“New York Jewish comic Lewis Schaffer has landed a Palestinian sponsor for his five star Edinburgh Fringe show Lewis Schaffer: You are Beautiful.”
Yesterday, he followed this up with a press release headed: Lewis Schaffer to crowdfund for his hit Edinburgh Show.
New York Jewish comic Lewis Schaffer is crowdfunding for his Five Star Edinburgh Fringe show Lewis Schaffer: You are Beautiful.
In yet another attempt to come up with new revenue streams, Lewis Schaffer has entered the world of crowdfunding.
Already this year Lewis Schaffer has accepted sponsorship from a Palestinian-owned freight company that serves the Middle East, now he has set up a crowd funding site.
Benefactors of Lewis Schaffer’s campaign will get the following rewards:
Purchasing one £10 ticket gets you one ticket to Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful at Just the Tonic Community Project, Five Stars in The Scotsman.
Purchasing two £10 tickets gets you two tickets to Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful at Just the Tonic Community Project, Five Stars in The Scotsman.
Purchasing four £10 tickets gets you four tickets to Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful at Just the Tonic Community Project, Five Stars in The Scotsman.
Purchasing ten £10 tickets gets you ten tickets to Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful at Just the Tonic Community Project, Five Stars in The Scotsman.
Purchasing 100 £10 tickets gets you 100 tickets to Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful at Just the Tonic Community Project, Five Stars in The Scotsman.
No 2: ELLIS & ROSE’S BEGGING LETTER
Ellis & Rose gave Copstick a red letter day
This week, I was shown a red letter – literally a red letter – by Kate Copstick, the most influential comedy critic at the Edinburgh Fringe. It read:
We’re writing this letter to try to convince you to review our Edinburgh show this year, because we can’t afford a PR person and our hard-working producer is doing our PR (and everything else) for free – but she obviously has no clout because we’ve had no press stuff in the run up to the Fringe – not that anyone really reads that bollocks anyway.
We have worked really hard on making our show this year and we think we have a chance of impressing you enough to beat the three star review you gave us in 2013.
Rose (left, without shirt) and Ellis (right, in dress) last night
Things are on the up. There seem to be a rising number of comedy clubs in London which are not just putting on very samey bills of 5-male-comics-doing-stand-up. There are several now staging genuine variety nights and filling their venues.
I saw a Brainwash show last night, headlined by Harry Hill who, although he could be described as a straight stand-up, is considerably more weird than that.
I won’t even attempt to explain what was going on here
Tom Ward was, I suppose, the genuine token stand-up act. Other acts on the bill were sketch trio The Birthday Girls, Neil Frost (of The Spectacular Spectrum of Now) as moustachioed Victorian ‘Gentleman Johnson’ who ended up in a boxing match with a genuinely feisty girl from the audience, Casual Violence creator James Hamilton in a double character act, Mr Susie only partially on planet Earth and Lipstick & Wax doing a standard but nonetheless astonishing magic act.
So… one stand-up, six excellent variety acts, not a dud anywhere and Ellis & Rose impressively managing to be both effective MCs and constantly anarchic in themselves.
Perhaps London comedy clubs are changing.
They certainly have to.
Joe Palermo, Italian stallion, in Soho tonight
In the meantime, people are preparing potential Edinburgh Fringe shows for next year.
One of the most interesting could be Joe Palermo’s Mémoires of an Italian Stallion.
I saw an initial try-out tonight which took around 70 minutes and did not get even halfway through the story, which involves his somewhat colourful life.
From what I heard tonight and during a post-show chat at the Grouchy Club, I reckon his story might take about four hours or longer to tell – if heavily edited.
It will be interesting to see how this fits into a 55-minute Edinburgh Fringe slot. The briefest of headings would include:
him as a child in Italy (watching porn on TV in the back garden)
attempts to be a Roman teenage gigolo
crime and the drug trade
modelling and becoming a male stripper
porn movie experiences
encounters with ‘proper’ movie people including stories of Cinecittà, famous actors and spaghetti western people
Joe says: “The show at this stage is mainly for a male audience, however open minded women or girls are welcome.”
I told him I thought Edinburgh audiences might crucify him atop Arthur’s Seat for sexism.
