Tag Archives: heart attack

Comic Daphna Baram, the alien police, the Fringe & a Royal in a Croydon disco

An Irishman, a scotsman and a Jew...

An Irishman, a Scotsman and an Israeli…

In yesterday’s blog, Cassandra Hodges mentioned applying for a visa to work in the US.

But, of course, several people working on the UK comedy circuit are not British.

Daphna Baram – an Israeli – has been here for several years and has two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in August – Bombs, Booze and Haggis Strikes Back and Something to Declare.

This is the second consecutive year for Bombs, Booze and Haggis – “We are flyering it as a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Jew,” she told me.

“But not in that order,” I suggested.

“No,” agreed Daphna.

“I have hay fever,” I warned her when we started talking.

“I have a sore back,” she countered.

“From what?” I asked.

“I was just carrying a heavy bag. I’m generally broken.”

Daphna had a heart attack several years ago.

Daphna Baram has got Something To Declare

Daphna Baram has got Something To Declare

“I think,” she told me, “for the first few years after a heart attack, you are very healthy because you had the scare, you quit smoking, you go to cardio rehab. You want to get back to your glory. A year after the heart attack, I was super-fit: I could run for 45 minutes, I was quite thin, I was on top of things. But then comedy happened. It’s more of a struggle keeping fit when you spend every night in pubs.”

“Have you,” I asked, “explored the option of not spending every night in pubs?”

“I am a comedian?” answered Daphna. “What am I supposed to do?”

“So what’s your solo show about?” I asked, sneezing.

“This is my fifth Fringe year and third solo show. Something To Declare is a show about me immigrating to this country – stories about my efforts to integrate into British society. Partly successfully… No. I think wholly successfully… I think it will be interesting to do it in Scotland. It is a bit of a different premise in Scotland.”

“You now,” I said, blowing my nose, “have an indefinite leave to remain in Britain.”

“Yes,” said Daphna, “finally.”

Matt Roper,” I said, “just got a visa for America which says he is an alien with extraordinary abilities.”

“I tried to get that here a few years ago,” Daphna told me. They called it a Highly Skilled Migrant at the time. I had been under a year in the country and I had published a book in English, I was writing for national newspapers, I had a Fellowship at Oxford University…They said: Listen, madam, you are not a Highly Skilled Migrant. So I had to register myself with the alien police for a few years.”

“The alien police?” I asked. “What? Slanted-Eyed Greys?”

A grey alien, as depicted by Wikipedia

A ‘grey’ alien in Wikipedia

“No. I was the alien. They were the police. Then they changed the name to something else.”

“Probably couldn’t take the laughter,” I suggested.

Daphna’s show Something To Declare is partly about The Britishness Test which aliens have to take.

I sneezed, then asked: “That’s the one with questions no British person can answer? Like What year did Richard II ascend the throne?

“They’ve got a particular obsession with Henry VIII,” Daphna told me, “which I ascribe to the fact the Home Office is in Croydon and he was a bit of a lad.”

“Eh?” I asked, startled. “What has Croydon got to do with it? Did he go down the disco there?”

“Yeah,” said Daphna. “He was a player. I can see him do that.”

“I think,” I said, “you have failed the Britishness test here.”

“I passed!” she insisted.

Daphna is one of the orphans of Cowgatehead. After the chaos caused by the Free Fringe take-over of the venue, she is now performing at Just the Tonic at the Caves. The Cowgatehead fiasco lost her £600. She is currently crowdfunding.

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2012 Malcolm Hardee Awards shortlist announced at the Edinburgh Fringe

Did I mention the Malcolm Hardee Show?

At the Edinburgh Fringe, when he meets people he knows in the street, comedian Lewis Schaffer’s opening line has now become: “What have you heard?”

“That’s a sign,” I told him, “either of a deep neurosis or a guilty conscience.”

“Both,” he replied.

