fringe, I got myself a weekly column and got involved in doing health projects: Hurt Until It Laughs. Then I did a tour round working men’s clubs and prisons, young offenders’ institutions, gay/lesbian centres, Islamic centres, Afro-Caribbean centres.

"Geoff Rowe also asked me if I knew anything about mental health"

“Geoff Rowe also asked me if I knew anything about mental health because there was a charity”

“And Geoff Rowe also asked me if I knew anything about mental health because there was a children’s charity called YoungMinds who were very keen to empower men to spend more time with their kids and to look at how kids behaved to see if there was any mental trouble there. So I wrote a show called Those Young Minds which allowed me to talk about my upbringing.

“My family were Scottish and Irish. I was a Cockney. My mum’s lot are from Coatbridge in Scotland. Her dad moved from Catholic Coatbridge to Longford in Ireland, where my mum was born. My dad’s family were all Travellers, from Longford. Middle of nowhere. Even Irish people don’t know where it is. Then my mum and dad moved to Hackney in London. So we went from the poorest part of Scotland to the poorest part of Ireland to Hackney. You can almost see a show writing itself, can’t you?

“I was always fighting and scrapping, cos that’s what we do.

“I came home from school one day, having been given the cane yet again and been told I was going to get expelled.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Pranks,” said John.

“What sort of pranks?” I asked.

“Well,” said John, “when I was eight, I hit a kid with a brick. He was called Paul Kennedy and we were the only two Irish families in the class.”

“He was a Protestant?” I asked.

“No, he was a Catholic, but he just thought he was better than me and we always used to fight. At school one day, he picked his nose, put it on me, we had a big argument, I threw a brick at him, knocked him out, blood came out of his nose and out of his ears.

“One of the girls in the class said: You’ve killed him! 

“I had never felt so great in my life. It was a really empowering feeling. In my head, I was thinking: I’ve got a list of people I’m going to take out now. 

“So I go to school the next day. He doesn’t come to school. None of the other kids will come near me in the playground – You killed Paul Kennedy! they tell me – and I went home and my sister said she was going to tell my mum and I was petrified.

“My mum came into my bedroom and said: I’m so ashamed. I’m really ashamed of what you done. 

“And I think: Hang on. I’m not getting slapped.

We are going to pray to Jesus, she tells me.

“I never liked the one on the cross. I always liked the little baby one. I was scared of the one on the cross. So I thought of little baby Jesus and we prayed.

“I go into school the next morning and Paul Kennedy isn’t there. Everyone tells me he is dead. I have killed him. I am still feeling alright.

“At playtime, he comes into class with a bandage on his head. This was a great, euphoric moment. I run up to give him a cuddle. He punches me in the face. I head-butt him. He goes back to hospital. I get suspended from school for the week.

“My mum says: What are we going to do with you? You’re going to go in to Daisy next door. 

Everyone in our block was either Irish or black. Except Daisy, who was this old white English woman. She didn’t have a TV. She made her own cheese in a handkerchief at the sink. She had long nails. She was really scary. She used to be a head teacher.

“So I went to her flat.

“First day. Go in. Go to the toilet. Sit down at the table. My sister had told me Daisy was going to kill me. But she gave me an apple and some milk. The wall was covered in books. She said: Pick a book, read it and not a peep out of you.

“I was petrified. I read the book. Then, after a couple of hours, I went home. This happened every day for a week.

“At the end of the week, Daisy came in to our kitchen. My mum asked: How’s he been? Daisy said: He’s been really quiet. He just reads. No trouble at all. Didn’t break anything. Didn’t steal anything. Not rude. 

“My mum told me: If you keep misbehaving, you’ll go back in there again.

“And I was really upset, because I wanted to go back in there.

“In the 2005 show I wrote – Those Young Minds – I was able to look at things like Why did my behaviour change in Daisy’s? Was it because I was getting attention? Was it because I was being given something to do? 

“I did that show in Edinburgh, but only for two days. I got a one-star review from Three Weeks.”

 … CONTINUED HERE

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Comedians in crisis and eight children whimper unseen behind a locked door

One man’s momentary improvisation has lasted

Thirty years ago, in 1982, the actor Rutger Hauer improvised a monologue in a film. The original script had read:

I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching the stars fight on the shoulder of Orion…I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!