But, if his Mémoires of an Italian Stallion show does make the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016, it will surely be an interesting ride.
“Shall we get the plug out of the way?” asked Ellis.
“OK,” I said.
So Harry Hill is appearing in Ellis & Rose’s Brainwash Club evening at the Backyard Comedy Club in London’s Bethnal Green this coming Wednesday. The bill also includes the Birthday Girls, James Hamilton, Lipstick & Wax, Tim Renkow and Mr Susie… And Ellis and Rose.
“He’s been on before, hasn’t he?” I asked. “Harry Hill.”
“Yeah,” said Ellis, “in February.”
“I think I was there,” I said. “I have a shit memory.”
“Yeah,” said Rose, “you drew on your knee.”
“I drew on my knee?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Rose. “We got you up on stage and everyone drew on their knees during the interval.”
“Were you heavily sedated?” Ellis asked me.
“We threw felt-tip pens into the audience,” Rose reminded me.
“No,” I said. “I don’t remember any of that at all. This Pret a Manger closes in ten minutes. Give me two bizarre anecdotes and that’s the blog done and you can piss off.”
Perhaps I HAVE met John Kearns. I have a photo of Jon Brittain (right) with John Kearns
“The other day,” Ellis said, “John Kearns told me that I should rock up for this chat with you in a car made of cake.”
“Rock up?” I asked. “Is that what the kids on the street are saying nowadays?”
“Yes,” said Ellis. “Do you want an anecdote or not?”
“I have to insert myself,” I explained, “otherwise people might think I just slavishly copy down other people’s lines.”
“You didn’t take issue,” Ellis pointed out, “with having a car made of cake. Only with ‘rock up’. What does that say about you?”
“It says,” I replied, “that I am a man who cares about words but not about you.”
“…or content,” suggested Rose.
“…or cake,” said Ellis.
“I have never met John Kearns,” I said. “I seem to have met everyone who ever went to university with him, but never him.”
“So?” Rose asked.
“Nice hair,” I told Ellis.
“I think he looks like a half pint of Guinness,” said Rose.
“And next year,” Rose added, “we have a producer and director for the first time. Can we talk about our…”
“No,” I said. “This Pret a Manger closes in ten minutes.”
“…about what has changed,” Ellis completed.
“We’ve got new suits,” explained Rose.
“Why?” I asked.
“Most people,” said Ellis, “don’t even get changed when they do their shows. They wear the clothes they have on the street. We dress up. I know how to tie a bow tie. Not a real one, but I know how to put on a clip-on. We have to be careful when we chat to you, because you edit like a bitch.”
“A bitch?” I asked.
“A sly little dog,” said Ellis.
“You take out any nuance so that it’s sensationalist…” said Rose.
“…and make us seem like actual idiots,” said Ellis.
“Actual idiots?” I asked.
“Actual,” said Ellis.
“The new suits,” explained Rose, “were because we thought we needed an overhaul.”
Ellis and Rose in their new suits with a new work dynamic
“So,” I said, “given the choice of writing a new script or buying new suits, you chose the suits.”
“We’re working on it,” said Ellis.
“And, to be fair,” said Rose, “the dynamic on stage has changed. It used to be kind of aggressive and shouty. Now it’s a bit more conversational and two people having fun.”
“I think it’s less stressful to watch,” said Ellis.
“When you die,” Rose told me, “we are going to carry on your blog by ghost-writing it.”
“Just stereotypical John Fleming blog posts,” said Ellis. “so one will be Lewis Schaffer repeating his name for a whole blog – or photos of him with grey hair and black hair. It’ll be: Lewis Schaffer, Lewis Schaffer…”
“And then,” said Rose, “we will do one of your diary extracts from 1927 in which you had a dream…”
“…about how it reminded you of your mother,” suggested Ellis. “And then we’ll get someone from Canada to write to us and put that in.”
“And,” enthused Rose, “we’ll get Kate Copstick to say something controversial.”
There is a video on YouTube of Copstick plugging the Mama Biashara emporium in 2010. Things have only changed for the better.
While Matt Roper was at Mama Biashara last night, I was off elsewhere. It was my birthday.
