Tag Archives: fool

A Fool and his comedy crown are soon parted in a world of murderous animals

Muncaster Castle - lovely, if isolated

Muncaster Castle – lovely, slightly eccentric and a bit isolated (Perhaps like the psychological make-up of many performers)

Yesterday I was in the Lake District in north west England. It is a lovely area but not for me. Cumbria is one vast hilly area widely bereft of WiFi or even mobile phone signals.

If the choice is between having WiFi, mobile phone signals and 24-hour supermarkets in a city… or living 20 miles from the nearest chocolate shop in idyllic countryside surrounded by the agonised howls and screams of cuddly woodland creatures ripping each others throats out every night, give me the city every time.

Cumbria is very pretty except for Barrow-in-Furness.

As an ITV researcher on Surprise! Surprise!, I once had to go there to talk to a blind man who wanted us to make his dream come true by helping him make a parachute jump. I saw Barrow-in-Furness in heavy drizzle. He was lucky to be blind.

We were going to arrange a (perfectly safe) parachute jump for him but, about a week after I met him, BBC TV managed to kill a contestant on Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show and we decided to abort anything which sounded even potentially dangerous.

Abi Collins aka Katinka - Muncaster’s first female Fool

Abi Collins aka Katinka – the first female Fool

Anyway, I was in Cumbria yesterday to see Martin Soan end his year-long reign as Fool of Muncaster Castle and hand the title on to the new Fool – chosen by a panel of experts.

Abi Collins aka Katinka won it – the first female Fool in the contest’s short history.

“What did you have to do all year?” I asked Martin.

“Absolutely nothing,” he told me.

“Wasn’t there something about beer?” I asked.

“The prize was free alcohol for the year,” said Martin, “but you had to be in Muncaster Castle to get your free beer and I live in London.”

Yesterday, he rushed back down to London after the day-long Muncaster Castlle event, to set up tonight’s Pull The Other One monthly comedy show in Nunhead.

“And then you’re off to do Pull The Other One in Leipzig?” I asked.

“Yes, on Sunday,” he replied. “… No! I leave for Leipzig on Monday! On Sunday, I’m writing a new show with Boothby Graffoe.”

Martin Soan yesterday with ceramic cigarette end in hat

Martin Soan yesterday with ceramic cigarette-end in his hat

“For the Edinburgh Fringe?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“For this year?”

“No. Next year.”

“What is it?”

“It’s taking all the tiny little elements I’ve been working on for years and years that I’ve made part successful and I now want to thread them all together into a beautiful tapestry of well-choreographed nonsense, madness and chaotic, sublime comedy.”

“Ye Gods,” I said, “You’ve already written the PR blurb, then?”

I relax in the grounds of Muncaster Castle yesterday (Photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

I try to feel at home in the rural grounds of Muncaster Castle (Idyllic photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

“It wasn’t bad, was it?” laughed Martin, “but that’s exactly what I want to do.”

“Why with Boothby?” I asked.

“Because it’s a huge jigsaw puzzle, he knows me inside-out, it’s difficult to be objective and he’s very good at turning rubbish into sparkling gems.”

“I know the feeling,” I said.

I sometimes wonder if the blind man ever made his parachute jump.

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Comedy news: Martin Soan is a fool; Viv Soan in court; Matt Roper mugged

BBC photo of Martin at the fool show

BBC photo of Martin the fool, but he is no fool on payment.

After my ongoing jury service yesterday, I went to the Pull The Other One comedy club run by Vivienne and Martin Soan only to find out that Vivienne has also been called up to do jury service next month.

Perhaps the court system was in awe of her husband Martin who, last weekend, was crowned “official fool” at the annual International Jesters’ Tournament at Muncaster Castle in the Lake District and who receives an annual salary in beer. (Martin is clearly no fool.)

Miss Behave showed her class last night

Miss Behave was showing her class last night

Last night, Pull The Other One had an even more extraordinarily varied bill than normal with the utterly brilliant Men In Coats doing their visual gagathon, the surreal Cheekykita doing whatever it was she was doing (that’s a compliment), Mr Susie getting bigger laughs than most comics by simply holding up one-word gags on cards and close harmony trio Totes Awes strutting their thing.

Topping the bill were Owen O’Neill and Miss Behave, the latter of whom confirmed, much to my relief, that she is hosting the increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Awards at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, as well as staging her own Game Show and helping Bob Slayer run the new Bob’s Bookshop venue.

Owen O’Neill needed no redemtion

Owen O’Neill needed no redemption last night

I suspect the hottest show on the Fringe, though, will be The Shawshank Redemption which Owen adapted for the stage and which will star a cast including Omid Djalili, Phil Nichol and Ian Lavender (of Dad’s Army).

Throughout yesterday (when not in court) I was having a staggered e-conversation with comedian Matt Roper. It went along these edited lines:

Me: The last time my blog readers heard of you, you were in a wheelchair in Saigon… then you were getting wet in Burma and ultrasound scanned in a Bangkok hospital. So, for the sake of any future eBook readers if nothing else, what happened with the deep vein thrombosis you had?

Matt: It’s gone. Now we just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Drugs, drugs, drugs. (dribble).

Me: You mean by taking drugs in the future?

Matt: Yes, of course. To keep me from getting a recurring deep vein thrombosis. I don’t do drink, drugs or anything these days. Tucked up in bed at 11.00pm wearing my compression socks, sipping a glass of water. Thirty-six and waiting for God. My pee is so clean I could drink it.

Me: Too much information. What happened about the calcification in your flesh which they found in Bangkok?

Matt: Harmless, they now tell me.

Me: Where did you go and what did you do betwixt Bangkok and Blighty?

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas – storms & mugging monkeys

Matt: Went to India… Delhi, then a train journey up to the foothills of the Himalayas and the town of McLeod Ganj. It’s an old British settlement given to the Tibetan community-in-exile when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959. Lovely place. I like being up by the mountains. We had some terrific storms. McLeod Ganj nestles about 5,000 feet above sea level. You have large eagles swooping down in the valleys BENEATH you and snowcapped peaks above. Magic. No bizarre people involved, but I did nearly get mugged by a monkey – all for a bag of samosas.

Me: Where are you at the moment?

Matt: I’m out the back of a pub in south London on the set of a short comedy film I’m making with Charlie Henniker and Susan Husband called Knock Knock. Then tomorrow (Saturday) I fly to Cape Town for the comedy festival there. As Wilfredo.

Me: What part are you playing in the film?

Matt: Ironically, a drinker in a pub.

Me: You had to cancel your own Edinburgh Fringe show because of your medical problems earlier in the year. Are you popping up to the Fringe at all in August?

Matt: I hope so…

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Me: And are you going to do a show sooner or later about your worldwide exploits and medical mayhem?

Matt: Yes!

Me: Have you got any photos that cover the answers to any of the above?

Matt: No. But I have got one of me wearing a t-shirt to support (the American comic) Rick Shapiro in his Parkinson’s awareness campaign. But Rick Shapiro is another blog entirely…

Me: Yes it is.

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