Tag Archives: Harvard

Comedian Trevor Lock: international man of mystery won’t talk about himself

Trevor Lock prepares for a comedy gig - no shit (photograph by Chris Dangerfield)

Trevor Lock toured living rooms and toilets
(photograph by Chris Dangerfield)

Comedian Trevor Lock has toured with Russell Brand and also performed a series of comedy shows, arranged via Facebook, in ordinary people’s living rooms.

“I played bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, “ he told me when we met in Soho last week. “Students, lawyers, Kate Moss. It’s getting harder to make a living out of comedy. Especially because I say No a lot of the time. I must start saying Yes.”

Lewis Schaffer told me I should ask you about the Maldives,” I told him.

“Ah,” said Trevor. “So I got this e-mail from someone saying I’m organising Harvard University’s Arts Festival and I want to offer you this gig in the Maldive Islands and a deal was struck via the management agency I had at the time and it turned out the organisation of the Arts Festival was part of the students’ course work.

“I was flown out First Class and was going to be paid an extraordinary amount of money but, to this day, I don’t know what actually happened.

“I am pretty certain there was no Harvard University Arts Festival. If there was, I certainly wasn’t booked to appear in it. However, I and a support act who is now no longer a comedian – he’s a pop star, but I can’t say his name – were flown out to the Maldives. And he walked away with £20,000 and I left with no money. I had to pay £7,000 just to get off the island because the bill was unpaid.”

“The bill for the air fare?” I asked.

“No,” explained Trevor, “the bill for the honeymoon chalets that we were put up in. Which was a bit weird. The woman who took us out there seemed to have some kind of Munchausen Syndrome and would vomit blood. It was a long story that ended nearly ten months later with me watching her being bundled into the back of a police car outside my South London flat.”

“She stalked you?” I asked.

trevor in Soho last week

Trevor was still bemused in Soho last week

“It’s not clear what her aim was,” said Trevor. “She sold her story to the newspapers that she was pregnant with Pete Doherty’s baby and, when asked how she met Pete Doherty, she said it was when Pete Doherty was ice-skating with Russell Brand and Trevor Lock – I’ve never been ice-skating. I don’t know what her motivation was. She appeared not to even really know who I was but claimed I was her boyfriend.”

“She’d flown you over to the Maldives?”

“Yes. She wasn’t interested in me sexually. She wasn’t a groupie. She stole a little bit of money from me, but that wasn’t the motivation, because she appeared to have a lot of money. But then she also appeared to be incredibly ill – vomiting blood. I believed all her stories for a while and was visiting her in hospital and then I started to massively mistrust her and just became fascinated trying to work out what the hell was going on.”

“There is an Edinburgh Fringe show in this, surely?” I suggested.

“But I’m not interested in talking about myself,” said Trevor. “I don’t do that on stage. I don’t tell anecdotes from my life and, tragically, that’s what people are mainly interested in about anybody.”

“People are interested in the real people who are Big Names,” I said, “and your profile is rising.”

“Last month, at the Hull Comedy Festival,” said Trevor, “three people came to my show by mistake, expecting to see Sean Lock. They ended up seeing me and Sean Hughes. So, in a sense, they did end up seeing Sean Lock by combining Sean Hughes and Trevor Lock.”

Tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday in London, Trevor is performing for the last time his 2013 Edinburgh show Nude Echo – A One Man Alphabet.

Building to a climactic pointlessness?

This is the beauty about life – nothing needs to be justified.

“Does the title Nude Echo mean anything?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“So you can’t justify the title?”

“I never justify anything,” replied Trevor. “There’s no need to. This is the beauty about life: nothing needs to be justified. It’s the mistake everyone makes. I think that’s one problem in going to school: you’re indoctrinated that you need to justify everything you do – You don’t. Nobody needs to justify anything.”

“So has your Nude Echo show got a point?”

“It has no point and possibly that is the point.”

“Does it build to a climactic pointlessness?”


“And, after these last three Nude Echo shows, what are you doing?”

“I’m hoping to do a book of the show,” said Trevor. “Some jokes, some poems and some pictures. And then I’ll start preparing next year’s Edinburgh Fringe show and the idea now is that each of my shows will become a book.”


“I think that makes more sense, but there’s been rumours I might be able to get a proper publisher.”

“What sort of rumours?”

“Well, I was offered a book deal but I turned it down.”

“What was the book about?”

Trevor at the Edinburgh Fringe, 2012

Trevor at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012

“About me. And I don’t like doing stuff about me. Maybe this is the tragedy of my career, if you can call it that… People tend to find me interesting but I don’t do anything about me in my comedy. I do made-up stuff in my shows; there’s very little personal stuff.”

“Why did they want to do a book about you?” I asked. “Was there an angle?”

“There was an angle, yes,” said Trevor. “Certain things happened and I would have done the book if I could have fictionalised it or done it under a pseudonym.”