Rutger Hauer changed this when the scene was shot in Blade Runner to:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

His momentary improvisation has lasted and been remembered.

The original, written script… it is as if it never existed.

Last night, my eternally-un-named friend was cleaning the top of a very old bedside table. It is possibly 100 years old. Perhaps it was made in 1912 or 1922 or even earlier. Just before – or just after – the First World War. Obviously, being that old, there were marks on and in the wood.

Things had happened to the table – lots of tiny split-second things over the course of perhaps 100 years – which marked the wood. It remains scarred after all this time. The table could easily have been thrown away in the last 100 years. And then the scars would not exist.

Just like people.

At some point, the table will be thrown away and destroyed. Then it will not exist. Even the memory of it will not exist.

So it goes.

In the UK, apparently, many comedy clubs are getting perhaps half as many customers as they did a couple of years ago and are cutting back or closing down. “There is a crisis in the live comedy business” and a group of comedians and club owners are meeting in London tomorrow to discuss what they can do about it.

This is very important to them, because they are talking about their livelihoods, how they earn enough money to (just about) survive. In that sense, it is by far the most important thing in the world.

But, to put their troubles into perspective, here is an e-mail I received from comedy critic Kate Copstick this morning, currently working out in Kenya for her Mama Biashara charity. She tells me about something which happened yesterday.

______________________________________________________________________

SATURDAY

Doris has gone off to Limuru where there is a problem with a childminder mistreating kids.  She calls me from Limuru and explains that they had to batter down the door of the woman’s house at 11.00am and found eight children whimpering, famished and covered in their own poo and pee.

The mothers of the kids are what might be termed chang’aa whores – ie they will have sex with a guy for booze. A little like our time-honoured tradition of crack whores. But cheaper. And more prone to death, blindness and insanity (yer basic side effects of chang’aa – a brew that makes poteen look like a banana smoothie).

The women leave their kids with the ‘childminder’ while they go out at night and do what they do.

Sadly, in this case, the childminder simply dosed them with adult strength Piriton and left them while SHE went out overnight to do what she did.

According to Doris, the police were great: “They beat the women till they sobered up and then locked them in the cells”.

We are probably going to Limuru tomorrow with some food and meds for the kids. But, longer term, there is very little we can think of to do for a baby with a monster for a mother.

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Filed under Africa, Kenya, Movies

Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and Roman Polanski. Comparing artists and arses.

(This was also published by the Huffington Post)

Spice World released with scum removed

Roman Polanski?” someone said to me yesterday afternoon. “Well, he’s not as bad as Jimmy Savile, is he?”

That is like a red rag to a bull.

Was Jack The Ripper not as bad as Adolf Hitler because he did not kill as many people? You could even argue Adolf Hitler was a morally better person than the Jack The Ripper because, as far as I am aware, Hitler did not personally kill anyone during the Second World War.

It is a pointless argument.

Jimmy Savile had-it-off with more under-age girls than Roman Polanski and was apparently at-it for 50 years. Roman Polanski was only prosecuted over one girl.

But the truth is you cannot compare evil.

Most things are grey. But some things are black and white and incomparable.

I had a conversation with two other men a couple of days ago and which I started to write a blog about the next day but which I aborted because it was too dangerous…

One man was involved in the comedy business. The other had been involved in the music business. We had got talking about Gary Glitter.

When the Spice Girls’ movie Spice World was made, it included a big musical routine involving Gary Glitter. Very shortly before the film’s release, he was arrested on sex charges. He was cut out of the film because (quite rightly) it was thought to be dodgy given the movie’s target audience.

But now, in many places, several years later, his music is, in effect, banned from being played because the act of playing it – and saying his very name in the introduction – is thought to be in bad taste.

The conversation I had with the other two men revolved around Art v Scum.

Just because someone is scum does not mean they cannot create Art.

Just because they have been rightly arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for an act of evil does not lessen the level of any Art they may have created.

I am sure all sorts of artists over the centuries have committed all sorts of morally and criminally heinous acts. But that does not mean we should not appreciate their art.

You may see where this is going and why I abandoned writing this particular blog a couple of days ago. Just by discussing it I might seem to be lessening my dislike of what the scum did. Which is not the case. But it is a danger.