During the evening, Kate Copstick posted this on her Facebook page:
We’ve got wonderful character comic Matt Roper visiting the emporium to see a show tonight. For those who don’t know him, he’s the man behind the vile but utterly loveable powerhouse creation of Wilfredo, of whom I had the good fortune to witness last year at the Fringe. Due to an error at The Scotsman, my review of his show only gave three stars when in fact it ought to have been a full five. He’s up at the Fringe once again this year in Routines, a new immersive comedy experience which I predict will smash the Festival this year (3.45pm at the Three Sisters). Those who haven’t seen Matt at work are highly recommended to do so. A huge comic talent.
Facebook posting that set it all off, sent from Mama Biashara
I re-posted it on my Facebook accounts and thought no more about it until I got a Facebook message a little later from Matt. It said simply:
Just fraped Copstick.
I had to look this up. The online Wiktionary’s first definition of ‘frape’ was:
A crowd, a rabble.
This seemed unlikely.
The Wiktionary’s second definition was:
(Internet slang) To hijack, and meddle with, someone’s Facebook account while it is unattended.
Uh-oh, I thought.
And, sure enough, Matt had written the glowing review of himself (with the fake Scotsman stars) on Copstick’s computer while she had been off dealing with the Fringe preview in the Mama Biashara performance space.
I was not the only one who was taken in; there was widespread re-posting and Tweeting.
This morning, the real Copstick posted on her Facebook page:
So here’s a thing: Matt Roper popped by the Mama Biashara Emporium last night to pick up his typewriter. I leave him alone with my desktop for FIVE MINUTES and I wake up this morning to find FB wet with excitement over something I had apparently posted on the subject of how fabulous and talented he is and how the Scotsman stars were a misprint and should have been five. Yes I think he is pretty good and yes, to be fair, he did give me two slices of his pizza… but even John Bloody Fleming reposted the thing! Are my posts usually so fulsome in their praise? Well, I will be going along to see Routines (see place and times on ‘my’ previous posting) and it had better be FUCKING BRILLIANT, Roper!
A few hours later, Copstick posted:
They are still sharing Matt Roper’s fucking fake fucking fabulous fucking posting on my page about him and fucking WilfuckingFredo and RouFuckingTines. WTF.
Matt just did this publicity stunt on a whim; there was no advance planning. But it is a thing of beauty. A contender (I would think) for this year’s Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.
It did not just publicise Matt and his show but did so by making people not only fall for a con (as I did) but setting it up so that other people did the real work – all the people who were taken in and re-posted and re-Tweeted the initial frape.
It also, in this year – the tenth anniversary of Malcolm Hardee’s death – managed to doff a hat to one of Malcolm’s own legendary Edinburgh stunts. The one in which he and Arthur Smith wrote a glowing review of Malcolm’s Fringe show and submitted it to The Scotsman under the name of William Cook, the newspaper’s own highly-esteemed comedy reviewer – and it was, indeed published.
Matt’s stunt was almost better than this, in that he did not even have to write a fake review of his own show – he merely referred to an existing review and twisted perception of reality.
A desperate pose with Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award
Only a few days ago, I had been lamenting to myself that no cunning stunts had, as yet, appeared publicising a Fringe show or performer this year.
Ellis & Rose (as I mentioned in an April blog) had pretended they had appeared at Soho Theatre by hanging their own carefully-designed photo on the wall of the theatre’s bar. But they have no show in Edinburgh this year.
And, a few days ago, there was a brilliant publicity stunt by magicians Young & Strange who, while a Sky TV reporter talked to camera about government NHS reforms, staged a variation of the sawing-a-man-in-half trick behind him, on the green in front of Parliament.
This stunt got even better when it transpired that the whole thing was fake – it was not a real Sky reporter, nor a real Sky transmission, just a beautifully-crafted fake and one of a series of Young & Strange self publicity stunts aimed at getting broadcasters’ attention.
I would think this wonderful stunt would have been a sure cert for a Cunning Stunt nomination – if it were not for the fact Young and Strange are not plugging any Edinburgh Fringe show.
At least Matt Roper has now set a high benchmark to which others can aspire.
I spotted it in November last year. I told Ellis and Rose that, if they managed to keep the picture on the wall until the start of the Edinburgh Fringe in August, I might well give them a special Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.