“You could still pseudonym it,” I suggested.

“I could and it may well happen,”

“But a publisher approached you,” I asked, “rather than you approached them?”



“I used to live in South America and I have lots of interesting stories about South America.”

“Where were you in South America?”


“Ah,” I said. “I once met a man in the bar of the Sheraton in Lima. He told me he was in the import/export business.”

“That’s what I used to be in.”

“He wouldn’t expand on it,” I said.

“Neither would I,” said Trevor.

“You should write a book about South America,” I suggested, “and do an Edinburgh Fringe comedy show about the Maldives.”

“I don’t like talking about myself.”

“But, in comedy,” I said, “no-one knows what’s true and what’s not true. If you tell the truth, people think you’ve made it up because the truth is usually too OTT to be believable… and, if you make something up, they believe it’s true because you’ve written it in an acceptably believable way.

“If there’s any legal comeback, you just say: I’m a comedian. I tell lies on stage for a living to get laughs and make money. That is what a comedian does. You don’t have to prove in court that you are innocent. They have to prove you are guilty.”

“In England, under English law,” said Trevor. “Not under Scottish law. Under Scottish law, you’re in a lot of trouble if you don’t have the right lawyer.”

“The rule-of-thumb,” I said, “is to never do anything dodgy in Edinburgh.”

“That’s the thing,” said Trevor. “I did absolutely nothing dodgy in Edinburgh and unfortunately had the wrong lawyer.”

“I think we should leave it there,” I said. “Always leave them wanting more.”

Except, Trevor then told me he had a feature film released this year in South America.

“A feature film?” I asked.

“I played a small part as Mr Terrier,” he told me.

Trevor Lock aka Mr Terrier in 2009 - now released

Trevor Lock was Mr Terrier – now unleashed

Como Quien No Quiere La Cosa (aka That Thing You Love) was shot in 2009 but only released this year and, according to its synopsis, is about “the evil doings of a bitter woman, who lives in a lighthouse”. It is a second feature film by Peruvian director Alvaro Velarde who says: “It’s a pretty delirious film, unrealistic… Fate plays no favourites… it has a stylised narrative level. It is not realistic… it is more expressionist.”

There is a 20 second teaser promo and a 2’29” ‘making of’ video on YouTube.

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Day One of Malcolm Hardee Week – and only one bit of genital exposure

The first ever Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe has started and yesterday was a strange old day.

For most of the day, things went well.

I saw the funniest show so far at the Fringe – Johnny Sorrow’s The Bob Blackman Appreciation Society, which made me laugh-out-loud – a rare thing (television production experience, luv).

Having lost two helpers who were no longer coming to Edinburgh as planned, I had offers of help from several sources.

Ever-enthusiastic science-comedy star Helen Keen of Radio 4‘s It Is Rocket Science!) may be able to help me Wednesday to Friday, as can my chum Dr Sophia Khan, formerly of NASA and Harvard and assistant professor of Astrophysics at Shanghai University (Helen’s co-star in last year’s Fringe science comedy show Starstruck!)

From Thursday, I will also have Sophia’s chum Dr Andrew Bunker, former Head of Astronomy at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Oz and now Reader in Astrophysics at Oxford University.

With help like this, surely there will be no problem keeping pasta in the air during Wednesday and Thursday’s spaghetti-juggle contests. Indeed, we should surely be able to get the cooked and aerodynamic strands into low Earth orbit.

On Friday, at the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show – really a two-hour anarchic variety show – I have also been offered help by comic Gill Smith who inspired the original Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award with a cracking Fringe publicity stunt in 2008 – she sent me an e-mail nominating herself for the main Malcolm Hardee Award and saying that, by doing so, she would be justified in putting Malcolm Hardee Award Nominee on her posters.

OCD is a wonderful thing.

Last night’s first Malcolm Hardee Week event went well: it was allegedly a debate on the proposition that “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish”. I think it went well, anyway. It was due to run from 6.15 to 7.00pm but over-ran by an hour to 8.00pm with no walk-outs when panelist Bob Slayer (whose show followed ours) decided that everyone was enjoying themselves so much, we should just carry on and the continuation of our show would become his hour-long show for the night.

That is what large amounts of drinking can lead to.

As I said, I do not think there were any walk-outs; in fact, of course, the audience swelled.

There was, surprisingly, only one incident of genital exposure during the show – when Paul Provenza did a Malcolm Hardee impression – and there were some interesting, if unprintable stories told in the over-run.

Scotsman critic and ITV Show Me The Funny judge Kate Copstick told a story I can’t possibly repeat about the origin of the Mrs Merton character – and a story about one promoter’s reaction to Kunt and the Gang’s current ‘Cockgate’ stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was more Godfather anecdote than comedy story.