Just because Gary Glitter is scum does not mean he did not create some very good pop music. Perhaps it was not high art. But it was good pop music. The fact that he was imprisoned for having pornographic images of children in Britain and committing sex crimes in Vietnam does not mean his records should be banned.

There is the fact that, if you buy his records, he will receive royalties. That is a problem, but does not affect the theoretical discussion.

Clearer examples are actors Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham.

Homosexuality was stupidly illegal in the UK until 1967. In 1962, Wilfred Brambell (old man Steptoe in the BBC TV comedy series Steptoe and Son) was arrested in a Shepherd’s Bush toilet for “persistently importuning”, though he got a conditional discharge. Ooh missus. He died in 1985. In 2012, he was accused of abusing two boys aged aged 12-13 backstage at the Jersey Opera House in the 1970s. One of the boys was from the Haut de la Garenne children’s home, which is now surrounded by very seedy claims of child abuse, murder and torture (and which Jimmy Savile visited, though this is strangely under-played in newspaper reports).

Actor Leslie Grantham – who famously played ‘Dirty Den’ in BBC TV’s EastEnders – is a convicted murderer. In 1966, he shot and killed a German taxi driver in Osnabrück. He was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment and served ten years in jail.

Wilfred Brambell’s presumed sexual sleaziness and Leslie Grantham’s actual imprisonment for killing someone does not mean the BBC should never repeat Steptoe and Son nor old episodes of EastEnders, nor that it would be morally reprehensible to watch the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night because Wilfred Brambell plays a prominent role in it.

It does not mean that Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham’s undoubtedly high acting skills should not be appreciated.

A chum of mine was recently compiling a history of glam rock for a BBC programme and was told he could not include Gary Glitter. That is a bit like not including the Rolling Stones in a history of 1960s British rock music or not including Jimmy Savile in a history of BBC disc jockeys.

Which brings us to Roman Polanski.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think he is scum and (figuratively speaking) his balls should be cut off and he should be thrown into a bottomless pit of dung for eternity.

He drugged, raped and buggered a 13-year-old girl.

End of.

The defence “She was not that innocent” is no defence.

In January next year, the British Film Institute starts a two-month “tribute” to Roman Polanski at the National Film Theatre in London.

I have no problem with that. I might even go to some of the movie screenings.

Dance of the Vampires, Rosemary’s Baby and Macbeth are brilliant films. Chinatown and Tess are very good – although I have also had the misfortune to sit through the unspeakably awful Pirates.

As a film-maker, Roman Polanski deserves a tribute. As a criminal on the run from justice, he deserves to be arrested and imprisoned.

Art is often created by people who are scum.

Here is the deleted scene from Spice World:

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Dead paedophile Jimmy Savile, sexism at the BBC and rapes in 31 US states

(This piece was also published by the Huffington Post)

The Sun newspaper’s headline today

Last night, a female friend and I watched (on BBC TV) the special Panorama investigation Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew – a programme not just about the Savile scandal but about why, last year, a detailed Newsnight programme exposing Savile’s crimes had been shelved.

Afterwards, my friend asked me: “What do you think?”

“Well,” I replied, “the Jim’ll Fix It! producer said the radio people had never told him any of the stories about Savile but, then, they wouldn’t. Radio and TV are separate people in different  parts of London. Paul Gambaccini said, quite rightly, that people on the 3rd floor of Broadcasting House would not hear gossip happening on the 2nd floor.”

“But,” said my friend, “the editor of Newsnight said there wasn’t anything they had uncovered that the police did not already know – and that wasn’t true.”

“I don’t know why he said that. It’s bizarre,” I agreed. “A lot of the problems are because the BBC is a… Well, you have a situation where the BBC has now commissioned and transmitted a programme exposing something the BBC doesn’t really want to talk about… but it’s the BBC themselves who have made and transmitted the programme they don’t want to be made and transmitted.

“The BBC is not a large thinking, downwardly-controlled entity. Everyone is trying not to control from above. It’s managed day-to-day from below by the producers and the individual bureaucrats. If they think something is dodgy, they refer it up one level… in the case of programmes, to the editor who, if he is uncertain, may refer it up to the executive producer, who… Well, it’s this multi-layered beast with no-one trying to impose or interfere too much on the lower layers because the big thing is editorial independence.