The Soho Theatre’s Tweet yesterday
Alas, yesterday, Soho Theatre spotted the rogue photograph and took it down. The esteemed London theatre Tweeted:
HA! This lot have skipped the Soho show & put themselves ont’ photo wall regardless. 5* for Effort. (@jameshamilton).
Why was James Hamilton mentioned? Because the caption on the photo said:
Ellis & Rose (2014) Photo J Hamilton
In fact, James had not taken the photo and had not even known about it until I told him last December when I, as it were, shot him underneath it. (The spoof photograph was actually taken by Charlie Dinkin.)
Obviously, today I had a chat with Ellis about all these shenanigans.
“We put the picture up in October last year,” he told me. “We met Steve Marmion (the artistic director of Soho Theatre) once at a party and he knew about our Edinburgh shows but said he didn’t think we were ready to appear in the Soho Theatre.
Ellis, shocked earlier today, with Wall of Fame behind him
“So we decided we would appear but we would skip doing a show and just go straight to appearing on the Wall of Fame. We had a bigger picture than Tim Minchin.
“We sat in the booth one day and, just out of curiosity, decided to see if we could take the pictures off the wall. We took Lady Rizo’s picture off the wall and measured up the photo using the Soho Theatre’s laminated menu.
“We had access to a photo studio rig and we took pictures and then they were edited to look like we were performing in a ‘black box’ studio theatre space and then we copied the style of the captions and got one printed.
“We went to Soho Theatre with it in a bag, ready to put it up but then realised they had replaced Lady Rizo’s A4 picture with an A3 one. So we grabbed another performer’s picture and replaced his photo.”
“Why,” I asked, “did you put James Hamilton on the caption as the photographer?”
Realising loss of a potential Malcolm Hardee Award
“We just wanted to put on the name of someone who would find it amusing. We told him he should go to the Soho Theatre and have a look around, but apparently he didn’t see it for a month.”
“Not until I showed it to him,” I said. “But, judging from their Tweet yesterday, Soho Theatre seem to have taken it all in good spirit.”
“Yes,” said Ellis, “And I see from their photo on Twitter that they’ve actually re-framed our picture in another frame. So they must rate it. Are they going to put it up somewhere in their office or what?”
“Probably what,” I told him.
The rogue photograph with face of Soho Theatre’s artistic director Steve Marmion drawn on balloon. (Photograph by Charlie Dinkin.)
Yesterday, I went to Malcolm Hardee Award winning Ellis & Rose’s irregular Brainwash Club show at the Backyard Comedy Club in London’s Bethnal Green. The full house saw a knee-face-painting contest and the hosting duo accidentally knock over and almost terminally smash punster Darren Walsh’s MacBook computer… twice.
The audience also saw Harry Hill, Jody Kamali, Harriet Kemsley, Darren Walsh, John Henry Falle as The Story Beast and Matt Tedford as a singing Margaret Thatcher.
To publicise his Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho show, he had walked round town dressed as Margaret Thatcher.
“I got kicked in the street,” he told me.
“Why?” I asked innocently.
“Because they didn’t like the poll tax. I got heckled nearly every day about the poll tax and Scottish independence – it was about a month before the vote. I’ve been a gay man for about ten years and it’s the only time I’ve ever had any abuse.”
“Did they not,” I asked, “realise that Margaret Thatcher was very dead and you were not actually her?”
Matt as Margaret last night at the Brainwash in Bethnal Green
“Well,” Matt told me, “they went for it anyway. I got things thrown at me – you name it. One woman threw-up in her handbag and that nearly came at me and a lot of people launched themselves onto the stage. Pulling the wig was popular.”
“But,” I checked, “you were actually being attacked outside in the street for being a famous dead politician…”
“Oh yes. And what could I do? Report it to the police? – I’ve just been attacked – Why? – I was dressed as Margaret Thatcher.”
“And then,” I suggested, “the police might have kicked you.”
“Exactly,” said Matt. “Margaret Thatcher’s ex-bodyguard came to the show and told me afterwards: You’ve not changed a bit, ma’am.
“And these two little old dears came and sat in the front row – very pearls, twin-set and blue-rinse – and they came up to me afterwards and said: We were her nurses towards the end of her life. One told me: I saw her tits… Oh, I said. How were they… Very good for an old bird, she said.”
