Tag Archives: custard

I do not know why five people fired guns at the owner of the Comedy Cafe

I never remember my dreams. I wish I did.

Well, maybe I remember them once every couple of years.

I got to bed at around 3.45am this morning. Don’t ask.

The alarm went off at 8.30am.

I remember a dream if I am woken up during one.

This morning, when the alarm woke me, I was dreaming that an act had fired a gun past Noel Faulkner’s head. He owns the Comedy Cafe in London and was auditioning potential performers. He ducked, rushed off sideways and said: “They’re deafening me!”

“That’s very insensitive,” I told the man with the gun. “You’re the fifth person who has shot at Noel today.”

Five performers had walked in and shot at him, thinking it was a good attention-grabbing opening to their act. I partly know where this dream comes from.

It is partly connected with custard pies.

I used to work as a researcher on the children’s TV show Tiswas, which was known for custard pies and slapstick. When I went to see potential acts, they often thought it would be hilarious to ‘pie’ the man from Tiswas. They were, they thought, bound to get on the show that way. To tell the truth, it was a bit wearisome.

I used to smile appreciatively when it happened.

But there are worse things.

Auditioning children near puberty is one of them.

One year, too many – far too many – children –  especially slightly-off-key girls – were singing the song Tomorrow (from Annie) at me in auditions. It was appalling. They were well-meaning and enthusiastic. But that made it all-the-more ghastly. It was like having your teeth drilled while someone sticks a screwdriver in your ear.

And we all know what that feels like.

Presenter Chris Tarrant told me he had had a worse year, when lots of twelve-year-old boys with their voices in the process of breaking were singing Bright Eyes at him – because it was the song of the moment and because their parents thought it was cute.

“It was horrible,” he told me. “You never, ever want to hear a boy, at puberty, sing Bright Eyes.”

Getting repeatedly shot at with blanks in a small room by people trying to impress you would probably run this pretty close in a contest, though.

I did once try to persuade the producer of Channel 4’s The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross that, just to get publicity and to create what I thought would be an Andy Kaufman-esque moment, during an interview and immediately before a commercial break, someone should run on-set with a blank gun and shoot Jonathan in the chest. He would have exploding blood capsules under his jacket.

The shots would be fired, blood would spurt from holes in his jacket and the director would cut to the commercial break. After the commercials, Jonathan would re-appear in a duplicate jacket without any bullet holes and make no reference to what had happened.

“The regulators would not like it,” I was told.

The producer was probably right.

I was telling this story to someone yesterday.

Which must be why guns with blanks made an appearance in my dream.

How poor Noel Faulkner got involved, I have no idea.

There was a smell of cordite in the air, mixed with the smell of highly-whipped shaving foam.

On Tiswas, the ‘custard’ pies were actually made of highly-whipped shaving foam and other ingredients. The little bubbles of air in the highly-whipped shaving foam made the ‘pies’ stick to people, but it could be wiped-off quickly and cleanly.

People never used that formula when they ‘pied’ you as the visiting researcher from Tiswas, though. They used real custard pies.

Dreams are less messy.

You can wipe the blood away.

I wish I could remember them.

A whole world of surrealism is passing me by.

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The “Tiswas” recipe for attacking Rupert Murdoch and others with pies

Yesterday, a friend of mine was having an operation, so I was at Blackheath Hospital.

This meant I was hanging around in a room waiting for most of the day and saw most of the live coverage from the House of Commons where the Culture, Media and Sport Committee were questioning Rupert and James Murdoch.

But, inevitably – Sod’s Law – because my friend came out of the operating theatre at the same time, I missed Jonnie Marbles aka Jonathan May-Bowles trying to ‘flan’ Rupert with a shaving foam pie.

I saw it later.

My friend is fine.

I am not so sure about Jonnie Marbles.

This piece of desperate self-publicity would normally make him worthy of being nominated for – and possibly winning – the annual Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award but, alas, young Jonnie appears to have fallen at the first hurdle in the process. He does not seem have a show at the Edinburgh Fringe and, if he does, he failed to plug it.

Yesterday, the Free Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe suddenly had two cancellations, so my advice to him is Forget that free phone call to the lawyer. Get on the blower to the Free Festival, get a show booked at the Edinburgh Fringe sharpish and pray for a Cunning Stunt Award nomination/win.

Being imprisoned and unable to perform in Edinburgh might interfere with the show but might actually boost his chances of getting a Cunning Stunt Award.

Our House of Commons pie-flinger whom the Chortle comedy website calls “an occasional comic” seems to be a serial stunt-publicist and I can only presume he was jointly influenced by two things.

The first influence would obviously be self-proclaimed ‘comedy terrorist’ Aaron Barschak who gate-crashed Prince William’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle in 2003 dressed as Osama bin Laden in a pink dress. His subsequent Edinburgh Fringe show failed to live up to this pre-publicity boost and the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award had not yet started, so Aaron tragically failed to build his career on the stunt.

Jonnie’s second influence might well have been the cultural effect of large numbers of a previous generation of Brits watching the cult children’s TV show Tiswas, on which I worked as a researcher.

It was known for its slapstick outbreaks of gunge and custard pies.

In a selfless spirit of public service, I print below the ‘official’ recipe for a Tiswas custard pie, copied from an alleged official recipe sheet which I half-inched when the show ended. Tiswas ‘custard pies’ were made not of custard but of whipped shaving foam.

Custard would have slid down the target’s clothes, could have stained them and might have involved the programme in laundry costs and complaints. Shaving foam stuck where it hit and wiped off with no significant after-effects.

The main custard pie flinger on Tiswas was a Ninja-like character called The Phantom Flan Flinger.

Far be it from me to try and get blatant publicity out of the wanton, appalling and unprovoked attack on defenceless media tycoon Rupert Murdoch by saying that the Tiswas tradition continues this year at the Edinburgh Fringe with the first Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest.

But can I point out that the Tiswas tradition continues this year at the Edinburgh Fringe with the first Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest?

This is the somewhat vague Tiswas recipe:

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TISWAS CUSTARD PIE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

– Economy Size Gillette Shaving Foam **

– Vegetable dye. The Phantom Flan Flinger suggests green or blue dye but advises against red dye as this tends to cause irritation and blotches.

– Paper plate(s)

– Palette knife. – Mixing bowl or large bowl/bucket (depending on the amount needed)

********

Spray shaving foam into mixing bowl remembering to keep enough spare for decoration.

Add vegetable dye and mix together.

Smooth over paper plate(s) with palette knife.

Finally decorate around the edges with white shaving foam.

Before use, this should be left for a few hours to eliminate the sting that the shaving foam has.

Then proceed with flanning!

Old T-shirts and such like to be worn during flan matches in case of stains. Clothes washed afterwards to be soaked in cold water first.

HAPPY CUSTARD PIES!

** Alternative: Crazy Foam from local joke shop. Or Instant Whip available from most supermarkets.

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