“They said in the programme – quite rightly – that the Director General is in a lose-lose situation. If he did anything, then people will accuse him of controlling things in a Machiavellian way. If he did not do anything, then they’ll say he should have done.”

“It’s not that uncontrolled,” said my  friend, “ because there was a number of times when women were being replaced because they were too old.”

Front page of today’s Daily Mail

“But the people at the very top did not do that,” I said. “That was the hands-on producers or editors or executive producers. The BBC did not sit down and decide as a single corporate entity, as a matter of policy to do it.”

“Well why did they do it?” my  friend asked. “They replaced women because they were too old. It was never men who were replaced.”

“But the BBC as a corporate monolithic thing was not doing that,” I said. “The producers and editors as independent individuals were doing that. The BBC is not some great Machiavellian organisation. It rarely decides anything at a programme level. The individual people who make the individual programmes take the decisions.”

“Isn’t it just an institution that’s mostly male, though?” she asked.

“Well, that’s an entirely different argument,” I said, “though, in this case – shelving the Newsnight programme –  the Big Boss – Helen Boaden – is a woman.”

“Isn’t that how Savile got away with it, though?” my  friend asked me. “A load of young girls were regularly going back to Jimmy Savile’s dressing room and a few guys – it wasn’t just him and Gary Glitter… Some people must have known these young girls were being taken into the dressing room and abused and people were getting away with it because it was Ooh! It’s just guys being guys!”

“But that wasn’t the BBC itself deciding that it was going to be allowed,” I said. “That’s individuals’ failings. The BBC didn’t have meetings at the top or the middle ranks or anywhere and say Oh, we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to feel-up and rape under-age girls in his dressing room. It’s something that happened without anyone deciding it was going to be allowed to happen. And the people who were not involved but who saw it happen did not report it.

“The people at the sixth floor management level of Television Centre – and they’re the only people you could sort of call ‘The BBC’ – did not know what was happening in the basement dressing rooms of the building. The Director General, the Head of Entertainment and even – the way he tells it – the producer of Jim’ll Fix It!did not know that Savile was abusing people in the dressing room and there was no evidence presented to anyone at the time that he was.

“What I don’t understand is why Paul Gambaccini at Radio 1 who’s now going on as if he knew all about it and how appalling it was at the time, didn’t report it.”

“But,” said my friend, “wasn’t the attitude that Guys will be guys! They’re having a bit of a lark! It’s the Swinging Sixties and Swinging Seventies!

“Well, I said, “that’s not what Gambaccini seems to be saying. He is saying now that he thought it was appalling and disgusting at the time.

The Independent newspaper today

“I mean,” I continued, “some of it happened when David Attenborough was Controller BBC2. He would not have known anything about it. The BBC is this vast organisation. It’s a vast collection of little separated villages of different programmes and offices in different departments on different floors of different buildings. Lots of little cliques.

“One set of programme makers barely knows the vague outline of what other programmes are doing in the same department let alone what happens in dressing rooms with the doors closed. I know AAA BBB. He worked on Jim’ll Fix It! He says he never even met Jimmy Savile because Savile only came in on the day of the recording. He worked on the production team of the show and he never even met Jimmy Savile! The BBC organising some vast corporate conspiracy is something beyond practicalities.

“I mean, tonight’s show was made by Panorama about Newsnight. I suspect the people working on the two shows are mortal enemies and there’s an element of sticking the knife in. The BBC is like The Balkans: lots of little separate entities sometimes sniping at each other. It’s not really fully under control. It’s nothing to do with men v women.”

“I think it is,” said my friend.

“The BBC didn’t think having sex with under-age girls was acceptable,” I said. “They didn’t approve it on the sixth floor. They didn’t know it was happening. They didn’t say This is acceptable and we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to do it on BBC premises.

“Well,” said my friend, “he was completely arrogant and he was a man in a man’s world on top of the pile.”

“So what was the BBC supposed to do about something they didn’t know was happening?” I asked.

“It’s the attitude of society,” said my  friend. “Guys think they can use women. The BBC is part of what society is. All those quiz shows that are happening! You don’t get any women on them!”

“So what could the BBC have done about Jimmy Savile?” I asked.

“It’s Nudge nudge Wink wink,” my  friend said, “Guys cover up for other guys.”