The Malcolm Hardee Awards await collection near Edinburgh
Every August at the Edinburgh Fringe, I give away three increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards in memory of the godfather of British alternative comedy. One of these is a Cunning Stunt Award for the best stunt publicising a Fringe show or act.
And every year, around this time, people ask me for the definition of Cunning.
Well, non-cunning stunts are easy to think up. You can walk up and down the High Street in Edinburgh wearing a read nose and handing out flyers.
That is a stunt but is in no way cunning.
Kate Talbot’s increasingly prestigious Cunning Stunt Award
Last year, the Cunning Stunt Award went to comedian Christian Talbot and his 12 year-old daughter Kate.
Cute Kate would wander around the streets outside Christian’s venue looking sad and distraught, go up to strangers and say plaintively: “Have you seen my daddy?”
When they replied in the negative, she would tell them: “Well, you should, because Kate Copstick of The Scotsman says he’s an engaging performer” and give them a flyer.
Lewis Schaffer – a man not unused to cunning publicity stunts
In 2009 – a year when Perrier stopped sponsoring some other less increasingly prestigious awards – Lewis Schaffer won the Cunning Stunt Award for a fake press release which fooled several publications into printing stories (which they believed) saying he was taking over sponsorship of the awards for £99 and was re-naming them The Lewies. This resulted in a threat of legal action from the awards’ organiser and his agent sacked him. But he did win the Cunning Stunt Award, so it wasn’t all gloom and doom..
The Award started in 2008 when performer Gill Smith sent me an email saying she was nominating herself for the main Malcolm Hardee Award on the basis that, if she nominated herself in the email, she could justifiably put on her posters: MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD NOMINEE. She thought Malcolm would have approved. I agreed and gave her the first Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.
One of Malcolm’s own cunning stunts at the Fringe, of course, was the year when he and Arthur Smith wrote a glowing review of Malcolm’s own show and put it in a tray at The Scotsman under the name of that august publication’s own reviewer William Cook. The Scotsman printed it, thinking it was a legitimate review.
Bob Slayer found another way to influence Kate Copstick
Another legendary stunt was the year Scotsman critic Kate Copstick (a Malcolm Hardee Awards judge) gave comedian Jason Wood’s show a 1-star review. He immediately plastered his posters and flyers with the strapline: “A STAR” – THE SCOTSMAN.
These are definitive cunning stunts.
Last year (or it might have been two years ago – I have a shit memory) an act publicised his show by having lots of ginger haired people march through Glasgow.
I got a vitriolic letter later from a PR man berating me for not nominating this for the Cunning Stunt Award because the stunt had got worldwide press and TV coverage.
But it was not in any way a cunning stunt. It was just a stunt – and a little odd as it happened in Glasgow. It was no different to walking up and down the Royal Mile wearing a red nose. There was no con involved.
In 2013, Barry Ferns rightly won the Cunning Stunt Award for a series of stunts including publishing fake editions of Edinburgh Fringe review sheets Broadway Baby and Three Weeks publicising his own show, but we sort-of gave a second award (which we called the Pound of Flesh Award) to Ellis & Rose.
Comic Ellis was prepared to do anything for publicity…
Ellis had been beaten-up in the street by a punter angry about the duo’s Jimmy Savile comedy show.
Except it never happened. In fact, Ellis’ comedy partner Rose had repeatedly punched him in the face to give him a bruised cheek and genuine black eye… all to get a few inches of column space publicising themselves and their shows.
Like Lewis Schaffer doing a stunt in 2009 which lost him his agent, this seemed commendably OTT in stunt terms. And definitely cunning.
All this comes to mind because, a couple of weeks ago, Simon Caine invited me to be on his Ask The Industry podcast in the mistaken belief that I am increasingly prestigious in the comedy world and that he might get a Cunning Stunt Award for setting up a podcast solely so he could plug himself to allegedly influential people.
Previous interviewees had included Julian Hall (former comedy reviewer for the Independent and former Malcolm Hardee Awards judge), Alex Petty of the Laughing Horse comedy clubs and Edinburgh Free Festival) and Hils Jago (of the Amused Moose clubs and Comedy Awards).
Simon Caine has another cunning idea – interviewing clothes
I told Simon that, if you set up a podcast simply to plug yourself to the people you invite on it, that is a commendable stunt but not a cunning stunt.