And comedienne Janey Godley told a true tale about Jerry Sadowitz performing in her pub in the East End of Glasgow to an audience which included real-life (now dead) Glasgow godfather Arthur Thompson. The largely-English audience I think missed a detail about Arthur Thompson which Janey mentioned in passing and which I do not think is generally known. Though true, I am most certainly not going to repeat it.

Thompson died in 1993, but I think waking up to a severed horse’s head might still be a possibility.

So yesterday – apart from the distant possibilities of horses’ heads and crucifixion on a wooden tenement floor – was good.

With Miss Behave now very sadly unable to compere Friday night’s two-hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at The Counting House because of her meningitis, Scott Capurro and New Comedy Act of the Year 2011 winner David Mills have stepped in to the breach by agreeing to be co-comperes. Scott even cancelled a party on Friday night so he could do the gig.

He told me that, after the first gig he played for Malcolm Hardee, as an American new to the London circuit, he was given his money in a brown envelope. When he got home, he found there was £20 less in the envelope than Malcolm had promised.

“Well, of course there was,” his comedian friends told him. “It’s Malcolm.”

It is extraordinary but true that Malcolm was always – and remains – held in such high esteem by his fellow comedians.

How often was the sentence uttered, “Well, it’s just Malcolm being Malcolm, isn’t it…” ?

But the one bad bit of news yesterday late afternoon was that Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison cannot be on the panel of tonight’s 6.15pm Malcolm Hardee comedy debate at The Hive – allegedly on the proposition “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!” – because Ian has injured his back in Glasgow and cannot get to Edinburgh.

So, at the moment, the panel are Viz magazine creator Simon Donald, BBC TV One Show presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli and Laughing Cows‘ international compere Maureen Younger plus A.N.Other.

It was a bit of a downer when I heard that Ian cannot join us.

But yesterday ended well when I was told that the wonderful Doktor CocaColaMcDonalds has had a son called Oscar… the first Malcolm Hardee Award winner to have an Oscar…

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Of 5-star reviews and sticking spring vegetables up the nose

(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)

Saturday was a day of the good, the bad and the lovely. It started with my comedy chum Janey Godley getting a 5-star review for her stage show The Godley Hour from the Daily Mirror. It ended with me getting my car stuck in a 45-degree-sloped unevenly-cobbled alleyway with rough, uneven stone walls. It took me an hour and a half to get out.

In between was my science chum (Doctor of Astrophysics) Sophia Khan arriving with her mum for her (that’s Sophia’s) three free science-based shows Keen & Khan: Starstruck! with comedian Helen Keen (complementing Helen’s 4-star show It Is Rocket Science! V2).

Sophia claims she’s an ordinary person doing a nerdy job but “ordinary” might be a slight linguistic error. She has worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center, at Harvard University and for the Japanese Space Agency and is currently Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at Shanghai University; she is only 31. Ever enterprising, she decided to go to the ‘Meet The Media’ event at Fringe Central which, depending on your view, is either a speed-dating event for desperate students with bemused media people sitting at tables facing long queues like some movie about penniless immigrants being processed when they landed in New York in 1903. Or Britain’s Got Talent crossed with a Serbian concentration camp before the barbed wire arrives.

We can but hope the photo The Times took of Sophia looking through a circular window in a doorway to represent a spaceship porthole looks more Alpha Centaurian.

Later, Sophia, her mum, elfin stand-up Laura Lexx and I went off to see Lewis Schaffer’s show Free Until Famous. Lewis has been trying-out and tweaking this show since November last year – usually performing two shows per week, sometimes four… in a Soho basement… to an extraordinary mix of locals, international passers-by and students.

But, on Saturday night, he explained that, earlier in the day, another comic had suggested he shouldn’t bother to even try to keep to a scripted show and should just go with the flow. Lewis obviously took this very much to heart, as he pretty-much made the whole hour-long show up as be went along. I know his show in it’s various configurations quite well. As far as I could see, he made up 90% of Saturday night’s show, mostly built round three Australian, German and American punters and his near-encyclopaedic knowledge of trivia. Lewis is a walking Wikipedia and ‘unpredictable’ is an understatement in describing his shows.

The London Is Funny website, re-naming itself Edinburgh Is Funny for the month, listed him as one of the Fringe’s 50 Must-See Shows… their description “Outspoken and vulnerable New York comic Lewis Schaffer offends as many as he tickles” is pretty spot-on.

Then came the unfortunate car-stuck-down-the-alleyway-for-90-minutes scenario which I can’t bear to think of again.

And, even later that night, I found myself driving round the busy streets of Edinburgh at 2.00m, looking for medicine – Vicks and headache tablets – for a friend of my comedy chum Janey Godley’s who appears to have taken to stuffing spring vegetables up her nose for medicinal reasons. Don’t ask. I have no explanation of this.

But then, to really round off the day, Janey Godley suddenly discovered she had got ANOTHER 5-star review.

That’s the Fringe for you: people getting 5-star reviews while others stick spring vegetables up their nose.

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