I saw two comedy wannabes in the street this morning. Someone who looked like (but was not) John Hegley and someone who looked like (but was not) Dr Brown. You know you have a certain profile when wannabe lookalikes appear in the streets during the Edinburgh Fringe and/or when you become (as John Hegley did) one of the multiple choice answers on a primetime TV gameshow. I once saw a miniature version of Russell Brand walk across the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh. It was not him. It was a miniature version of him.

I am looking forward to miniaturised clones of Lewis Schaffer roaming the comedy streets in the next few years.

Anyway…

At lunchtime today, we eventually decided the short list for this year’s Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. People were hassling me (which is fine) to the end.

The sex tourist’s avenging postal courgette

I got an e-mail yesterday from Sex Tourist comedian Chris Dangerfield, which said:

This morning I received a parcel. How exciting. I opened it to find a courgette and an offer to pleasure myself with it.

There was a message enclosed (see picture) which said:

HEARD THE ONE ABOUT THE COMEDIAN WHO THINKS PROSTITUTION JOKES ARE FUNNY?

HE WAS TOLD TO GO FUCK HIMSELF.

The note was signed

FEMINIST AVENGERS

“It restores my faith in humanity,” Chris told me, “that people will make such efforts for someone who – although not exactly suffering a drought of such indulgences – will happily consider and most likely do as suggested.”

This morning, I got another e-mail from Chris:

I showed the letter and the courgette to Kate Copstick. Apparently courgettes are not good for the suggested purpose. ‘They snap’ she added, as one opts for the larger end and the smaller end can’t take it.

Chris Dangerfield got nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Award, but not for this.

In other Award-related news, the Awards’ designer John Ward sent me an e-mail:

It seems I have been ‘entered’ into the Life Long Passion Awards by an Italian woman who looked at me web site – The top prize is 22,000 Euros or, by the time the winner is announced at the end of the year, about £17 85p in our money…

 It appears that she works for this organisation and thinks I ‘fit the bill’ – which must be a small one, even with the Service Charge added..

The interesting thing is she works in Italy but used to work in England and can’t believe she missed me while she was over here.

Ha well.

I was so enjoying my obscurity as well.

Meanwhile Andy Dunlop, international president of the World Egg Throwing Federation, who is supervising our Russian Egg Roulette contest at the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show on Friday e-mailed me:

I am arriving in Edinburgh tomorrow, fresh from my triumph at the Worthing International Air Tattoo where I and Joel Hicks (the World Gravy Wrestling Champion) took the trophy (and a cheque for £500) for winning the Kingfisher Class. Our plan to pass the 100m metre mark and turn left for France failed at around 15m.

I will be bringing capes, bandannas and medals.  Eggs will be prepared closer to the day.

Shortly afterwards – we were supposed to meet up at 12.30pm – I got a text message from courgette expert and one of the Malcolm Hardee Award judges, Kate Copstick, which read:

Aaaaaargh. I have just been asked to talk about rape on Radio 2. I will be with you at 1pm

Eventually, we got together and this press release emerged…

____________________

The shortlist has been announced for the increasingly-prestigious, non-sponsored Fringe comedy awards which represent the true anarchic spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe. Nominees (in alphabetical order) for the three awards are:

**** THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY *****

JAMES HAMILTON 

… for his writing, producing and co-directing work on the Casual Violence comedy sketch shows. He was nominated last year, but his comic mind is still almost inexplicably weird.

SIMON MUNNERY

… a long-time mate of Malcolm Hardee’s whose work each year is always original but who this year, according to Malcolm Hardee Award judge Kate Copstick, “has taken his comic originality to an entirely new level” in his Fylm Makker and La Concepta shows.

THE RUBBERBANDITS 

… because they are “feckin hilarious” and because we think they may have wisely not performed enough dates to qualify for the rival Fosters Comedy Awards just so they were more likely to get nominated for the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards

***** THE MALCOLM HARDEE CUNNING STUNT AWARD *****
(for best publicity stunt promoting a Fringe show)

NATHAN CASSIDY 

… for paying people £1 each to come to his stand-up show and 50p to watch his documentary. He says any money he gets from audiences at the end of his shows is being given to charity. “We think.” says Malcolm Hardee Awards organiser John Fleming, “that this says something post-modern about the economics of the present-day Fringe although, to save my life, I’m not quite sure what.”