It would only be a cunning stunt if you invited people to the podcast recording, spoke to them for an hour and actually there was no podcast.
Sadly, he has scuppered his chances because there is a (very good) ongoing series of podcasts.
He has suggested he can get round this by never uploading the podcast with me or by not uploading it until September – after the Fringe has finished – but I am currently not convinced.
Watch this space.
This year, Ellis & Rose already have a cunning stunt up-and-running. I have told them, if they can keep it going successfully until August without anyone noticing, I will nominate them for a Cunning Stunt Award (provided they actually do use it in August to publicise an Edinburgh Fringe show).
“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.
“It was a milk whisk,” said Rich, correcting me. Then he mentioned to Richard: “I saw your Eat a Queer FoetusFor 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 FoetusFor 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) & 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 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. Thensomeone 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.”
“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.
“There is a double act called Ellis & Rose,” Copstick explained to the audience. “They phoned me today..”
“Oh, you too!” I said.
In the Fringe Programme, Jim Davidson’s show and the spoof funeral show are next to each other
“They’re doing a one-off show,” Copstick continued, “called Jim Davdson’s Funeral, which one cannot help but feel is going to be a bit anti-Jim Davidson. They wanted to invite him to The Grouchy Club tomorrow and ‘have a heated debate’. But I don’t really see why Jim Davidson would want to come here considering that, whatever he is offstage, he is technically a brilliant comedian.
“It really irritates me when a lot of baby-boy comics and – even worse – baby-harridan comics get up on their hind legs to criticise him when they are doing – supposedly ironically – quite a lot of racist, sexist stuff themselves. They are just dressing it up and he doesn’t. I don’t think I’d laugh like a drain if I went and saw his show, but I really… It’s a horrible… It’s… Look, I interviewed Richard Herring and he said that the very first time he came up to the Fringe was in 1987, right at the height of the alternative comedy ‘We Hate Thatcher’ mood.
The Young Herring (left) went to Edinburgh with Stewart Lee
“Richard came up here with the Oxford Footlights. He and Stewart Lee were both involved with the Oxford Footlights; Stewart mainly as a writer.
“Richard was really excited. It was his first time ever in Edinburgh and all these comics were listed as being here who were his idols and whom he loved.
“But, for the whole first week, every time they went on stage, there was a contingent of alternative comics heckling and booing them. One time, Keith Allen completely disrupted the show and ended up punching the theatre manager in the face.
“The thing is all of the boys in that Footlights show were from comprehensive schools. None of them were posh. They were just clever boys from comprehensive schools who had done really well. But the ‘alternative’ lot were so far up themselves about how marvellously ‘right on’ they were that they didn’t even stop to find out.
“I think there still is a kind of Fascism in comedy that thinks We are the right-thinking ones! You are bad!”
Jim Davidson’s current Edinburgh show
At this point, Malcolm Hardee Comedy Show helper Stephen O’Donnell suggested from the audience: “Some old comics get to re-invent themselves but, maybe because of what’s happened with him in the last ten years, Jim Davidson might be beyond that possible re-invention. You have to go away to come back and, because he has been newsworthy in the last five years, he is not really able to go away and come back. So he really just has to go on and show he can do what he does.”
“Also,” said Robert Dawson Scott, “he’s made it difficult for himself because, before the arrest and all that stuff, he very clearly positioned himself as ‘not alternative’. He thought they were not funny and he was rude about them. He may have some bridges to build.
“I gather,” he continued, “that most of his show is about being arrested, which is why it’s called No Further Action. Clearly it was an unpleasant experience – although possibly comedy gold.”
“And,” said Copstick, “if somebody else had been doing it, everybody would be going Yah! The police are terrible! But, because it’s Jim Davidson, they go: Oh, there’s no smoke without fire.”
Kate Copstick & Steve Bennett: The Counting House last night
Yesterday evening, I accidentally bumped into Copstick again in the queue for Scots comic Richard Gadd’s show. Also in the queue, was Chortle comedy website boss Steve Bennett.
Richard Gadd recognised Copstick and Steve and, in a show of bravery, sat them in the front row. I sat with them. It must have been a comic’s worst nightmare in the small venue: performing at times only about 18 inches away from the two most-read reviewers in British comedy… and a fat, bald bloke who was clearly a bit too old for a comedy show.