“But the BBC didn’t decide to cover it up,” I said, “The BBC did not decide it was acceptable. The BBC did not know.”

“It’s men’s attitude that they have a right to sex,” said my friend. “They can buy it if they can’t find a woman to do it with. They can get it where they want.”

There was another sixteen minutes of this (I recorded it). My friend tends to get het up about the inherent sexism in society and how men make all the rules in their favour. I think she exaggerates.

This morning, when I woke up, a Twitter follower drew my attention to a CNN report a couple of months ago.

The report mentioned in passing that, in 31 US states, rapists have the same custody and visitation rights to any resulting children as other fathers.

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Filed under Radio, Rape, Sex, Television

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

This is allegedly a transcript of an un-broadcast section of an old Have I Got News For You TV programme recorded when Angus Deayton was presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile was a guest on the show. Regular team captains were comedian Paul Merton and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

______________________________

Out-take 3:09’36

During the headline round:

DEAYTON: You used to be a wrestler didn’t you?

SAVILLE: I still am.

DEAYTON: Are you?

SAVILLE: I’m feared in every girls’ school in the country.

(Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.

SAVILLE: What have you heard?

DEAYTON: I’ve…

MERTON: Something about a cunt with a rancid, pus-filled cock.

(Huge audience laugh; Awkward pause)

SAVILLE: I advise you to wash your mouth out, my friend…

MERTON: That’s what she had to do! (Audience laughs)

HISLOP: Weren’t you leaving money in phone boxes or something?

(Saville glares at him) Or have I got completely the wrong end of the…

SAVILLE: (To Deayton, heavily) The question you asked was about wrestling.

DEAYTON: Yes. And then you mentioned girls’ schools. I don’t know whe…

SAVILLE: Well I understood this was a comedy programme. I realise now how wrong I was. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: So were you a professional wrestler?

SAVILLE: Yes I was.

DEAYTON: (To audience) Glad we got that cleared up.(Pulls face; audience giggles)

HISLOP: Feared by every girls’ school in the country…

SAVILLE: That’s right.

MERTON: Due to having a rancid, pus-filled cock.(Huge audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Erm…

HISLOP: You’re on top form tonight, Paul…

SAVILLE: (Strangely) I’m…this is not what I…

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) OK, do you…(inaudible section)…shall we, for pick-ups…

MERTON: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

SAVILLE: A pus-filled cock, I imagine. (Shocked audience laugh)

MERTON: Oh, it’s nice to see you joining in. We’d been waiting for you, you sad senile old shitter. (Audience appears to do double-take)

DEAYTON: I think we…d-d-you you want to apologise to our guest, Paul?

MERTON: Sorry, I do apologise. Sir senile old shitter, is what I meant to say.

(Audience laugh; pause) Sir senile old shitter…who fucks minors.

(Audience unrest)

HISLOP: Sorry, I’m just looking at our lawyer again. (Waves) Hello!

(Audience laughs)

DEAYTON: Shall we get back on course with this, or sha…

SAVILLE: I do fuck miners, that’s quite correct. I have always done so. They can do the most wonderful things with cigars. The coal…

MERTON: What, they stick them up your senile, pus-filled arse?

(Audience laughs)

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV): Come on…I’m getting an ear-bashing here. It’s…

MERTON: Oh they want to continue. Sorry, I’ll contain myself. Carry on…

DEAYTON: Right (Pause) You used to be a professional wrestler didn’t you?

(Huge audience laugh)

SAVILLE: (Calmly) I did.

DEAYTON: You didn’t have a nickname or anything?

SAVILLE: Yes – ‘Loser’. (Audience laughs)

______________________________

Out-take 4: 21’20

Following a discussion about caravans:

DEAYTON: Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the…

MERTON: I visited your caravan the other week, Jimmy.

SAVILLE: Did you really?

MERTON: Oh yes. Interesting what you can find, if you have a bit of a poke.

(Audience laugh)

HISLOP: He just told you, it was twelve years ago…

SAVILLE: No, I lived in it for twelve years.

MERTON: And fucked twelve year olds. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Here we go again…I’ll be backstage if anyone wants me.

MERTON: (Indicating Saville) That’s what you said to the kids on your show, wasn’t it?

(Audience laugh)

SAVILLE: No, they never did want me.

HISLOP: Not even Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE: She was an exception.