CHRIS DANGERFIELD

… for getting his show Sex Tourist sponsored by a local escort agency. It is difficult enough to get sponsorship for Fringe shows, but (unlike most drink company sponsorship) this particular sponsorship is entirely relevant to the content of the show – and anyone with a flyer gets an alleged 10% off the escort agency’s prices.

STUART GOLDSMITH

… for turning this year’s ludicrous censorship of his and others’ listings in the Fringe Programme to his advantage and then posting a very effective YouTube video in which he said he would donate £1,000 of his own money to the Waverley Care HIV charity, but would deduct £100 from this every time a critic used a pun on the word ‘prick’ in their review.

HAVING A HEART ATTACK

The judges gave very serious consideration to nominating the concept of “having a heart attack” for the Cunning Stunt Award this year. American comedian Rick Shapiro was in hospital for three months, got out in late June and still came to the Fringe in August. Fellow American comic Andrew J.Lederer was (in his words) “buzz-sawed in two” for a heart operation but came to the Fringe less than three months later. Richard Tyrone Jones also had heart failure and Carey Marx got publicity by not coming to the Fringe because of his heart attack.

“This year,” says Malcolm Hardee judge Kate Copstick, “several very good comics have all come up with the same idea to win the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award – and that is to have a heart attack. I admire their dedication, but too many people got on the bandwagon. A couple of guys were also in car crashes. We at the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Committee are thrilled that people are going to such lengths to seek nominations but for Health & Safety reasons – and because we’re not insured – they should maybe think about stopping here.

“Andrew J Lederer not only had a heart attack but is doing six shows per day all this week – at least, that’s what he told me. And Bob Slayer has not yet had a heart attack but is risking liver failure with his extraordinary nightly intake of drink in a sordid attempt to get noticed by the Committee.

“He and comedian Jeff Leach were allegedly mutually masturbating each other on stage at Espionage in an attempt, I think, to get a nomination. But we at the Committee are choosy in our nominations here at the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards.”

So ‘Having a Heart Attack’ has not been nominated.

***** THE MALCOLM HARDEE ‘ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID’ AWARD *****

TIM FITZHIGHAM

… because he has potential in depth with TV series, book, DVD and live show potential. He is also a gambler which means he might either make a million quid or end up a million quid in debt, which is very much in keeping with the spirit of Malcolm Hardee’s life.

TREVOR NOAH

… because, perhaps not in keeping with the spirit of Malcolm Hardee, Trevor epitomises ‘class’ on stage. We think he is going to be snapped up and will be playing Carnegie Hall type venues soon.

THE RUBBERBANDITS

… who are also nominated for the main Comic Originality Award. Like 2010 Award winner, Bo Burnham, their work on the internet may mean they break through massively to a worldwide audience. According to Malcolm Hardee Award organiser John Fleming, “We also want to suck up to the Youth audience who may not know of Malcolm.”

____________________

The winners of the Awards will be announced on Friday 24th August during a free-to-enter two-hour variety show at The Counting House in Edinburgh as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival. The show starts at 2300 and ends at 0100 on Saturday morning.

The two-hour variety show hosted by Miss Behave will include the Greatest Show on Legs performing their Naked Balloon Dance, a Russian Egg Roulette contest supervised by Andy Dunlop, international president of the World Egg Throwing Federation… plus Charlie Chuck, Richard Herring, Otto Kuhnle, Mat Ricardo, Arthur Smith, Paul Zenon and a host of other unlikely acts.

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show will be followed by one of comedian Arthur Smith’s infamous night-time tours of the Royal Mile. In the past, these have, alas, ended in nudity, anarchic behaviour and, on one occasion, the arrest of comedian Simon Munnery by police in the mistaken belief he was a German. Arthur Smith’s tour leaves from the Castle entrance at 0200 in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are given in memory of “one of the most anarchic figures of his era” – “the greatest influence on British comedy over the last 25 years” and the “godfather to a generation of comic talent”… Malcolm Hardee.