Towards the end, Richard Gadd started eating the heads off flowers.
After the show, Copstick said to me: “It’s a bit dangerous eating flowers. Some can be poisonous.”
“He’s probably researched it is OK to eat those particular ones,” I suggested. Then I thought about Richard Gadd’s show. “Maybe not,” I added.
Heather Stevens in normal Edinburgh pose
I went to bed early last night – early for Edinburgh – just before 2.00am.
At 1.56am, I got a text from Heather Stevens, the primus inter pares of comedian Lewis Schaffer’s entourage. Heather is a woman who seems to know everyone and to be everywhere at this year’s Fringe. Her text said simply:
“The phrase John Fleming’s spunk in her eye featured in Jeff Leach‘s rap battle against Sofie Hagen tonight.”
I know no more, dear reader, except that I am innocent. I have never talked at any length with Jeff Leach. I have never talked at all to Sofie Hagen. I have a notoriously bad memory but, if such an incident had happened, I feel sure even I would have remembered it.
All I know is that I feel soiled. Desperately soiled.
The Chortle comedy website reviewed it with the words: “It’s an insult… It could have been a provocative show. It could have been a silly show. It could have been a satirical show. But it should surely at least have been a show.”
The other reviews were… equally interesting. The London Is Funny comedy website gave the show 1-star as “a steaming pile of horse shit”. Slightly better was The Skinny, which gave it 3-stars and said it was “good, knockabout fun done in a deliberately half-arsed way” and Outsider Comedy gave it 5-stars and said it was “a new style of comedy that is years ahead of its time”.
Admittedly, Outsider Comedy is actually just their fellow comedian Mike Belgrave, but Ellis & Rose know how to concoct good publicity from bad.
They won a highly-coveted Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award at the Fringe when a member of the public hit Ellis in the face in the street and gave him a massive black eye for daring to perform Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show.
Well, they didn’t get the Award for that.
They got it when it was revealed in this blog that, in fact, it was a publicity stunt and Rose had repeatedly punched his comedy partner Ellis full-force in the face to get the required effect… all to publicise their show. They even videoed the beating and posted it on YouTube:
They know how to milk a show for publicity. So it came as no surprise to get a message from Ellis yesterday. It said:
Not normal even for Norwich – the poster
We are putting Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show on in Norwich for one night (next Monday 18th November) before we hit The Brixton Dogstar in London with it on the 28th. We had arranged a lovely Norwich venue, which was to be the Hog in Armour pub and we sent out all the listings information.
The day after that, I got a phone call from the manager telling me the pub owners had reacted badly to having a Jimmy Savile show in their venue – and could we change the title? If not, they told us, we would have to cancel.
The owners of the pub apparently also own a family holiday park and didn’t want Jimmy Savile in their pub and – of course – they wrongly thought that something called Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show is somehow going to be totally pro-Savile…
I suggested we change the title to Sir Uncle Jim’s Unwanted Spitroast, which didn’t go down well… but then it never does.
They said the show would have to be cancelled. I said OK. But I am not one to give up in the face of adversity so, the very same day, I made a lot of phone calls and arranged a new venue – Now we are going to perform the show in a lovely place called Olives Cafe Bar, who are very supportive of us and our Jimmy.
I have no idea if any of the above is true.
It sounds likely.
But, in Edinburgh, I saw Ellis’ very painful black eye and it never entered my head that he had been beaten up by his comedy partner. They know how to drum up shock and publicity.
Now to the future…
Could Ellis be cruising for another bruising: a real one?
For readers who do not live in the UK, in 2010, a man recently released from prison – Raoul Moat – shot his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend and a policeman using a sawn-off shotgun.
The new boyfriend was killed, the ex-girlfriend wounded and the policeman permanently blinded. Moat then went on the run for six days and, when cornered by police for six hours, eventually shot himself.
Two years later, the blinded policeman was found hanged at his home.
On Ellis’ Facebook page, there is currently a posting which says:
Turning the Raoul Moat Saga into an opera. Need a composer to do the music. Anyone?… Raoul Moat really is a great name for the tragic protagonist of an opera… Don Giovanni, Figaro, Raoul Moat…