DEAYTON: Who’s Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE: Sarah Cornley is…

HISLOP: About fifteen grand in damages, wasn’t she?

(Uncertain audience laugh)

SAVILLE: That’s right.

HISLOP: So if I was going to mention that you threatened to break her arm if she said anything…

SAVILLE: You’d be very wrong. (Pause) I said I’d break both her arms.

(Audience unease)

MERTON: Fucking hell. I mean, you’re just sitting there, all shell suit and cigar wearing those fucking…I don’t know what they are.

SAVILLE: Chrome-plated SC-700 sun-visors, these are. Sent to me by…

MERTON: We don’t give a shit. Ladies and gentlemen, Sir James Saville OBE. Jim has fixed it for me to have my arms broken. Meet this depressing old fucked up cunt of a fucker on television who’s riddled with cancer and fucking pubic lice.

HISLOP: (To lawyer again) Hello! (Audience laughs)

MERTON: Christ, I mean ha ha, big fucking joke – the fucking lawyers are involved, tee hee. It doesn’t change anything.

DEAYTON:  (Visibly out of character) Do you wanna stop, or…?

MERTON: No I don’t fucking want to stop. It’s all shit! You’ll expect a comedy walkout in a minute, won’t you? I mean, big bloody joke – I’m going to quote Shakespeare in a minute, how fucking out of character. And Ian knows about football – oh my fucking sides.

SAVILLE: You’ve never fucked anyone in your life, boy.

MERTON: Oh fuck off…

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) …About five minutes, just to…(Phil Davey enters)

PHIL DAVEY: OK, well top that as they say. You’re looking troubled by that, aren’t you mate? I tell you, I came back from Amsterdam recently…

RECORDING PLACED ON STAND-BY; CUTS BACK TO CLOSE-UP OF DEAYTON

AWAITING HIS CUE

DEAYTON: OK. Second time lucky. (Pause) Last month, Roger Moore sold  his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the New York Times about his relaxed acting style…

______________________________

After I posted this blog, always well-informed comedian Richard Herring told me he believed the above was written several years ago by SOTCAA, who describe themselves as “a sort of loose rebel collective of BBC sketch writers”. And, indeed, the letter below (supplied by SOTCAA) confirms this was an excellent 1999 hoax. The full background on how and why the spoof transcript was written is explained in my blog HERE.

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Edinburgh Fringe: a 14 year old comic, Janey Godley and tales of a Tit Factory

Eternally relevant street art in Edinburgh

So far, I have bitten my tongue about the ticket incompetence at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

On my first day here, a ticket for a show (ordered ten days before from the Fringe Office) was not confirmed. The show started at 6.10pm. Eventually, at around 8.30pm, I got an e-mail to say the ticket had now been confirmed.

A couple of days ago, a ticket ordered even longer in advance never appeared (twice); I went to the venue press office instead; they arranged it; on the night, it was still not at the box office.

I never blogged about these (and similar) things because it’s impossible to know who cocked it up and, each year at the Fringe, different parts don’t work. You just have to accept it. That’s Fringe life. But it is just as well I did not complain. Yesterday it was me with the massive cock-up. Oooh missus!

Janey yesterday – not photographed by me

Comedian Janey Godley was at an event in Glasgow at lunchtime yesterday. New housing was being opened next to the pub she used to run in the Calton. The housing is named after St Thenue and Janey had been asked to donate a painting of St Thenue and to officially open the new housing with the Lord Provost of Glasgow. Why?

“I kept that building up,” she told me last week (you have to read her autobiography), “and, because of that, they had to build good, sympathetic architecture next door to it.”

“It’s your swirly painting?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “The one that looks like my mammy in the Clyde, but it’s St Thenue, who also ended up in the Clyde.”

I invited myself along to take photos and blog about it.

It happened yesterday.

Except I had put it in my Fringe schedule as happening today.

“Where are you?” a text from Janey said yesterday morning.

By that time, it was too late for me to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh.

Which was a bummer because, in all truth, it was going to be one of the highlights of my Edinburgh Fringe this year.

I allegedly edited Janey’s autobiography Handstands in the Dark – still in print and a book which gives Edgar Allan Poe a run for his money in horror. I have walked round Shettleston, where she grew up, and the Calton, where she ran a bar for 14 years. But not with her. It would have been fascinating. We had even talked about it last week.