The Awards began in 2005 (or 2007, depending on how you count) and will run until 2017 because that’s the number of trophies which were made. The Awards are not sponsored and no-one organising them or judging them takes any money to cover costs. Entry to the Awards Show is free. 100% of any monies donated by audience members on their way out of the Awards Show on Friday night will go direct to Scotsman comedy critic Kate Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity.

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I saw this comedian last night and I have no idea who he was… or if the act was good or just deeply odd

I am worried I am going to get even fatter and ultimately explode like Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. I am also worried, having just re-read this blog entry, that I am turning into a mindless luvvie but without the glitz, glamour, class and cravat.

Yesterday I had lunch with Malcolm Hardee documentary director Jody VandenBurg and multi-talented multi-media writer Mark Kelly, who has that very rare thing: a genuinely very original TV idea. He was, at one time the stand-up comic Mr Nasty and he reminded me of one typical early Alternative Comedy incident in which comedy duo The Port Stanley Amateur Dramatic Society got banned from right-on vegetarian cabaret restaurant The Earth Exchange… for throwing ham sandwiches at the audience.

This was actually part of their normal act but proved far too non-PC an anarchic step for the militant non-carnivores at the Earth Exchange which was so small I’m surprised they actually had space to move their arms backwards to throw the offensive sandwiches.

Mark also remembered having his only serious falling-out with Malcolm Hardee at the Tunnel Palladium comedy club after Malcolm put on stage a female fanny farting act who, at the time, might or might not have been a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend of local Goldsmiths College art student Damien Hirst. Mark felt the audience – and, indeed, Malcolm – might have been laughing at the performer rather than with the act.

Knowing Malcolm, I guess it might have been a bit of both.

(Note to US readers, “fanny” has a different meaning in British and American English.)

So, anyway I had a very nice ham omelette and banana split with Mark and Jody downstairs at The Stockpot in Old Compton Street, Soho, and then Irish comic/musician/vagabond Andrias de Staic arrived. I know him from his wonderful Edinburgh Fringe shows Around The World on 80 Quid and The Summer I Did the Leaving, but he is currently appearing until 2nd April in the Woody Guthrie musical Woody Sez at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End.

I swear that, the last time I met Aindrias – and it was only last year – he was 5ft 9ins tall. He confirmed this height to me. Yesterday he was 6ft 1in tall.

“It’s the theatrical work,” he told me. “It makes you stand straighter and taller.”

For a moment, I believed him. Then I realised it was rubbish. Then I started to wonder if it could be true.

Or perhaps I am shrinking. The uncertainty of life can be a constant worry.

After that, I went to the weekly Rudy’s Comedy Night gig at Rudy’s Revenge in High Holborn to see Miss D perform an interestingly different routine in which she gave advice on what to do and what not to do when having a heart attack – something she knows about, having had one in June 2009.

The gig was also notable because I saw for the first time the extremely funny and talented compere Katerina Vrana… and an extraordinary act by a man claiming to be an archaeologist about having a hawk on his arm. I missed his name. If you know, tell me, because it had the same effect on me as watching Anthony Newley’s Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? in a Kensington cinema one afternoon etched on my memory in 1969. Perhaps I mean the experience scarred me for life. When the movie finished, I sat there like a stunned halibut and thought What was that??!! and sat through it again to see what on earth I had been watching and whether I liked it. Except, of course, I didn’t have the opportunity to sit still and see this guy perform again last night.

He certainly had energy, that’s for sure.

As for Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? – it is highly recommended, provided you know what you are letting yourself in for.

It is a bit like North Korea in that respect.

(POSTSCRIPT: Within 5 minutes of posting this, two people Facebooked me to say the ‘hawk’ comedian is Paul Duncan McGarrity. The wonders of 21st century communications leave me in perpetual awe; I should, perhaps, get out more.)

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