She had been to see the new housing development in the Calton a couple of weeks before and had popped into her old bar next door.

”The guy who runs the pub now,” Janey told me, “is a guy I barred from the place back in the early 1990s. I told him I’ve just been to see the new houses and he says Aye, they’re just gonna be alcoholics and wife-beaters in there so I asked Have you got your name doon?

Anyway. I let Janey doon yesterday – often a physically dangerous thing to do, as others have found to their cost – and, while she was opening the housing in Glasgow with the Lord Provost and photos were being taken by her daughter Ashley, I was in Edinburgh watching 14-year-old stand-up comic Preston Nyman perform his Fringe show Shtick. (It is only on until Sunday.)

Preston Nyman wears well for 14

I had asked Janey’s daughter Ashley about this because in 1999, aged 13, she had performed her own comedy show What Were You Doing When You Were 13? at the Fringe.

“I can hardly remember it,” she told me. “I know I was ballsy and blatant about it all and everyone was very worried I would say something risqué by accident. But mostly I blanked it all out. I did enjoy it but, looking back, I think What the fuck was I doing? Who let me do that? I wasn’t made to do it. It was all my idea… but who let me do that?”

Preston was very professional, part 1950s Catskill joke purveyor, part fast-talking double glazing salesman. He even did sword-swallowing and persuaded a member of the audience to put his head in a guillotine. Aged 14, he has been, he says, performing since the age of 7 and was dressed in a rather 1950s outfit with blue blazer, frilly-fronted cream shirt and checked trousers.

Young Preston and his guillotine with perhaps foolish punter

“This is what I normally wear,” he told me after the show.

“Where on earth do you live?” I asked.

“Hammersmith in London,” he replied.

“It’s kinda Catskills Jewish,” I said. “The clothes and the act.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “It’s a kinda mix of vaudeville and 1970s ITV. All my life I’ve just loved performing and making people laugh and, seven years ago, I heard about this workshop Comedy Club 4 Kids. It’s every day, 5.30, at the Bongo Club during the Edinburgh Fringe, but I do it in London at the Soho Theatre.”

Preston’s dad is Andy Nyman actor, magician and co-creator/co-writer of the Derren Brown TV shows Derren Brown – Mind Control and Trick of the Mind. He has also co-written and co-directed four of Brown’s stage shows.

After the impressive shock of young Preston yesterday, I went to see the gloriously-titled musical Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory. The Fringe office had buggered-up the ticket for this too but, through Janey Godley, I contacted the show’s writer Paul Boyd and got a comp ticket (remember I’m a Scot brought up among Jews).

Paul Boyd wrote the intro and outro music for Janey and Ashley’s weekly podcast as well as eighteen previous musicals.

“Paul and I were on blog.co.uk back in 2004,” Janey told me. “He’s of the same ilk: he’s a performer, a writer, similar minds. We became friends and then this guy John Palmer from New York, a model, started talking to him and talking to me. Paul wrote to me and said You know, that guy John, I kinda fancy him and I said Go for it! He looks gorgeous and he sounds amazing!

“So then Paul phones me out of the blue – we’d never actually talked – and said I’m about to get on a plane and go to New York and meet John. I’ve given up my life, my lover. I’m gonna go. And he did and they’re still together after all these years.

“Then, a couple of years ago, me and Paul were in the Groucho Club in London with John one night and in walk some of my comedy friends. One of them was Tara Flynn. Paul is Irish, so I said jokingly Oh, Paul, you might know Tara Flynn – she’s also Irish. They screamed and hugged each other. I had been joking, but they’d been in a play together twelve years before and now she’s in Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory.”

And Molly Wobbly, I can say with total honesty, is astonishing.

It has more catchy tunes in it than all of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals combined. You could argue that’s not difficult but it’s still very very impressive. It is a combination of Rocky Horror style exuberance, British music hall jollity and the best of West End musicals.

All this plus a singalong song titled “When I Shouted ‘Fuck’ in the Manse”.

Whether it will play to Americans I don’t know, but its effervescent vitality is quite something to behold and, given that it got a lot of attention because the official Fringe Programme (which is very censorious this year) printed the title without any asterisks, there is a wry smile to be had at the very end of the performance with a change to the words in the title.

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